Our Strategic Agenda

Perform means continuing to drive growth in a cost-disciplined, returns-focused way.

It is about how we deliver the results, not just the outcome. That means embedding proven concepts such as segmentation, expanding our higher-value solutions, and driving value realisation from the PERFORM (lean) approach.

Kenichiro Kawasaki

Ken is Country Head of Japan and President & CEO of VSN Inc. He joined the Adecco Group in 2012, with the acquisition of VSN, where he was CEO. His background is in professional solutions, having begun his career at VSN in 1999 as a consultant and worked his way up through various management positions before being appointed CEO in 2010.

What have been the key drivers of outperformance in Japan in 2019?

The strong performance in Japan, where we grew our market share and expanded our sector-leading margins, comes from focusing on four key drivers: improving the business mix, CCPM (Client and Candidate Portfolio Management), value-based pricing and disciplined cost management.

In terms of business mix, we have been actively shifting the portfolio towards higher-value, faster-growing segments of the market, such as professional staffing and permanent placement. This has delivered strong results, including 12% organic revenue growth in 2019 in professional staffing, which is now around 30% of sales.

The Japanese market is characterised by talent scarcity. In 2019, there were 1.6 open jobs for every applicant. This scarcity is driven by demographics and changing skills requirements, and in many ways is an indication of what markets in Europe and North America might look like in 10–15 years. Talent scarcity drives client demand for permanent recruitment services, to help find hard-to-reach workers, and also for innovative models such as the augmented staffing solutions offered by our Modis VSN business. Here we not only find candidates but essentially 'create' them, taking talented individuals and training them in IT and engineering skills before deploying them to our clients. In this way we increase the employability of individuals and help fill talent gaps for businesses.

In the general staffing business (GS), we also drove good organic growth of 5%, supported by the CCPM approach and our value-based pricing strategy. CCPM provides a framework for client and candidate pipeline management, with clear goals and KPIs and data-driven performance management. It helps us to guide or salespeople and recruiters, balance supply and demand and allocate resources appropriately.

On pricing, there are two elements. First, we have become more sophisticated in our governance and tools. That means dynamically reflecting labour market trends and specifications. Second, we have worked with clients with lower gross margins to understand how we could bring additional services to add more value.

Finally, on the productivity side we have been laserfocused on balancing gross profit growth and FTE growth. We have clear criteria for making headcount investments, based on activity KPIs and our sales pipeline, and also a rigorous process for onboarding new hires and bringing them to productivity.

Transform describes how we are strengthening our core businesses

We are driving growth by enhancing client and candidate experiences, and expanding into new segments. We are also transforming our cost structure and improving productivity, by leveraging technology and digital solutions.

Christophe Catoir

Christophe is an Executive Committee member and Regional Head of France and Northern Europe. He has more than 20 years of experience within the Adecco Group, holding various management roles in general staffing, professional staffing and permanent recruitment in France, before being asked to lead the French business in 2015.


Alex Fleming

Alex is Country Head of the UK & Ireland. She began her career as a recruitment consultant with Adecco in 1997, in London. Alex rose up through the ranks first as a branch manager, then regional manager and eventually taking on national responsibility for the Adecco brand, in 2013. She was promoted to Country Head in 2018.

How has GrowTogether developed over the last 12 months?

AF: In 2019, the programme really ramped up in terms of activity and impact. At the Group level we overachieved both the productivity goal (by EUR 20 million to reach EUR 140 million annual savings) and the Net Promoter Score target (client NPS +8 points YoY).

We put 10,000 people through the 12-week long PERFORM training, which is a significant undertaking. We rolled out v1 of the integrated front-office (InFO) platform to 7,500 colleagues. We also turned local successes, like the candidate app in France, into global products that we scaled into additional geographies. So it was a busy and productive year which we expect to be followed by an even busier and more productive 2020.

CC: There have also been some key changes to the governance of GrowTogether, which has become more embedded in the business and with the digital organisation. Corporate has set the strategy and direction, and now ownership has transferred to the business, which is a natural evolution.

Part of that process has been the establishment of the product management teams within the digital organisation. Dedicated product managers are responsible for each of the key technology products, for example the candidate app or AI chatbots, managing development and driving adoption in the business.

GrowTogether comes to an end this year. Will there be a GT 2.0?

AF: GrowTogether has a momentum that will certainly continue. For example, the PERFORM roll-out is not just a one-time benefit; it creates a culture of continuous improvement. So even when we have trained the whole organisation, the benefits will continue. We are already turning the PERFORM lens on our clients’ operations too, to bring further value and insights in terms of their human capital management.

CC: From a technology perspective the opportunities ahead are also very interesting. While the most tangible results so far have been related to productivity and efficiency, we have also established a platform onto which we can build more exciting and differentiating things. Ultimately, we want to leverage technology and data to build closer and longer-term relationships with our candidates, associates and clients. Tech should be an enabler of stronger human relationships.

AF: I think we will go places on the technology side that the local competitors cannot follow. Being able to invest in technology globally, at scale, and then deploy locally is a key advantage. Being able to leverage expansive data to drive customer insights will also be an advantage.

CC: That’s true. In the past we were less able to leverage our scale because the Group was decentralised, with every country adopting its own IT strategy and many processes being manual and offline. With GrowTogether we have made a lot of progress in terms of ensuring global consistency and digitalisation.

The way we are building digital products is also very different from the past. It has in mind the need to be agile. For example, we are adopting a single code-base approach when developing things like InFO and the candidate app, to avoid local duplication and to allow for a faster rhythm of updates and releases.

AF: So in conclusion, GrowTogether is really a journey where we are coming to the end of the first phase but with plenty of opportunity to come. We can do a lot more in terms of both operational efficiency and customer value. It’s very exciting!

Grow Together

  • Service Excellencs icon

    Service Excellence

    Put customer-centricity at the heart of what we do

    NPS measurement and activation

    • Benchmarking and analysis of pain points and positives in customer journey
    • 2019 Net Promotor Score: Clients +8pts, Candidates +4pts
  • Process Optimisation icon

    Process Optimisation

    Transform the way we perform

    PERFORM (‘lean’) method

    • PERFORM method brings a lean manufacturing approach to our business
    • 10,000 employees trained across 16 countries
    • +10% average productivity increase post-implementation
  • Technology icon


    Consultant tools and commercial solutions

    NPS measurement and activation

    • Sales effectiveness
    • Recruitment efficiency
    • Middle- /back-office optimisation

Innovate is focused on leveraging and expanding the Group's ecosystem of brands and solutions, to bring greater value to clients and candidates.

We are driving synergies and collaboration between existing brands and building new businesses in attractive adjacent markets, to capture opportunities in high-growth, high-margin segments. We intend to be the innovation leader in our industry, disrupting it from the inside by bringing together the best of HR solutions with the best of technology.

Charandeep Chihabra

Charandeep is global head of General Assembly’s enterprise business, a role he has held since 2019. He joined the Adecco Group in 2008 as a consultant at Modis, in Australia, later being promoted to become General Manager for sales, digital solutions and innovation. In 2017, Charandeep moved to New York in a dual role as global industry lead for engineering and technology, and global head of managed services and solutions.


Sarah Dollander

Sarah is the Managing Director in the Southern Region, US for LHH. She has nearly 20 years of experience with LHH, holding a variety of roles in operations, sales, client relationship management and most recently in regional leadership. Sarah’s current focus is leading her regional team at LHH following her promotion into this role in August 2019. She has worked closely with General Assembly on the development of innovative joint solutions.

How did the collaboration between General Assembly and LHH begin?

Sarah Dollander (SD): As Charandeep mentioned, right from the beginning we recognised there was a strong complementarity between LHH and GA, and potential to create truly innovative solutions to address the urgent needs of many of the Group’s clients. Most companies face a need to adapt to rapidly changing skills requirements and digital disruption. In the past, they would ‘fire and re-hire’; lay people off and bring in new employees with the required skills. However, today the pace of change has accelerated and there are shortages of talent in many critical digital fields.

The old model simply doesn’t work. New approaches are required to avoid spiralling financial and societal costs. That’s where our combined ‘workforce transformation’ offerings come in. It means, as one of our clients put it, moving from a replaceable workforce to a renewable workforce concept.

Soon after GA joined the Group, we started work on designing and developing the integrated offering, establishing a commercial model and go-to-market strategy.

CC: There are three tiers to the combined offering. Tier 1 offers GA’s online foundation training in digital literacy and is included in the LHH Active Placement redeployment portal. Tier 2 allows a deeper dive into the GA curriculum with broader digital training programmes also included on the LHH online portal. Finally, Tier 3 offers full GA immersive programmes, including pre- and post-assessments for targeted employees, plus assistance with practical pathways for redeploying these newly skilled employees.

SD: By integrating the GA curriculum inside our LHH redeployment offering we have the ability to not only coach people how to find a new job inside their organisation but can also now define specific job-to-job transition paths and offer reskilling and upskilling as part of our workforce transformation solution. We’ve found that this joint offering is considerably more effective than just sharing customer leads. It elevates the customer conversation to the C-suite and results in much deeper engagement.

How does the solution work and what is unique about the customer value proposition?

SD: Our solution begins with employee and manager career coaching. We train managers to have career discussions with their employees and to discuss options when roles have been made redundant. And we help employees who want to proactively engage in career planning for new jobs inside their company. Employees then have access to a career development centre, which includes in-person assessments and coaching, and a digital centre where they can access career development tools, upskilling courses, and be matched to internal jobs.

From there we have different paths for employees. Some will leave the company and enter LHH Active Placement where we work to find them a new role – our typical outplacement programme. Others can take upskilling courses with the aim of qualifying for new roles. And finally, there is the deep, immersive reskilling path where we get them job-ready for the digital roles that their employer requires now or in the near future.

CC: We have a very client-centric approach. Although we have sketched out what a typical programme might look like, we recognise each client will have a slightly different need. Our teams follow a design-thinking approach to tailor the solution to each client’s circumstances and requirements.

What is unique is that we can bring together the multiple capabilities of the Adecco Group in an end-to-end solution, combining both consulting and execution. We advise the client on their current and future workforce needs, assess employee aptitude, provide coaching and training, and also match employees to roles both inside and outside the firm. The result is better outcomes for both companies and their employees, at considerably lower financial cost.

SD: The Adecco Group is the only company that can offer this kind of holistic solution. For clients it means dealing with one team, with one contract, and with the quality assurance that comes from working with the leader in the field.