How Hershey Designed Its Workplace For A Sweet Employee Experience

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on August 8, 2018

When Milton Hershey established his chocolate empire, he had a vision that went beyond creating the world’s most delicious candies. He wanted his chocolate factory to be the center of an entire community that would enrich the lives of everyone around it.

He built homes, parks, public transportation and schools, including a school for orphan boys that remains an important part of his legacy even today.

“One is only happy in proportion as he makes others feel happy,” Hershey famously said.

More than 120 years later, Hershey is a global brand dedicated to making the world sweeter in many ways. It’s a great place for its more than 21,000 employees to work, but it’s also a great place to play. Hershey’s former senior facilities manager, Stephen Hinkle, recently spoke at iOFFICE’s Workplace Champions Summit about how the company created the kind of workplace its employees brag about to their friends and family.

Hershey’s Keys to A Sweet Employee Experience

This recruiting video from Hershey’s website offers a glimpse at some of the perks of working at Hershey.

 Aside from the chocolate that makes every meeting a little sweeter, the company offers employees a number of amenities, such as a beer garden, game room, outdoor patio and access to Hershey Park. There are hockey events, community service initiatives and Inclusion Day, which features cultural activities and food trucks with menu items from around the world. But a great employee experience is more than just perks. Here are a few other important elements.

A New, Modern Office

The physical space is one of three main factors that contribute to the employee experience, according to research by Jacob Morgan. Hershey’s original chocolate factory in Hershey, Pa., was built in 1903. The company wanted to preserve its storied history while also creating a modern workspace that would encourage greater productivity, collaboration and a better work/life balance.

Hershey invested $60 million to renovate the factory into a beautiful, bright, 500,000 square foot corporate office with 1,500 work spaces. The new headquarters pays homage to the old factory, with the original corridor intact and artifacts like the old conching machine used to mix the chocolate. It’s designed to let in plenty of natural light and be welcoming to the more than 100 visitors who stop by each day.

The Right Mix of Space

When employees have the freedom to work in the ways that work best for them, they are more likely to have a positive employee experience. Like many organizations, Hershey wanted to create an environment that would support activity-based working. Activity-based working gives employees a balance between quiet space and collaborative space, allowing them to easily move around the office based on the work they’re doing throughout the day.

Hershey worked with the CBRE team to come up with the right formula for them:

  • 33% “Me” space – Cubicles, offices, phone booths and private rooms for employees to concentrate
  • 33% “We” space – Conference rooms and collaborative areas for meetings and brainstorming
  • 17% Support space – Equipment, supply closets and storage
  • 17% Amenities space – Employee cafeteria, break room, fitness center, patio

Having a variety of spaces that are ideal for meeting, concentrating and taking a break allows employees to choose what works best for them and their preferred style of working.

Policies that Support Flexibility

Having a well-designed space sets the stage for greater flexibility, but if employees don’t feel they have any freedom in the way they schedule their day, they can’t fully take advantage of it. As a global company, Hershey often has meetings with teams in many different time zones, so the traditional 9-5 workday doesn’t always apply. Hershey recognized it needed to update its HR policies to offer employees greater flexibility over their work hours. New policies include:

  • Smart Flex – Work anywhere, anytime with any device
  • Flex Dress – Dress for your day
  • Maternal and Paternal Leave – Policies to support growing families

Technology to Support Activity-Based Working

With employees scattered throughout the office and frequently sharing spaces, Hershey recognized it needed to update its technology to make it easier for them to do so.

First, the company implemented visitor management software to allow both employees and visitors to check in and reserve work spaces. It also added wayfinding kiosks to allow employees to easily find rooms and find each other.

Leaving A Legacy

With a new, modern office, policies that promote flexibility and technology to support a new way to working, Hershey’s employees can focus on making an impact in larger ways. It all goes back to the company’s mission of making the world sweeter, not only for customers and the many charitable causes it supports, but also for its employees.

Your organization has undoubtedly considered the legacy it wants to leave on the world through its products, services and outreach. What kind of legacy are you leaving for employees?


Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

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