H&M deploys its global strategy “Best Employer of Choice” in France with certification training programs

"This is one of the most ambitious programs of the retail sector, from a pedagogical, logistical, and administrative point of view"

Olivier GONDRY

HR Director

H&M

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H&M deploys its global strategy “Best Employer of Choice” in France with certification training programs

Sector

Retail

Uitdaging

Attracting and retaining talent

With various different brands (Cos, Weekday, & Other Stories, etc.) and more than one store opening in the world every day, the fast growing H&M Group makes every effort to support the development of its employees.
As a result, H&M has implemented a strong skills development policy, and a diverse program of certification training programs developed in collaboration with CrossKnowledge. Their purpose: foster employability and career growth.

The H&M Group is a leader in its sector, present in 59 countries, and recruits 12,000 employees yearly. It has 6,500 employees in France, where it has a network of nearly 200 outlets.

Professional certification to recognize employee development

The cornerstone of H&M’s HR strategy is their policy of encouraging and promoting talent. “All of our employees are talented, and our job is to help that talent grow and develop so that our employees can later on take on greater responsibility in new positions in France and around the world,” explains Olivier Gondry, H&M’s Head of HR in France. The brand’s French representatives also contribute their own “French touch” abroad, in the United States, China, and the rest of the world. To support this strategy, H&M has highly advanced training programs, establishing the fundamental values of the brand: fashion and quality at the best price, ethically sourced.

Awarding employees via certification programs naturally followed. “Employees do not necessarily start at H&M with a degree in hand, so we provide resources for them to develop skills within the Group. Certification is the icing on the cake, and it opens the path to Level II and III professional certification.” To make sure of the highest quality of their clients’ shopping experience, the Group also rewards employee’s daily commitment.

Overall, 390 certification training cycles have been rolled out over eight months. This made for a total of 200,000 hours of training in a custom multi-platform program, bolstered by the teaching experience and logistical support of CrossKnowledge’s teams. “This is one of the most ambitious programs in the retail sector, from a pedagogical, logistical and administrative point of view,” Gondry indicated. It was also validated by Forco, the French joint commission for collective training in sales and distribution.

High level and interactive training linked to competency mode

The cycles offered in this certification program last about 500 hours and require the employee to invest a considerable amount of their time. Combining classroom sessions with distance learning came as a necessity, as it provided flexibility in availability, and ensured team commitment. “We were interested in using the different distance learning trainings developed by CrossKnowledge, and being able to specifically target and build our own additional training modules for our teams.” Each employee that is trained can then go on to choose what further interests them in the CrossKnowledge training catalog in order to maximize skills acquisition.
Some content is integral to the training program, and therefore mandatory. Employees must complete these courses remotely. In order to do so, they are provided with the required IT tools and solutions . “It is a win-win at all levels: collaboration between H&M, two schools, CrossKnowledge and Forco led to a program being developed that will improve our staff’s employability, and prepare them for new challenges and new expectations of clients in retail.”

Partner schools for maximum professional development

Department Managers and Visual Merchandisers are the two groups targeted for training, which contains a common core of skills to improve the shopping experience, and specific subjects depending on their job profile. In this program, Department Managers perform a dual role, managing department finances, as well as managing human resources for their teams. Innovation and leadership modules were developed with the ESG Management School to earn a diploma (Bac +3 equivalent in France) in Marketing and Sales Management. For Visual Merchandisers, MJM Graphic Design, an applied school of arts, is involved in a more architectural sense, so as to optimize placement of clothing and develop customer reception to increase store visibility. This training results is an Interior Arrangement Specialist diploma (Bac +2 equivalent in France). “We greatly benefit from the expertise of the teachers from these schools,” Gondry pointed out.

The initial results are very encouraging: “We are seeing an 80% success rate on the target groups. Participants have given the learning experience excellent reviews, and above all are pleased with the recognition received when obtaining a diploma,” Gondry pointed out.

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