Unit 22 Managing Human Resources Assignment - Marks & Spencer

Unit 22 Managing Human Resources Assignment - Marks & Spencer

Unit 22 Managing Human Resources Assignment - Marks & Spencer


Diploma in Business

Unit Number and Title

Unit 22 Managing Human Resources

QFC Level

Level 5


Human resource is the most vital resource for any form of business activities and hence it is imperative that the business organisations across the globe give it due importance and significance in the path of progress and success of the organisations. It is considered as the greatest asset that the enterprise needs to nurture and manage effectively to realise the organisational aims and objectives. This article would therefore emphasise on the knowledge of various HRM perspectives and its implications on the middle management as well as the employees of a company, the importance of a flexible working culture, significance of discriminatory practices and management of workplace diversities along with the importance of health and safety measures, performance management and promotion of employee welfare at the workplace. Marks and Spencer has been chosen as the case study organisation for preparing the article in the light of a realistic business context.

Task 1 Different perspectives of Human Resource Management

1.1 Application of Guest’s model of HRM at Marks and Spencer

In the domain of human resource management The Guest’s model delineates management of human resources from the personnel management thereby supporting the statement that while the latter is based on certain compliances that are in practice, the former relies on commitment. In his vision therefore, the expanse of human resource management is not merely confined within the boundaries of employee recruitment and training, rather it encapsulates the idea of distinguishing the workforce as an organisational asset that must be managed strategically and kept committed at all times to ensure the accomplishment of the objectives of the organisation (Armstrong and Taylor, 2014). Through this approach the needs of the individual employees are given more importance than that of the entire team of employees.

The department of human resource at Marks and Spencer has adopted this model to augment the element of trust and engagement amongst its workforce. The company has a dedicated team for searching the skilled and expert employees and also attracting the untapped talents towards the brand. It predominantly lays more stress on the training of the employees so that they ensure top-notch performances in their respective domains. The adoption of this model has transformed the organisational structure of the company to a participative form of management where the employees are given more responsibilities and the multi-layered hierarchies have been dissolved (Jackson et al., 2011). Thus the sharing of the organisational vision along the length and breadth of the organisation has encouraged the workforce to be more proactive in taking decisions thereby introducing a style of personal leadership in the management. The company has also introduced several approaches to bring about a transformation in the communication process through publishing of magazines meant for internal employees, access to intranet, employee forums on a quarterly basis and other platforms through which the opinions of the employees could be heard and put into practice.

1.2 Comparison of the differences between Storey’s definitions of HRM, IR Practices and Personnel at Marks and Spencer and Harrods

The workforce of any organisation is considered the life blood without which it is impossible to reach the goal that the brand has set out for, needless to say, its valuation as the most treasured asset is not a mere exaggeration and hence its subsequent management becomes the most important task of any organisation. The management of such an asset needs to be done with a rational and strategic approach as stated by Storey since the organisational objectives can only be achieved through the collective and individual contribution of its entire workforce (Mello., 2014). Two forms of human resource management have been stated by Storey, which are termed as Hard and Soft management of human resources. The hard form of human resource management emphasise on the attainment of advantage in market competition and hence monitors the workforce through performance management, implementation of criterions that can be measured and are quantitative in nature and imposition of control so that more valued contributions can be ensured from the employees. On the other hand Soft form of management identifies employees as the potential assets and thus tries to implement practices that bridges the gaps between the interests of the employees and that of the management through adaptability, development of integrity and commitment thus gaining competitive advantage in the long run competition ( Storey., 2014).

Personnel management as stated by Storey is purely compliance based wherein the rules structured by the business owners are needed to be followed by the workforce. It is not regarded as a part of general management and is held as bureaucratic in nature focused mainly on the laws of employment, legislations related to recruitment and remuneration. The differences between the HRM, IR and marketing management practices as defined by Storey has been given in the form of the following table:


          Personnel & IR


Beliefs and Assumptions

1. Contract

Careful delineation of written contracts

Aim to go beyond contract

2. Rules

Importance of devising clear rules/mutually

'Can-do' outlook; Impatience with 'rule'

3. Guide to management action



4. Behaviour referent

Norms/custom and  practice


5. Managerial task vis-a-vis labour



6. Nature of relations



7. Conflict




Strategic aspects

8. Key relations

Labour management


9. Initiatives



10. Corporate plan



11. Speed of decision



Line management

12. Management role


Transformational leadership

13. Key Managers

Personnel/IR Specialists

General/Business/Line Managers

14. Communication



15. Standardisation



16. Prized Management Skill



Key Levers

17. Selection

Marginal Task, Separate

Key Task, Integrated

18. Pay

Evaluation of Job

Evaluation of performance


From the above table it is quite clear that the model of Storey states the human resource management as the fulcrum of organisational planning and in the domain of line management the experts of human resource management has been given the role of a transformational leader within the enterprise which remains unachieved by the IR and personnel management practices (Jiang et al., 2012). The implementation of the storey’s model is quite visible within Marks and Spencer since the organisation has put more focus on the employee needs and its fulfilment by making provision for rewards that are non-financial in nature such as promotions, appraisals, involvement in the process of decision making, engaging in team contributions and mandatory participations in the learning of new skills and knowledge development process for the achievement of organisational objectives, which incidentally is quite opposed to the strict culture of monitoring as practised in Personnel management (Boxall and Purcell, 2011). 

In the case of Harrods, the practice of personnel management is more predominant since the focus of the brand is more on the aspects of employee recruitment, imposition of policies and disciplinary regulations in the practices of the Store Managers, hence although it is apparently termed as human resource management, in practice, more of personnel management is visible because of the enterprises focus on policy compliances and absence of employees in the process of decision making within the organisation.

1.3 Assessment of the implications of employees and Line managers in development of strategic approach to HRM at Marks and Spencer

In the process of development of the practices of human resource management, the Line managers of Marks and Spencer looks into the fact that the strategies so framed are in adherence to the culture, policies, style of leadership and the common goal of the enterprise. As changes in the levels of hierarchies and style of leadership can have conflicting managerial issues with the operational aspects of the enterprise, the line managers therefore needs to be excessively alert not to propagate any kind of negativity within the enterprise by following an approach thereby affecting the brand value of Marks and Spencer ( Black et al., 2010). From the perspective of the employees of the enterprise, the implication covers the aspects of security of their respective positions, changes in the pay structure and bonuses since it would be performance based rather than based on the designation and also the clauses of termination during the job tenure from the enterprise.

Task 2 Development of flexibility within workplace

2.1 Application of model of flexibility in Marks and Spencer

The cornerstone of any successful business organisation in the current times is the implementation of flexible working pattern so that all kinds of work can be accomplished at all places along with the fulfilment of the needs of the particular business and the individuals who are involved in it. There could be multifarious models of flexible work practices such as part time employment, home based work, job sharing, working over the telephone or mobile devices, compressed work plans and flexible work hours (Snell et al., 2015). Marks and Spencer is known to give importance to the needs of its employees and has therefore incorporated several flexi-work patterns within the workplace and such an arrangement has benefitted the organisation immensely by augmenting employee relation at the workplace. The model of working over the mobile devices has helped the brand tremendously with its presence through broadband access via intranet and internet, at the airports thus enabling the employees to complete the working hours at a lower cost. Not only has it led to the improvement in the quality of life and performance of the employees stationed at the airports but the brand by giving importance to communication has been able to reach its customers on their way back home.

2.2 Kinds of Flexibility that can be developed by Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer can develop and out into use several kinds of flexibility practices for efficiency and productivity augmentation of the enterprise. More opportunities and scope can be provided to the working female population having child care issues but are willing to pursue a career with the brand by developing the model of part time work arrangement. Sharing of jobs is yet another model which can be devised furthermore as an extension to the prevalent job rotation model enabling interchange of responsibilities, thus enhancing the skill set of the entire workforce and also enhancing the workforce camaraderie ensuring optimal productivity and growth (Joyce et al., 2010). As the brand recruits a large number of students every year during the summer and winter months the model of term working would benefit the company as the company would be responsible for making payments based on the number of working days only and not during school term thus ensuring employment to the willing candidates and also saving cost in the process. However as Marks and Spencer is a supermarket store they model of home based work would not be of much importance and hence its development would not bring any benefits to the enterprise.

2.3 Assessment of the model of flexibility from employee and employer’s perspectives in Marks and Spencer

The application of the model of flexibility within the workplace is hinged on the benefits and fulfilment of several organisational needs both from the viewpoint of the employers and the employees (Shagvaliyeva and Yazdanifard, 2014). It not only brings fairness in the working practice by giving due importance to the individual needs of entire workforce in the backdrop of fulfilment of the organisational objectives but also ensures compliance to the aspects of diversity and equality within the enterprise. For instance, the student employees who contribute to the enterprise during the holidays as permanent staffs and remains an unpaid employee during the school term finds the long term working agreement quite conducive and also leaves the enterprise with no financial obligations. The void that is created in the supermarket store during the school term is filled with regular staffs without any extra salary and thus a good amount of cost is saved by the enterprise.

Work from home or from remote places also proves beneficial both from the end of the employer and the employees as well since the employees find it quite convenient to meet the targets and deadlines from the comfort of their homes and the enterprise saves a huge amount of resources in the form of office space, conveyance cost, administration expenditures and expenses related to work supervision by personnel (Hörning et al., 2015). The temporary employment scheme at Marks and Spencer is quite lucrative since not only the enterprise saves cost on packages like retirement benefits and pension and health needs which are for the permanent employees but also the employees find it quite convenient since child care and other house related issues can be taken care of while remaining employed to the enterprise.

2.4 Impact of labour market changes on the flexibility work practises at Marks and Spencer

The recent changes in the labour market due to the wake of globalisation have left its impact on the workplace flexibility in many of the organisations across the world and Marks and Spencer is no exception. This transformation can be attributed to the factors of technological evolution, increased intake of undergraduate and post graduate candidates across all job sectors, accentuated rate of migration and economic liberalisation. However such a trend has affected the enterprise positively which has helped the company acquire different kind of talents than focusing on specialised traits. Through the implementation of the flexible nature practices in the workplace it has become easier to curtail costs since the personnel can be easily delegated to any specific zone for a specific purpose and still quality and affordability is maintained from the dual perspectives of the worker as well as the management (De Menezes and Kelliher, 2011). The impact of migration across geographical borders has resulted in the induction of people from diverse cultures having different needs to fill in the slots of part-time and full time employment after the completion of their principle shifts. Thus it can be said that the process of implementation of approaches and processes have become easier due to practice of flexibility at the workplace, along with curtailment of conventional expenses related to business activities and in promoting the sense of diversity within the supermarket store.

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Task 3 Impact of equal opportunities at workplace

3.1 Forms of discriminatory practices at Marks and Spencer

The corporate work stations spread across the universe is the breeding place of various kinds of practices of discrimination and it is quite evident in Marks and Spencer as well. A vital discriminatory practice is the way the female and the male employees are treated differently within the workplace and the various ways the employees complies with the wish list of “Dos” and “Dont’s” of the management much to their disapproval (Bratton and Gold, 2012). At Marks and Spencer the stipulations on the appearance of the female employees mandates the use of makeup at all times during the official hours and usually after the stressful job hours one if found to be non compliant may be driven out on the grounds of non compliance to company rules.

The aspect of discriminating on the basis of age could also be present in the supermarket store which can be attributed to the transforming scenarios of the current labour market that is witnessing the recruitment of a large number of graduating and post graduate candidates in the store ( Armstrong et al., 2010). This could be due to the fact that Marks and Spencer is in search of young talents to fill in their workplace. Marks and Spencer being conscious of its market reputation could also discriminate against the recruitment of disabled gentries in their workplace or be partial to the ones already in the pay roll. In one of the instances, in the summer of 2009, a young lady employee at Marks and Spencer with a prosthetic limb was terminated from the shop floor due to her unwillingness to remove her cardigan during work and was awarded the compensation she had claimed against the company on grounds of unlawful harassment.

3.2 Practical implications of legislating equal opportunities at Marks and Spencer

The legislation of equal opportunities at Marks and Spencer has witnessed negative as well as positive implications for the brand. The guidelines and policies of the enterprise related to human resource management were reviewed to establish the veracity of non-discriminatory practices at the workplace. Additionally the compliance of legislation related to equal opportunities and non-violation of similar other operational codes prevalent in UK were also scanned in the presence of experts which bore implications on the financial aspects of the company in the form of extra cost for hiring professionals for conducting the review (Armstrong et al., 2010). A public demonstration in support of equal opportunities practices and practices of non-discrimination through the policy frameworks and composition of the workforce had to be brought out by Marks and Spencer to uphold its market reputation. Hence there was direct implication on the process of recruitment since the brand had to ensure that their practices must not reflect biases in the areas of gender, age, sex or religious beliefs. In case the brand resorts to any kind of unfair means for propagating inequality or discriminatory practices the implication could come in the form of legal prosecution or other penal action under the prevalent law in UK (Thompson., 2016)

3.3 Comparison of approaches of diversity management and management of equal opportunities at Marks and Spencer

The management of equality and diversity at the stores of Marks and Spencer are not dissimilar since a single approach is followed to ensure both at the workplace. As for instance the management of diversity and equality within the workplace of the supermarket store is done parallel – while on one hand talents from various regions of the world are sourced in adherence to the employment and equality legislation, regardless of ethnicity or geographical location, on the other hand the company ensures that there are no gender related discriminatory practices in the appointment of line managers or any members of the management team, thereby giving equal opportunities to both the genders possessing the acumen required for the designated position ( Tatli., 2011). The employees are also given an opportunity to voice their opinion and provide feedback and the brand ensures that their voice is heard and they are made to feel empowered and secured in their respective positions at the workplace. In the words of the Brand and Communication Head of the company, the discounted offers to the employees and the allocation of leave has bettered the quality of the employee output and this was possible due to the fact that the brand has redirected the quality and effort used for customer retention in addressing the contemporary issues of employees (Armstrong et al., 2010).

Marks and Spencer is also known for its flexi-timing job options such as part time, full time, term time and seasonal workers hired for during festive or peak seasons and thus it has the capacity to provide scope for all kinds of employees in accordance to their employment needs (Barak., 2013). This kind of approaches by the company verily reflects diversity promotion within its workplace and also ensures that the workforce irrespective of caste, creed, gender or age is given equal opportunities and they steer the company towards growth.

Task 4 Topical Issues

4.1 Comparison of performance management methods adopted at Marks and Spencer

The management of employee performance involves monitoring and reviewing of the individual and collective performance of the workforce. This approach helps in identifying the potential weak slots in the level of performance that is in need of improvement so that excellence can be achieved and it also points out those faulty zones that have been responsible for detrimental output. The performance management at Marks and Spencer puts into practice all means through which the branches, departments, production lines and entire workforce along subsidiaries are scrutinized (Newsome et al., 2013). The methods help in ascertaining the actual level of performance of the employees. As for instance the method of Talent Spotting helps in zeroing in on the talented candidates who could make positive contributions towards the company with their skill and expertise. In the words of the employees of the supermarket store, the brand is quite efficient in spotting talent and nurturing them by giving them the right direction which not only helps the brand but also augurs individual growth of the employees.

As Marks and Spencer has a flat organisational structure the employees are made to feel a part of the company and hence are trained to shoulder more responsibilities concerned with making decisions, which in a way has enhanced the satisfaction level and sense of security amongst the employees and they can perform at the optimum level, not being wary of the bureaucratic form of hindrances in form of management directives, creeping in the workplace (Kitapci, et al., 2013). The Rewards for Excellence program in Marks and Spencer confers rewards on talented and successful employees at an annual gala event in the presence of the entire top management and the workforce which motivates not only the achievers for betterment but also the new entrants who gets encouraged to strive harder for attaining the coveted position in the future. The positive response towards recognition of the employees worth through rewards helps the company grow exponentially over the years simply through the collaborative effort of their committed workforce.

4.2 Assessment of the approaches of employee welfare management at Marks and Spencer

There are various roles that are undertaken by the human resource department out of which welfare of the work force is one of the primary aspects that is never overlooked in the supermarket stores of Marks and Spencer. The team of employee relations apart from managing other issues are particularly focused on the issues of workforce welfare, that concerns employee well being in particular, so that the employees are spared the troubles of redundancy of policies and procedures and different other types of grievances ( Van Buren et al., 2011). The pension scheme developed by the team has had a positive effect on the aspect of welfare of the employees. It is an initiative of Marks and Spencer from the employee benefits zone and the enterprise assist the employees in providing the knowhow about the significance of savings for a secured future. Therefore it is quite clear that the enterprise not only handles the workplace hurdles faced by the employees but also brings out schemes which could provide them support after retirement thereby keeping their focus on their performance for the good of the company while making provisions for their day-to-day needs. The employee survey of the company has led to the knowledge that the gap that was widening between the experience of the base of customers and that of the employees with the brand was bridged well by the introduction of the dedicated food pavilion for the workforce providing nutritious and high quality offerings (Johnson and Yang, 2010). As a apart of the employee welfare package this has made the employees quite happy and feel valued at the enterprise. 

4.3 Implication of the health and safety legislation on human resource practices

The human resource practices must take into account the adherence of legislations related to health and safety measures at the corporate workplace. Hence it becomes obligatory for Marks and Spencer that strict abidance of the safety and health measures are followed not only for the workforce or the customers but also for the masses. In fact the company is expected to spend the company resources for ensuring the legislation of health and safety in accordance to the Health and Safety Act 1974, which demands the institutionalisation of health and safety programs at all stages of employment tenure for the entire workforce. The legislation has the power and authority to undertake penal action against the company if it is found that the health and safety measures for the employees have been compromised or violated by any means (Lundgren and McMakin, 2013).

It is the duty of the managers of the human resource department there is strict compliance with the legislation both from the perspectives of the immediate working ambience as well as of the employees as the company has to bear an extra cost for imparting knowledge about health and safety issues to the employees (Dollard and Bakker, 2010.). The significance of the health and safety legislation cannot be negated since it is mandatory in the framing of several procedures and policies.

Marks and Spencer has ensured the implementation of the safety and health legislation in its human resource practices through the provision of fire and safety units, health units, security personnel, risk management team that is constantly involved in risk assessment, review of the measures in practice, conduct of periodic safety and security drills, training the employees through safety induction audio visual presentations and manually handling and checking the effectiveness of the precautionary measures present at the store premises.

4.4 Evaluation of the impact of a topical issue on human resource practices

The practice of the human resource management stands to get affected by several topical issues that is present in almost all domains of business across the globe. The organisational culture has been a topical issue with Marks and Spencer which has left its impact on the practices of human resources within the enterprise (Vlachos et al. 2010). The process of staff recruitment and engagement is shaped by the organisational culture that is prevalent in Marks and Spencer. The entire recruitment process has eight stages that start from the receiving and screening of initial applicants, telephonic interview, assessment centre, interviews of the resources and the line management followed by task preparation and the final interview which ensures that the selected candidates would adapt to the store culture. The Human resources team is also imparted training and development so that it helps in propagating better employee engagement and the employees find it encouraging putting forth their opinions and feedbacks on the operational aspect of the enterprise (Noe, 2010).

Marks and Spencer also ensures the candidates that are recruited are best suited for the role and to scout for such talent, the HR team constantly utilises the various methods of selection such as social media platforms and effective advertisements to get in touch with the best of talents for retaining the competitive edge in the market competition. The leadership style also gets affected by the organisational culture and the focus of leadership in Marks and Spencer is primarily on the basis of a culture of trust and respect which makes it more democratic in outlook and such an approach is the cornerstone of engagement of the employees of the brand (Johnson and Yang, 2010). The aspect of effective communication among all levels of the enterprise helps in relationship building, trust reinforcements and development of managerial skills auguring commitment amongst each member of the workforce.

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This article has in its course of creating an understanding about the significance of human resource practices within a business enterprise has highlighted several aspects related to the management of the workforce which are quite relevant and significant in the proper conduct of day-to-day business activities. The imperativeness of the presence of a strategic model of human resource practices is as vital as that of managing the aspects of diversity and equal opportunities within the enterprise, the enterprise while being flexible in its practices must also focus on the element of adherence of health and safety legislation at the workplace and above all the management of performances cannot be overlooked, since it is through proper monitoring and scrutinizing at every step of the human resource practices can the enterprise evolve as the one of the best in the competition.


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