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Żabka's Culture of Convenience Makes Customers' Lives Easier

Żabka's Culture of Convenience Makes Customers' Lives Easier

by Anna Sawyer

Story Highlights

  • As a household name in Poland, Żabka serves over 3 million customers daily
  • Żabka began its engagement journey at 22% engaged and has since climbed to 73%
  • Żabka focuses on developing managers, the people most able to engage employees

Żabka Group’s mission is straightforward: to make people’s lives easier by creating an unparalleled “convenience ecosystem.” Żabka is a household name in Poland, serving nearly 3 million consumers every day and offering a range of products and convenience services such as groceries, meals on the go, parcel delivery, cash withdrawals and catering for consumers with special dietary needs.

The first store under the Żabka brand was established 25 years ago in Swarzędz, a town near Poznań, Poland. The company’s small chain of shops has since become Żabka Group, with a network of stores receiving more than a billion customer visits a year. Currently, Żabka Group operates three core business units: Żabka Polska, Żabka Future and Żabka Digital. These businesses are supported by the company’s Strategic Leadership group, comprising Consumer, People and Financial Strategy, each led by a member of Żabka’s Management Board and the Central Functions group.

Żabka Polska manages all operational and commercial aspects of the group’s retail activities in Poland across more than 10,000 stores and over 8,600 franchises. Żabka Future focuses on creating new businesses and developing technology tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to support the group. Other business units include Maczfit, a direct-to-consumer meal provider;, an online direct-to-consumer meal marketplace helping consumers compare, select and manage boxed meal orders throughout Poland; and Lite, an e-commerce startup that aims to offer a rapid grocery delivery service.


The Goal: A Differentiated Convenience Ecosystem

Żabka Group’s strategy is to create a “convenience ecosystem” that offers targeted, flexible customer solutions that respond to consumers’ changing needs. The company recently implemented an ambitious transformation initiative to deliver on its business strategy, which aims to develop a convenience ecosystem by focusing on the development of three core areas:

Evolution of the modern convenience format: Żabka Group is constantly expanding to new locations and developing its store formats to meet the demands of new location types and achieve its expansion goals. Żabka strives to meet its customers’ needs through constant innovation of tailored product offerings.

Digital evolution: Żabka Group creates value by developing innovative services, sales channels and technology-based tools. This includes using AI to assist in making strategic business decisions such as pricing and new store locations.

Responsible business: In 2021, Żabka Group implemented a comprehensive environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy to help define its responsible business objectives and goals, which fully align with the company’s business strategy. This responsible ESG strategy affirms Żabka’s commitment to a greener, more sustainable environment and enables its customers to make more responsible choices.

To support its business strategy, Żabka Group has clearly defined four values that shape the foundation of its culture and define what the company aspires to be. Żabka recognizes the importance of every individual employee sharing these values and integrating them into their unique, individual talents and perspectives.

These four values are:

Ambition: Żabka Group encourages individuals to set ambitious goals for themselves and bring their personal dreams to life, thereby creating value for Żabka, its employees and the communities they serve.

Openness: Żabka Group fosters a workplace environment focused on inspiring employee courage, a willingness to see the world differently, and showing respect for others’ beliefs and opinions.

Responsibility: Employees take ownership of their actions and decisions and demand accountability from themselves and their colleagues.

Credibility: Żabka Group and its employees strive every day to build their credibility in the eyes of colleagues, franchisees and customers, proving their commitment to credibility by ensuring their intentions, values and actions fully align.

These values define Żabka Group’s desired culture and aim to build a trust-centric organization of employees committed to growing the company’s business sustainably. They also promote continuous improvement in three vital dimensions of Żabka’s culture: Equality and Inclusiveness, Responsible Management, and Transparency and Credibility.

The Approach: Fostering a Culture That Maximizes Every Employee’s Potential

Leadership Commitment

Żabka Group has long understood the vital role its employees play in achieving its goal of creating a unique convenience ecosystem -- and the importance of employee engagement, requiring the involvement of everyone from front-line staff to line managers and senior management. In 2018, the company embarked on an ambitious journey to improve employee engagement to drive growth and fulfill its mission.

Żabka Group partnered with Gallup to build a highly engaged workplace culture harnessing every employee’s potential. From the start, all employees’ commitment -- particularly the Management Board -- was crucial to ensuring success. Leadership participation and involvement show all employees how vital engagement is to the company’s growth and ability to fulfill its mission.

“Our business success is backed by several thousand committed employees, partners and franchisees,” notes CEO of Żabka Group Tomasz Suchański. “Their commitment allows us to achieve things that seem impossible to other businesses.”

Żabka’s Management Board carefully reviews the results of the annual Gallup employee engagement survey to ensure they consider the results when setting strategic priorities for the coming year. The Management Board’s involvement ensures that recommended actions and changes will be implemented and communicated to managers and their teams.

From the start, all employees’ commitment -- particularly the Management Board -- was crucial to ensuring success.

The results of Żabka’s first companywide survey -- using the Gallup Q12 employee engagement assessment -- showed that 22% of employees were engaged, placing the company in the 14th percentile of Gallup’s global client database. Clearly, there was much room for improvement, and the leadership team took immediate action based on its strong sense of responsibility for the company’s employees and firm belief in the vital role of engagement in their future success.

Suchański observes, “We are learning from our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine about how to implement new social initiatives based on our values of responsibility, openness, credibility and ambition. In terms of our own team, we aim to provide everybody with the opportunity to build the value of our company in a sustainable manner, giving our people the support they need along with a sense of independence, clearly defined goals and an effective development path.”

Manager Support and Accountability

Following a detailed analysis of the baseline survey results and the company’s financial performance, the executive board formulated its strategic action plan for the organization. This strategy mainly focused on fostering the right attitudes and behaviors among Żabka’s managers.

Gallup research shows that managers account for 70% of the variance in team engagement. Because managers have the greatest impact on the engagement of the teams they lead, Jolanta Bańczerowska, Member of Żabka Group Management Board and Chief People Officer, immediately recognized the importance of ensuring managers were involved and supported in taking actions to improve engagement.

“Investing in managers’ growth and attitude is key to creating motivated teams, ensuring the achievement of our goals,” says Bańczerowska. “We are a company that acts boldly. We also place particular emphasis on open communication and readily listen to our employees’ opinions and encourage them to engage in active discussions.”


Each year following the annual engagement survey, all managers, together with their direct reports and supported by a dedicated HR team, analyze team results and identify specific Q12 survey items for discussion and action. The team report serves as a road map for managers to plan the conversations they need to have with their teams and understand the meaning behind the numbers. Emphasis is placed on ensuring managers know what is important to their teams, what their strengths are and where there is the greatest opportunity for growth and development.

“For our managers and teams,” says Bańczerowska, “Gallup’s questions create a framework that helps us understand what should be done to create a more conducive work environment where everyone can develop their talents and work with passion.”

Engagement Ambassadors

Led by Bańczerowska, the Żabka HR department created a team of engagement ambassadors to build awareness throughout the organization about the importance of engagement, its vital connection with the company’s business and how engagement can help the organization achieve its mission and growth objectives.

“Gallup’s questions create a framework that helps us understand what should be done to create a more conducive work environment where everyone can develop their talents and work with passion.”

Every year, Żabka’s engagement ambassadors lead numerous information sessions and prepare materials to inform managers as they create engagement plans for the coming year. This dedicated support drives manager ownership and accountability for team engagement.

In 2022, Żabka focused engagement efforts on three pillars: I Know, I Understand, I Apply. Engagement ambassadors then designed specific activities for each pillar to share knowledge, best practices and tools to help managers. In addition, this team ensures new managers receive training on the Q12 engagement, team feedback and action planning model.

Żabka has built a purpose-led, trusted organization of empowered people and strives to integrate its business strategy with the organization’s culture; engagement should be part of a manager’s daily work with their team, not a separate set of tasks. Manager training and communications emphasize this point by including correlations between the Q12 assessment and performance outcomes and guidance to help managers combine day-to-day tasks with team-specific actions to enhance everyone’s engagement.

The Result: Engagement and Business Growth

Żabka’s focused, strategic approach to engagement delivered remarkable results in the first year of the initiative, boosting the share of the company’s engaged employees from 22% to 53% in a single year and raising Żabka to the 52nd percentile in Gallup’s global client database.

Żabka has built a purpose-led, trusted organization of empowered people and strives to integrate its business strategy with the organization’s culture.

The company remained steadfast in its focus on engagement, increasing the number of engaged employees in each subsequent year. The most recent survey in 2022 shows that nearly three-quarters (73%) of Żabka’s workforce was engaged, propelling the company into the top quartile of Gallup’s global database. Żabka achieved these results while doubling the number of employees since its first survey in 2018.


Krzysztof Krawczyk, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Żabka Group and Partner with CVC Capital Partners, observes, “When we started this journey six years ago, one of the focus areas was to make sure that we can attract, develop and retain the best talent in Poland. We are proud to receive recognition from Gallup for being one of the most engaged organizations in the entire world.”

Żabka recently applied for the Gallup Exceptional Workplace Awards and, in 2023, was selected as a winner on its first attempt. Żabka’s impressive progress on engagement has been accompanied by robust growth of its business and expansion of its franchisee network.

Reflecting on Żabka’s achievements, CEO Suchański comments, “Together we have built an organization based on standards of equal treatment and full transparency in which every employee, partner and franchisee has equal opportunities and can openly discuss and implement their ideas.”

Żabka Group remains ambitious and optimistic about its future, despite the uncertainties affecting the Polish and global economies, increased energy costs due to Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine, and lower consumer confidence resulting from high inflation. Even in the face of these challenges, Żabka’s employees have never been so committed to achieving their mission of helping make customers’ lives easier.

Transform your organization’s performance using employee engagement:


Anna Sawyer is a Principal at Gallup.

James Rapinac contributed to this article. 

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