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Learning and development

Realising your potential

Our Learning and Development programmes are designed to support our employees to reach their potential in whichever way they would like their career to progress. As part of this, we focus on supporting and developing talented individuals within WHSmith. Throughout the year we provide various programmes and initiatives that are designed to engage our employees in learning and development. We regularly review and develop these activities, to ensure that they continue to meet the requirements of our business and the learning and development needs for our employees.

We continue to implement our ‘Realising your Potential’ initiative, focusing on improving succession planning and talent review within the business. The initiative includes three six-month courses focusing on developing the skills and behaviours that we know will support an individual’s progression as well as delivering business benefits to our organisation. The courses focus on leadership and management development, career development and negotiation. All courses include individual coaching, psychometric testing, 360-degree feedback and workshops, and are supported by online learning.

Mentoring also plays a critical role in the development of our talent pipeline at all levels as it provides targeted one-to one support from a more senior role model. Managers and Senior Executives act as mentors supporting employees with their unique development requirements to ensure they are ready to take on more stretching roles.

In May 2018, we held ‘Learning at Work Week’ at our London and Swindon offices, and employees were encouraged to attend as many workshops as they wished. Many of the workshops were hosted by members of the senior leadership team and the Board, but we also invited external experts to run sessions. The workshops covered a range of themes such as Leading the Future of Retailing, The Networked Learner, Physical and Mental Wellbeing and Talent and Performance.

We also ran a number of business skills workshops in Head Office as standalone sessions to support individuals to learn some of the key skills they need to do their job effectively. These included Project Management, Excel, Presenting skills and Teradata sessions. Individuals have regular career conversations with their managers during the year, with more formal performance reviews taking place annually. In addition to monitoring performance, we also use a model of employee potential to help us to identify, develop and retain our talent within the business.

Our Academy programmes are designed to improve the internal succession into higher management roles within our business, focusing on the technical and behavioural elements required to be successful within WHSmith.

Our current wave of apprenticeship qualifications for 37 of our team leaders in our Travel Business is due to end in November 2018, resulting in a nationally recognised Level 3 Retail Qualification for those taking part. In our High Street business, where we are transforming a number of our highest volume stores, we have provided extra training and development to store managers.