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Marks and Spencer

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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

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