October 12, 2023
Halloween is Hershey’s busiest season, and our retail team works extra hard to ensure our store partners and consumers have all the treats they need. To support them, we created a program about 10 years ago called Helping Hands. The program pairs corporate and other non-retail employee volunteers with retail team members to join them in stores to help set up merchandising displays, fill store shelves and experience a day-in-the-life.
Today, the program has taken on a life of its own. More than 2,000 volunteers have participated in the Halloween preparation efforts since Helping Hands began, and each one has walked away with a deeper respect for the role our retail team plays—and an experience they’ll never forget.
All Hands On Deck
We start making our Helping Hands matches toward the end of summer. Volunteers from across the business, including marketing, sales, engineering, packaging and supply chain, are paired with Territory Sales Leads (TSLs). We’ve even had our Chief Sales Officer and Chief Human Resources officers participate, along with several Vice Presidents, some of whom started their careers as TSLs. This season, a record 550+ volunteers are joining in.
The experience is always action-packed and challenging. It’s also inspiring. Invariably, Helping Hands partners are wowed by all the responsibilities of our TSLs. In addition to building merchandising displays, this team is hard at work sharing consumer insights with retail partners and flexing our technological capabilities, like using 3D visuals and augmented reality to optimize display designs. Plus, they never stop hustling.
Ryan Riess, Vice President, Brand Strategy and Creative Development, emailed me following his experience with Helping Hands. He said it opened his eyes to what a valuable role the retail team plays daily in the company’s success. “I didn’t realize how difficult the job of a territory sales lead is,” Riess shared. “The drive, stamina and commitment that each retail team member shows every single day is inspiring. They are truly making moments of goodness on the frontlines with their daily interactions. Witnessing the conversations and storytelling these teammates did all while merchandising and strategizing with our retailers made me proud to be their teammate.”
While volunteering with Helping Hands, Riess says he realized the retail team has a vital job at the company because they’re the ones who ensure our products get to where they need to be. “Every single employee, from commodity buyers to food scientists to marketers, are counting on them to get the ball across the line,” he said.
‘Tis the season
Helping Hands has become a favorite program among our employees, which we now utilize for all our top seasons and big events. Its impact has exceeded our original goal to support our retail team during a busy time. The experience helps us fuel a talent pipeline; many retail members pursue new job opportunities at Hershey that they learned about during Helping Hands or strike up a mentorship with their partners. We’ve also seen volunteers return to the office with a fresh retail perspective and innovative new ideas for manufacturing, merchandising and marketing.
Getting caught up in the day-to-day demands and losing sight of the big picture is easy with every business. What I love so much about Helping Hands is it brings that big picture back into focus. It allows us all to remember our first encounters with Hershey products and to be a part of more moments of goodness at a time and place where it matters most.
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