Ten years ago I interviewed for a part-time Sales Associate position for a new store opening. The company was Hennes & Mauritz Inc., now universally known as H&M. What started out as a part-time job for me eventually developed into a full-time career as a Visual Manager for one of their store locations. That would not have been possible if it wasn’t for a combination of training initiatives from various managers and store teams who believed in me and my potential. Today, H&M has the benefit of social media platforms that enable the company to develop, train and engage current employees as well as scout and hire potential employees.
Living and practising our seven core values is what makes H&M employees stand out from the rest. Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup said it perfectly, “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace”. These are wise words to live by when your employees are in the business of serving customers. How does a company go about achieving such a task? According to Laura Hammond, H&M’s Employee Relations Specialist, “we have to find ways to make H&M a better place to work”. Maria C. Gonzalez from the Department of Sociology at the University of Oviedo, Spain wrote an article about workers’ direct participation at the workplace and its effect on job quality. She stated, “for the business, direct participation elicits workers’ tacit knowledge and improves communications while raising workers’ awareness of the business situation and improving labour productivity and flexibility”.
Laura and her team created the yearly ‘Great Place to Work’ survey which allows current employees to rate their job experience with the company based on their experiences in the previous year. Her team then reviews the results and creates an action plan with each set of store employees and their management team to improve upon their areas of greatest need. H&M recognizes their long standing employees by gifting them with the “Gold” name badge, a token of great pride for many of its employees. Laura and her team also recognized that “good people know good people” and that many potential employees join our ranks through referrals from current employees. So the task at hand was to get people to know H&M as an employer and not just another fashion retailer. H&M introduced the #placeofpossible campaign across North America to showcase the stories of their current employees in order to reach out to potential new hires.
By using the hashtag #HMgptw on instagram and twitter, employees have the ability to give some insight on the daily store operations and share their experiences of H&M as employees. In turn once the posts are seen by potential employees they will consider H&M as an employer while the results of the campaign are posted in our weekly internal bulletin known as ‘Shop Info’. H&M is also partnered with Venngo, a work perks site which is a “corporate work perks program with private access to a growing list of discounts from 1200 national brand and local businesses”. “Work Perks” contests are occasionally offered to all employees part time or full time at H&M Canada to drive employee engagement online.
Ian Hutchinson, author of People glue once stated, “Your number one customers are your people. Look after your employees first and then customers last”. In keeping with this philosophy, H&M was recognized and awarded last April as one of the top 50 Employers in Canada. http://career.hm.com/content/hmcareer/en_ca/workingathm/get-to-know-us/great-place-to-work.html In order to celebrate this huge achievement with its employees, surprise totes were sent to all its stores country wide with an announcement of the award accompanied by decorations and pizza! H&M also has its own version of the Oscars, known as the Golden Hanger Awards to recognize its outstanding employees, management and staff. In addition to the award reception there is a variety of training and development sessions available to store managers who fly across the country for this yearly event. In collaboration with this event, employees had to submit a short video about H&M and how it is a great place to work with the incentive of winning an Ipad at the conclusion of the contest.
Every Tuesday and Thursday the H&M Twitter and Facebook accounts are updated with a focus on employee development while appealing to new hires to help them grow their company profiles. An article published by the Financial Post highlighting retail as a career choice featured H&M’s Canada Country Manager, Toni Galli, on all their social media platforms to display the solidarity felt with all H&M employees.
Lessons for Others
I have hopefully shed some light on the benefits of working for a company that firmly believes in creating and maintaining employee engagement. Thinking back on my journey with H&M for the past ten years, I have been encouraged to grow as an individual while learning new tasks and skills on a daily basis. It is this company and its employees, my work family if you will, that have made me the employee I am today. I am grateful for the advice, the feedback and the knowledge provided to me, not only as I advanced my career but also in writing this blog. So I will conclude with a few words by Dale Carnegie, “throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours”. Thank you H&M!
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Hennes & Mauritz Inc.
Name of Organization Contact: Laura Hammond, Employee Relations Specialist
Authored by: Marelle Pint
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
- 30 INSPIRATIONAL EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT QUOTES http://www.frontstream.com/30-inspirational-employee-engagement-quotes/
- Workers’ direct participation at the workplace and job quality in Europe by Maria C Gonzalez, Department of Sociology, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain
- Retail, an Underrated career path? H&M Canada wants to change that perception by Hollie Shaw for the Financial Post
- WorkPerks Main page, https://www.venngo.com/index.php?base=/welcome&action=workPerks