Marks and Spencer takes a mixed approach to staff motivation

Retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) uses a range of methods to motivate its employees without spending too much of its benefits budget.

Marks and Spencer

With 75,000 employees across more than 800 UK stores, M&S uses traditional cost-cutting methods and technology to engage staff. For example, its internal social media network Yammer helps bring workers together, as well as congratulate them for hard work.

Throughout February 2015, 15,000 M&S staff were in conversation across the Yammer network, which was 15.7% more than in the previous month, despite there being no specific drive to increase this in February. This resulted in 63,000 message posts, 112,000 likes and 18,000 pictures posted on Yammer in February.

Sarah Findlater, head of employee relations and employee engagement at M&S, says: “Teams often use Yammer to congratulate colleagues on great in-store displays and it links to the M&S Living the Values app, which workers can use to post messages to congratulate colleagues on their work, which can then be posted to live feed on Yammer.”

The retailer includes an employee-of-the-month award on its internal communications page, which recognises employees that illustrate M&S’s values of being innovative and inspirational. The award also acknowledges outstanding achievements by M&S workers who show passion and commitment to their co-workers, and go the extra mile for customers. Each month, workers submit their nominations to their line manager and one employee is selected from the nominations. There is no specific prize for winners, as it is chosen each month by the department that the winner belongs to.

M&S also offers staff performance incentives. For example, when model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley launched her first fragrance in February 2015, employees were informed that whichever store sold the most bottles would get a visit from the head of beauty or regional manager, along with Huntington-Whiteley. This generated anticipation and engagement from teams, and staff shared best-practice tips and ideas of how to drive sales on social media.

Findlater says: “Celebrating the efforts of our employees is very important to us and recognition is one of the most important factors in inspiring our teams to keep up the good work.

“By introducing innovative recognition methods to our workplace we can now acknowledge any of our colleagues who are displaying great work and share this with the rest of the M&S team.”