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Sprouts uses XR to expedite onboarding & build culture at scale

Sprouts is a nationwide purveyor of natural and organic foods that employs over 35,000 retail workers across 400+ grocery store locations in 23 states. As a culture-driven organization that invests heavily in its people, Sprouts partnered with Strivr to optimize their onboarding approach and instill new team members with the customer-first mentality reflective of Sprouts culture and core values.

Sprouts team members trained in XR
reduction in employee onboarding time, from 4 hours to 45 minutes
of learners reported feeling more motivated to do their jobs after XR training

The challenge

The hardest part [of onboarding] was having team members in 23 states and making sure everyone was training the same way... We were trying to get away from cluster training because we wanted consistency.
Cindy Chikahisa
VP of Store Operations, Sprouts

Sprouts is a culture-driven, people-centered organization whose core values are espoused and reflected in every facet of the company’s culture and customer service approach. Before transitioning to XR training, new Sprouts team members completed onboarding on-site and in-person through 4-hour cluster training session covering everything from customer service to food safety. This approach to employee onboarding was not only costly in terms of the travel and personnel costs required to sustain it, but also inconsistent as training content, quality, and oversight varied across locations, leading to varied performance from team members. As part of a new initiative to instill the Sprouts Sales Culture among all team members and in preparation for a rapid location and headcount expansion, Sprouts partnered with Strivr to create a custom immersive learning program that met the following business objectives:

  • Standardize and scale foundational Sales Culture and food safety training for all new hires across all Sprouts locations
  • Provide an immersive, engaging training experience that allows new team members to learn and practice demonstrating the Sprouts Sales Culture in customer interactions

The solution

To provide new hires with a realistic preview of what to expect before stepping into their new role and job site, Strivr’s team of immersive content specialists created 3 live action VR training courses. Production took place at a Sprouts grocery store over the course of 5 days using 360 video cameras, mics, and actors to deliver life-like visuals and sounds in an authentic VR environment.

Course 1: Sprouts Values
Course 1 focused on introducing learners to the Sprouts Sales Culture and and testing their conceptual understanding of each tenant.

Course 2: Selling Naturally

Course 2 focused on building customer service and sales skills by testing learners’ ability to embody and demonstrate the Sprouts Sales Culture in a series of simulated customer interactions.

Course 3: Food Safety Prioritization

Course 3 focused on introducing learners to proper food safety procedures, from basic hygiene and sanitation to identifying symptoms of food-borne illnesses and the bacteria that cause them. Learners were then prompted to complete a series of tasks in a simulated Sprouts deli counter environment to test their ability to prioritize food safety over competing tasks, identify food safety hazards, and understand the consequences of non-compliance.

Course details

Target learners

New hires (frontline team members)

XR content modality

Live action VR

XR use case(s)

  • Employee onboarding
  • Customer service
  • Food safety

TRAINING duration

45 minutes (3 courses, 15 minutes each)

Learning objectives

  • Embody and demonstrate the Sprouts Sales Culture in customer interactions
  • Understand and articulate the differences between good and bad customer service behaviors as they pertain to advancing the Sprouts Sales Culture
  • Understand and apply proper food safety procedures to ensure the health and safety of customers and coworkers

The impact

With VR, team members aren’t subject to the distractions that often occur while reading a manual or observing a PowerPoint presentation. As a result, their retention of content is better, and it takes less time to convey the message.
Dan Sanders
Chief Operating Officer, Sprouts

Since deploying their XR training program, Sprouts has reduced new hire onboarding time by 81%, from 4 hours to 45 minutes, allowing the company to get new team members on the floor and contributing to the bottom line faster without sacrificing engagement or proficiency.

In fact, employee engagement has seen a dramatic increase. “[Team members] eagerly seek the training, whereas, in the past, they may have endured it,” said Dan Sanders, Sprouts Chief Operating Officer.

Employee retention of training content has also seen significant improvements. Compared to employees who trained under the old paradigm, XR learners were 16X more likely to remember all six Sprouts core values, outperforming even senior managers.

The XR training program was so successful among new hires that Sprouts decided to extend the program to tenured team members in every department to reinforce the importance of the Sprouts Sales Culture, core values, and customer service approach across the entire company.

Strivr empowered
  • Reduce new hire onboarding time by 81%, from 4 hours to 45 minutes.
  • Quickly and consistently scale its unique culture and core values to over 56,000 team members across all 408 Sprouts locations.
  • Provide new hires with a safe, realistic, judgement-free VR environment where they can learn, practice, and refine their customer service and food safety skills with unlimited repetitions.

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