Marks & Spencer

Digital learning and leadership development

Every aspect of the high street retailer’s ranges will be “undergoing scrutiny and change” in 2019, following a decline in group sales in the six months to 29 September this year, worsened by closures of 24 of the 100 stores it has scheduled to shut by 2022.

The future therefore remains uncertain for M&S employees and the business will be investing in its internal comms to keep staff motivated and reassured during this period of change. We know that it will be focusing on digital learning to help existing employees become more tech savvy, and it is opening a digital academy that will turn staff into “data scientists”. For the academy’s inaugural 18-month programme it hopes to teach 1,000 employees about machine learning.

Talent agenda: The company appointed a new Head of Talent in March, Joanne Rye, who has leadership development experience at the likes of Kier Group and HSBC. In conjunction with this, the business created a new talent agenda and we expect it to concentrate on succession planning and the development of high potential staff in the new year. Additionally, the company is developing a new wellbeing framework and will initially focus on digital tools, before expanding into more in-depth face-to-face initiatives in the longer-term. The biggest challenge here is developing programmes that can be rolled-out effectively to such a large workforce.

Reward & benefits: We’ve also been told that M&S will also be reviewing its reward & benefits next year. The company employs a workforce with a wide age-range and is looking to develop a package that appeals to employees at different stages of their career. We also predict that it will take a look at how its benefits are being communicated to staff and explore different ideas to ensure it’s package is being effectively promoted.

Revenue: £10.7bn

Number of employees: 85,000

Financial year end: March 31st

New appointments this year:

Head of Talent – Joanne Rye

Head of HR Digital, Technology & Finance – Marianne Moberg

Other key contacts:

HR Director – David Guise

Head of Reward – Joanne Rees