Case studies

Developing HR capability: CIPD and Marks & Spencer - Experiences assessment for organisations

"Our HR managers are so experienced that a qualification is no longer the right option for them – accrediting their experience to gain CIPD professional membership was the obvious alternative."

Marks & Spencer (M&S) is an organisation committed to continuing the professional development of all staff, and HR is no exception. Talented HR professionals attend the M&S HR Academy, which now includes the award of CIPD professional membership through Experience Assessment.

The HR Academy’s aim is to build a strong strategic presence for HR within M&S. It encompasses leadership, management and technical development for HR team members across the business. ‘When it was set up 18 months ago, the HR Academy provided a clear opportunity to join disparate learning and development activities together,’ says Jane Daly, Chartered MCIPD, Head of Head Office Learning and Development, M&S. ‘It also allowed us to build on what we had already and look externally for inspiration to incorporate the latest thinking on developing HR capability.’

M&S approached the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) to get their perspective on the capabilities required by talented HR professionals. ‘We found a lot of consistency with our thinking,’ comments Daly. The attributes that M&S requires from its HR professionals – demonstrating a strategic approach, curiosity, insight and a global outlook – are closely linked with the CIPD’s HR Profession Map. ‘These behaviours are very close to our hearts here at M&S,’ observes Daly.

The HR leadership team also wanted the Academy to result in an independent award from the CIPD. ‘Experience Assessment gave us the ideal opportunity to give our staff external recognition for their HR achievements and their contribution to the business,’ says Daly.

To date, 24 M&S HR professionals have completed Experience Assessment and plans for the 2013 cohorts are already under way. ‘It’s become business as usual for us,’ says Daly.

The benefits have already been felt at both an individual and a corporate level. Daly feels that the process of being able to ‘reflect on and analyse’ evidence of their effortsand achievements with a CIPD assessor is immensely valuable. ‘The M&S Experience Assessment alumni,’ says Daly, ‘clearly feel a benefit, kudos and motivation from having their experience externally recognised.’ Moreover, putting forward groups of HR managers at the same time has not only enabled mutual support, but has also encouraged networking across the department.

Through Experience Assessment, M&S has been able to appreciate how their HR practitioners benchmark against the professional standards within the CIPD’s HR Profession Map. They received an Organisational Insights Report, including benchmarking data, key trends and options to further enhance HR capabilities within M&S.

M&S clearly sees its relationship with the CIPD as a long-term partnership, with fresh organisational insights helping to further develop the HR Academy to closely support business objectives. Daly concludes, 'Experience Assessment has proven to be a cost-effective way of investing in, developing and retaining our HR talent.'