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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

Health Promotion and Protection: Marks and Spencer pursues a preventive strategy in health promotion and protection. Proactive support and assistance are offered to employees to ensure their well-being and prevent problems from occurring.

The company launched a new Web initiative, the Well-being Website, to offer an innovative and comprehensive approach to employee health care. The site links to a number of community groups, discussion forums and local health providers. There are also videos, podcasts and expert information available. Employees can pledge to improve their specific wellbeing or health issue on the website. Currently, 10,500 employees have pledged to make improvements.

Free breast screenings are available to female employees and female partners of employees aged 40 and over through a private health care provider. The National Health Service does not begin to offer screenings until women are 50.

Diversity Promotion: In 2001, the company removed its mandatory retirement age of 65. Marks and Spencer was a decade ahead of the British government, which waited until April 2011 to remove the mandatory retirement age. The mandatory retirement age was removed in response to employee feedback. Managers were reluctant to let go of productive employees approaching retirement.

As a result the company's workforce is more diverse than ever and better reflects Marks and Spencer's customer base.

Marks and Spencer has long advocated on behalf of older workers to remove the national mandatory retirement age. The company has shared its experiences and responded to government requests for information.

In 2006 the company established a flexible retirement program. Employees who are part of a pension scheme can start drawing their pension at age 55, while continuing to work for the company. Many employees will start drawing from their pension and switch to part-time work.

Recruitment: Marks and Spencer tries to recruit in a manner that reflects the local population and customer base. Its recruitment marketing is designed to be inclusive and appeal to people of all ages. During new store openings, targeted recruitment may be pursued to reflect local demographics.

Marks and Spencer does use targeted recruitment for its Marks and Starts program, which works with four charity partners to target individuals who find traditional routes to employment difficult.

Miscellaneous: Marks and Spencer wants all employees to feel passionately about the M&S brand. To achieve this end, it the company introduced store champions who serve as role models and communicate key issues throughout the company.

The Plan A Volunteer Awards recognize employees who have served their local communities. All employees are offered a paid volunteering day to encourage service to local communities.

The company's employee satisfaction levels clearly demonstrate that Marks and Spencer is a popular place to work: 70 percent of employees would recommend Marks and Spencer as a place to work and 86 percent of employees with 25 or more years of service are confident they will be working for Marks and Spencer in a year's time.

Return to list of 2011 Best Employers - International winners. >>

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