People management

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Introduction

This report examines the role that Personnel fulfils in the John Lewis Partnership. It begins with the definition of HRM and goes on to describe the activities undertaken by Personnel in the John Lewis Partnership and how they help the business to achieve its aims and objectives.

The John Lewis Partnership was founded in 1929 by John Spedan Lewis. The first trust settlement was created the same year which gave him practical control of the business but allowed the profits to be shared out among employees. In 1950 the second trust settlement was created and the partnership became the property of the people employed within it.

Today it is one of the UK's top ten retailers. It has over 69,000 partners running its 29 John Lewis shops, 222 Waitrose supermarkets, an online and catalogue business (Johnlewis.com), a direct services company (Greenbee), one production unit and a farm (John Lewis Partnership, 2009).

Definition of HRM

Business 2000 (2009) defines HRM as "The management of the workforce of a business to ensure sufficient staff levels with the right skills, properly rewarded and motivated". This is a very general definition of HRM, as the role that it fulfils is crucial to the success of any business.

Absenteeism refers to the process of managing employee absence and attendance.

Authority and Accountability refers to the right to give orders and accept responsibility.

Contracts of Employment refers to the process of drawing up contracts which set out the rights and responsibilities of the employee and employer.

Disciplinary Procedures refers to the process of disciplining employees for misconduct, whilst following set procedures.

Functions refer to the process of different activities undertaken by HRM.

Grievance Procedures refers to the process of managing employee grievances, whilst following set procedures, with an aim of reaching a satisfactory conclusion for those involved.

Health and Safety in the Workplace refers to the process of managing the health and safety of employees in the workplace.

Job Descriptions refers to the process of drawing up job descriptions used in the recruitment process. A job description describes the job.

Motivation and Incentives refers to the process of motivating and rewarding employees, to encourage high performance.

Person Specification refers to the process of drawing up person specifications used in the recruitment process. A person specification describes the person needed to do the job. Care has to be taken when preparing person specifications in order to prevent discrimination.

Recruitment refers to the process of filling job vacancies.

Retention refers to the process of retaining top employees for the benefit of the company. This can result in a reduction of time and money spent on new recruitment and training.

Teams refer to the process of managing individual employees to collectively contribute to the business as a whole.

Workplace Culture refers to the shared beliefs, learned values and attitudes in the workplace.

The role that Personnel fulfils in the John Lewis Partnership

The John Lewis Partnership has seven principles which define how it runs its business. These are:

  • Purpose.
  • Power.
  • Profit.
  • Members.
  • Customers.
  • Business Relationships.
  • The Community.

With the ultimate purpose of the John Lewis Partnership being the happiness of all its partners, through there worthwhile and satisfying employment it can be seen that there is a great need for a successfully run Personnel team.

Personnel at the John Lewis Partnership is divided into three main sections, learning and development, personnel policy and procedures and recruitment.

Personnel plays an important role at every level of the John Lewis Partnership from management at its stores right up to the Personnel Director at head office.

Branch Personnel & Administration Managers at the John Lewis Partnership are responsible for staff issues, payroll and office. They are also responsible for new site openings and recruitment and training.

Personnel Directors at the John Lewis Partnership are responsible for setting the personnel strategy for their division including recruitment, retention, personnel policy and procedure, learning and development and driving high performance.

The complexity of the John Lewis Partnership means that a lot of the roles usually fulfilled by personnel in smaller business are distributed out between different members of the work force. Line managers play a very large role in many processes.

Below is a list of some of the activities undertaken by Personnel at the John Lewis Partnership either at head office or in individual branches.

Absence

Absence at the John Lewis Partnership is considerably lower than average for the retail sector. One reason for this could be the way in which the process is managed. Focus is made on staff wellbeing and new initiatives are continuously being introduced to keep partners healthy.

Line managers are responsible for the return-to-work interviews and investigations based on absence triggers. They are trained in absence and stress management (Wolff. C, 2008).

Appraisals

Appraisals at the John Lewis Partnership are undertaken on a yearly basis by either line or section managers. Each partner's performance is measured against a framework of six core behaviours. These are:

  • About me.
  • Leading and developing.
  • ision and creativity.
  • Team player.
  • Passionate retailer.
  • Delivering results.

Performance related pay is used to reward and encourage high performance.

Although appraisals are only undertaken on a yearly basis partners regularly receive feedback on their performance.

Benefits

The John Lewis Partnership offers an impressive benefits package on top of its annual bonus and continuously explores ideas for new policies and benefits. Benefits are available to all partners and are as follow:

  • Pension.
  • Discounts.
  • Paid holiday.
  • Extended leave.
  • Life assurance.
  • Subsidised dining facilities.
  • Holiday and leisure facilities.
  • Partners in sport.
  • Clubs and societies.
  • Ticket subsidies.
  • Education subsidies.
  • Bursary for the pursuit of excellence.
  • Working for a charity.
  • Special help in time of need.
  • Voluntary benefits and discounted deals.

Career Development

Careers Development at the John Lewis Partnership is highly encouraged and is available to both full and part-time partners. Every partner is required to develop their performance and knowledge.

Wherever possible the John Lewis Partnership promotes from within and the internal management programmes are designed to achieve this.

Learning and development needs need not be solely work related and there is the availability of over 3500 learning resources, over 35 learning centres, access to subsidies for vocational and non-vocational courses and product knowledge courses.

Employment Policies

The John Lewis Partnerships employment policies are fair and provide equal opportunities for all, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, social background, religion, disability or sexuality.

Discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated and will be dealt with in line with the Partnerships 'Fair Treatment' policy.

Recruitment

Recruitment at the John Lewis Partnership is usually undertaken by an online application, though preference is sometimes given to other methods. Interviews also play a large part in the recruitment process and depending on the outcome candidates may be asked back for a second.

The John Lewis Partnership offers graduate training schemes in Waitrose, John Lewis, Information Technology and Finance. The application process for all schemes is divided into three main stages. The first stage is an online personality questionnaire and a situational judgement test. The second stage is to answer five questions and the third stage is a two day assessment centre.

The John Lewis Partnership also offers work experience of two weeks and summer placements of six to eight weeks usually on the shop floor of either Waitrose or John Lewis and occasionally in head office.

Workplace Culture

Co-ownership is the foundation of the John Lewis Partnerships culture, a culture which is based on its seven principals. Its aim to be an employer of distinction is achievable through its culture that values the differences of those who are engaged within it.

Conclusions

This report clearly shows that without the invaluable support of Personnel the John Lewis Partnership would not be able to achieve many of its business aims and objectives. The key to its successful business lies within each and every partner and the management of these partners lies within the Personnel team.

Recommendations

Due to limited resources of first hand information it is very difficult to make any recommendations on improvements that need to be made by Personnel in the John Lewis Partnership.

Even so there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the Personnel practices that are in place are working, as the John Lewis Partnership is one of the few businesses, that as of yet, has not badly suffered due to the current economic downturn.

There has been no loss of jobs (Personneltoday.com, 2009) and partners have still received individual performance related pay increases (IRS Employment Review, 2009) and a higher than expected annual bonus of 13% (Wood Z. & Wearden G., 2009).

References

  • Biz/ed (2009) [Online]. Available at: http://www.bized.co.uk/educators/16-19/business/hrm/lesson/hrm1map.gif [Accessed: 05 December, 2009].
  • Business 2000 (2009) Resources. A-Z Glossary. Available at: http://www.business2000.ie/resources/Glossary_H.html [Accessed: 05 December, 2009].
  • Hutchinson S. & Purcell J. (2007) Change agenda. Rewarding work. The vital role of line managers. 3579 cipd. Available at: http://www.cipd.co.uk/NR/rdonlyres/72035864-98CD-495A-8CB9-96989B96E73C/0/vitalrolmgrca.pdf [Accessed: 05 December, 2009].
  • IRS Employment Review 'John Lewis: 1.5% paybill increase'. 930 September [Online] Available at: http://www.xperthr.co.uk/article/96427/john-lewis--1.15percent-paybill-increase.aspx?searchwords=john+lewis+partnership [Accessed: 13 December, 2009].
  • John Lewis Partnership (2009) About us. Available at: http://www.johnlewispartnership.co.uk/Display.aspx?MasterId=768e29e8-41aa-4716-bce2-df302fa1c3d8&NavigationId=543 [Accessed: 05 December, 2009]
  • Peacock, L. (2008) John Lewis vows poor trading figures will not lead to job cuts. Personneltoday.com [Online]. Available at: http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2008/08/27/47216/john-lewis-vows-poor-trading-figures-will-not-lead-to-job-cuts.html [Accessed: 15 December, 2009].
  • Wolff, C. (2008) 'The caring ethos at the heart of John Lewis's absence policy'. IRS Employment Review. 908 November [Online] Available at: http://www.xperthr.co.uk/article/89239/the-caring-ethos-at-the-heart-of-john-lewiss-absence-policy.aspx?searchwords=john+lewis+partnership [Accessed 13 December, 2009].
  • Wood, Z. & Wearden, G. (2009) 'John Lewis staff delighted with 13% bonus'. guardian.co.uk. 11 March, 2009 [Online] Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/mar/11/john-lewis-bonus-recession [Accessed: 15 December, 2009].