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Marks And Spencer

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Autor:  monika  18 January 2010
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In this report I will be analysing Marks and Spencer’s overall approach to employee resourcing. In particular its approach to human resource planning, its recruitment and selection methods, and its reward and performance management practices and how issues of diversity and health and safety are managed. Firstly, I will be introducing the company’s background, strategy, structure and culture.
Company Background
With more than 120 years of heritage, Marks and Spencer is one of the best-known British retailers. The company has more than 450 stores within the UK and employs more than 65,000 people. It also operates outside the UK where it has a developing business in places as far as Hong Kong. In recent years, the UK’s retailing industry has been characterised by intense competition. Customers are more aware of where and how they want to shop. They also know what sort of shopping experience they require. This has made it much more difficult for retailers to survive. The result of this was that Marks and Spencer had to develop a new business strategy which focused on the three business values of quality, value and service.

Marks and Spencer developed a promotional campaign that emphasised ‘Your M&S’. This helped the company to connect customers with the heritage of the business. It also linked the business in the minds of customers with its two other values of innovation and trust. The new business strategy focuses on three main areas:
 Developing value for money products that customers want. Training and development brings new skills and which help to add value to its products and services, for example by cutting costs, this enables Marks and Spencer to keep prices lower to benefit the customers.
 Investing in the environment within stores, by having better skills in sales and stock management means that staff can use the store to better advantage resulting in higher sales and profitability.
 Providing good customer service, to look after customers if staff have improved skills in, for example communication, this can have a positive impact on customer service.
These changes have created a business environment with more challenges for employees. Managers had to prepare employees for whatever role they would be asked to undertake in this new environment. The answer was to develop new career paths for employees through training and development at Marks and Spencer to help employees cope with the challenges they faced and created a career path for them.
It is an essential part of the Marks and Spencer’s strategy to attract, train, develop and retain a large pool of talent at all levels within the company. The level of remuneration and benefits they are able to offer is a key factor in successfully achieving this objective. The company sets out to provide highly competitive salaries and benefits for all its employees consistent with its growth, strategy and increasingly international dimensions.
• Structure
Marks and Spencer’s business has a flat organisational structure. The business lost a number of layers of authority through delayering which means that employees throughout the business have more responsibility. This enables them to make quick decisions and justifying actions that have been taken.

The new structure led to a need in more training. In a flatter organisational structure, many employees have bigger jobs. There are higher expectations that staff can contribute more to its organisation. Marks and Spencer keeps its staff well-trained and able to respond to the businesses needs. There is also a need for succession management, when individuals either retire or move from one job to another Marks and Spencer management plans their replacements so that experienced staff with the right skills and competencies are selected.
• Culture
Marks and Spencer has a theory Z approach to its culture. The main feature of a theory Z organisation is the sense of collaboration between managers and employees. Businesses that successfully implement a theory Z approach to its culture find that employees have a sense of belonging and involvement. Views are shared across the organisation and from this shared norms and values emerge, which help the organisation to improve and move forward. (Ouchi’s theory Z culture)

Approach to HR planning
Marks and Spencer use a systematic approach known as strategic planning to their human resource planning which determines its plan of action based upon the values, culture and mission of the company. It is important to Marks and Spencer’s employees as it helps them to understand the process of the strategic planning to see how their work objectives and individual responsibilities directly affect the companies’ mission. The systematic approach has six steps which are, to remember the mission, identify the opportunities and threats of the company, to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the company by evaluating employee’s skills, facilities and organisation structure, to forecast capabilities and opportunities by evaluating any upcoming changes before forecasting future opportunities, to develop goals and objectives and to implement the goals by evaluating the results and revising the plan as they move forward.
Recruitment and Selection Methods
To match it business strategy, Marks and Spencer develops existing staff within the organisation. It also recruits managers at three different levels:
 Trainee managers with A-Levels undertake twenty-four months of training
 Graduates who join the organisation form university have twelve months of training
 Experienced managers who have retail experience undertake up to three months of training when they join Marks and Spencer to help them understand how Marks and Spencer operates.
Marks and Spencer recruit:
 Internally by recruiting within the company which includes advertising media on notice boards either paper or electronic for example via their corporate intranet, in-house journals, memoranda to supervisors/managers soliciting recommendations and observation and word of mouth. Most of these methods they use incur little extra cost, being based on existing or easily accessible information about the candidate’s abilities, attitudes and so on.
 Externally by recruiting people from outside the organisation. Marks and Spencer use agencies for graduates of schools and training institutions such as job centres and career services. Employment agencies are another method of recruitment they use which provides temporary workers for one-off requirements and short-term cover. The Internet is a major external method used by Marks and Spencer, through online recruitment agencies. Marks and Spencer’s website enables people to apply online via their online application form. Marks and Spencer’s online application form is very convenient for a disabled person or an immigrant who would find it difficult to find work. This is because Marks and Spencer takes pride in creating jobs under the Equal Opportunities policy which makes the jobs available to everybody, whatever their ethnic origin, race, sex, age, etc. The Marks and Spencer personnel staff can use the information on the application form to create a short list of people to invite to the interview. This form can be very useful once the candidates have been short listed too.
Marks and Spencer’s selection is based purely on talent screening, they recruit suitable individuals regardless of their age. Individuals apply online and are screened initially on a number of killer questions such as, ‘do you have a permit to work in the UK?’ Those that are successful at this stage are then screened using online talent screening, this test assesses their skills and experiences against that required for the role they are applying for. Those who pass this test are then invited for an interview. They analyse data from the online recruitment process to ensure that the use of the internet does not discriminate against any particular age group. The company runs training for recruiters about new legislations; the training is designed to ensure that those individuals who conduct selection interviews do not discriminate on the grounds of age. They also ensure that the chairs of assessor teams in assessment centres are well informed about the legislations. An examination of Marks and Spencer’s criterion-based selection processes shows not only the use of criterion-based selection but also the use of online selections for initial screenings; this ensures that age is not a factor, as this screening is conducted electronically without reference to the candidate’s age. Those candidates who are selected for interview have therefore satisfied a number of criteria for the job without their age being known. The use of trained assessors and the provision of training on age for recruiters also minimises the likelihood of age being used as a factor in the selection process at interview or assessment centre stages.
Marks and Spencer abide by the legal framework on selection. The legal framework on selection states that application forms should not include questions which are not work-related (such as marital or domestic details) unless they are asked of all applicants. Marks and Spencer’s application form only asks questions based on what is needed for the job.
Reward and Performance Management
Marks and Spencer use reward management within their company through rewarding their employees for their efforts towards the company. Marks and Spencer has a benefits package to help attract and retain staff by the generosity of benefits offered and by facilitating career longevity and work-life balance. The benefits package includes everything from subsided healthcare and performance-related pay rewards to their employee discount. The benefits package encourages commitment to the companies own products and demonstrates corporate social responsibility by giving above statutory levels of sick pay, paternity leave, pension provisions, employee assistance and so on.
Marks and Spencer use the theory of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, they ask their workers to rank their needs in order of importance using a points system and then analyse their current situation against the points system. Marks and Spencer through performance management carry out regular interviews with employees to assess them for further training or promotion. This is a major motivating factor for Marks and Spencer workers and the company need to be aware that this is a possible area for conflict and de-motivation. According to Maslow, Marks and Spencer’s workers are at the basic or safety needs level, the aim is to make more workers want to achieve a higher level of needs such as social or esteem needs. Marks and Spencer therefore train workers every now and then to keep these workers motivated. The personnel department find out which workers need more training by keeping track records on each employee, Marks and Spencer do this to increase their skills of the workforce in general but to increase the skills of the de-motivated employees more to increase motivation.
Herzberg (1957) devised his ‘motivation hygiene’ theory which stated that two groups of factors affect employee motivation. Herzberg said that certain elements in a job motivate people to do better; he called these elements, ‘satisfiers’. Herzberg suggested that satisfier’s such as achievement and recognition motivate employees rather than hygiene factors such as pay and working conditions. Marks and Spencer agree with this and have introduced performance related pay within the last few years. Employees who work hard receive a higher wage than those who do not which encourages all employees to work as hard as possible in order to gain extra pay. They also use appraisals as a form of performance management to analyse which areas the employees need to be motivated on. In many companies, appraisal takes place once or twice a year but Marks and Spencer carry it out every three months, the more frequently appraisals are carried out, the better. Performance management allows Marks and Spencer to ensure that all of their employees are properly trained as a properly trained employee will be more confident in their job and will be better motivated to perform more efficiently.
Marks and Spencer has a diverse range of employees committed to an active Equal Opportunities Policy. This covers their recruitment and selection procedures as well as its training and development, appraisal, promotion opportunities and retirement. They promote an environment free from discrimination, harassment and victimisation which they work hard to ensure everyone receives equal treatment. All the decisions they make relating to employment practices are objective, free from bias and based solely upon work criteria and individual merit. Not only are they responsive to the needs of their employees and customers but also take pride in the role they play in the community because of this they value diversity highly and it is important to them that they recognise and make full use of the wealth of talent they have within their organisation. Marks and Spencer places a lot of emphasis on developing initiatives and procedures that ensure equality for every member of the Marks and Spencer team.
Health and Safety practices
Marks and Spencer has a responsibility under UK domestic and European legislation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees, customers and contractors on their premises. Managers have a responsibility to ensure that employees are aware of health and safety regulations and the requirement to report all accidents and dangerous occurrences to the appropriate person/department. Marks and Spencer operates a system that ensures workplace health and safety is safeguarded and they provide a range of occupational health services to their employees.
In conclusion Marks and Spencer’s overall approach to employee resourcing is one that focuses on attracting and retaining the right people they need to be successful by offering employees competitive rewards and benefits and providing their employees with guidance and information about their values. Also focusing on attracting and retaining people from a culturally and socially diverse workforce that allows them to recruit the best people from a wide pool of talent, marks and Spencer also is concerned with ensuring that the health and safety of their employees and people are protected by well managed systems in all their places of work which all these concerns reflecting within their companies strategy.


• BPP, (2004). Human Resource Management: Specialist Units 21-24, Supporting Foundation Degrees, HNC/HND Course book. BPP Professional Education
• Bloisi, W (2007) Management and Organisational Behaviour, Second European Edition, McGraw Hill Education, London
• Foot, M & Hook C (2005). Introducing Human Resource Management, Fourth Edition, Prentice Hall, Pearson Education, England



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