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2011 Best Employers - International

Marks and Spencer plc

Under flexible retirement system, older workers can draw pension while continuing to work

Winning Year: 2011
Industry: Retail
Location: London
Employees: 63,992; Percentage over age 50: 33.23

Marks & Spencer, a leading UK department store, offers a partial retirement scheme that allows older workers to draw company pension benefits while continuing to work part time. Through this program, Marks & Spencer has doubled the number of 65 and over employees on its payroll. The company's health promotion initiatives include an interactive Web portal that offers employees comprehensive health information, discussion boards and a popular feature that allows employees to make health pledges.

See also: How the 2011 Best Employers winners were selected.

Additional policies and practices:

Lifelong Learning and Training: Marks and Spencer treats all employees as individuals and customizes training accordingly. Customer Assistants are offered continuous development training, allowing them to advance their service skills.

Training courses are often a combination of e-learning, work books and workshops so all learning styles can be accommodated. Leadership courses are offered at all levels from junior management to senior management/executive level.

The company recently introduced the program Career Paths to help customer assistants gain a clear view of how they can move through promotion levels. Assessment and training programs are also run to support internal promotion.

Training programs are not targeted specifically to older workers but a wide range of training options are offered to ensure high accessibility.

Marks and Spencer monitors the effectiveness of training options and offers employees the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions in an annual survey.

Flexible Work Arrangements: Marks and Spencer believes in supporting an inclusive workforce, thus all employees can request a flexible work arrangement.

Many employees request to work part time; 73 percent of the company's employees work on a part-time basis. Older workers take particular advantage of this opportunity, with 83 percent of workers aged 51 and older working part time. Though most part-time workers serve in junior roles, 25 percent of first-line managers work part time and several senior managers now work on a part-time basis.

Job-sharing is also available and particularly advantageous for store managers.

Term-time working is another popular option, especially for parents or grandparents caring for grandchildren. In a term-time situation employees work during the school terms and take unpaid leave during the summer months.

Next: Online health pledges, high employee satisfaction. >>

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