Recruitment and selection
A Tesco case study

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Page 2: Workforce planning

Workforce planning is the process of analysing an organisation's likely future needs for people in terms of numbers, skills and locations. It allows the organisation to plan how those needs can be met through recruitment and training. It is vital for a company like Tesco to plan ahead. Because the company is growing, Tesco needs to recruit on a regular basis for both the food and non-food parts of the business.

Positions become available because:

  • jobs are created as the company opens new stores in the UK and expands internationally
  • vacancies arise as employees leave the company when they retire or resign or get promotion to other positions within Tesco
  • new types of jobs can be created as the company changes its processes and technology

Tesco uses a workforce planning table to establish the likely demand for new staff. This considers both managerial and non-managerial positions.

In 2008/09, for example, Tesco calculates that to support its business growth there will be a demand for around 4,000 new managers.

The planning process

This planning process runs each year from the last week in February. There are quarterly reviews in May, August and November, so Tesco can adjust staffing levels and recruit where necessary. This allows Tesco sufficient time and flexibility to meet its demands for staff and allows the company to meet its strategic objectives, for example, to open new stores and maintain customer service standards.

Tesco seeks to fill many vacancies from within the company. It recognises the importance of motivating its staff to progress their careers with the company. Tesco practises what it calls 'talent planning'. This encourages people to work their way through and up the organisation.

Through an annual appraisal scheme, individuals can apply for 'bigger' jobs. Employees identify roles in which they would like to develop their careers with Tesco. Their manager sets out the technical skills, competencies and behaviours necessary for these roles, what training this will require and how long it will take the person to be ready to do the job. This helps Tesco to achieve its business objectives and employees to achieve their personal and career objectives.

Job descriptions and person specifications

An important element in workforce planning is to have clear job descriptions and person specifications. A job description sets out:

  • the title of the job
  • to whom the job holder is responsible
  • for whom the job holder is responsible
  • a simple description of roles and responsibilities

A person specification sets out the skills, characteristics and attributes that a person needs to do a particular job.

Together, job descriptions and person specifications provide the basis for job advertisements. They help job applicants and post-holders to know what is expected of them. At Tesco these documents are combined.  As they are sent to anyone applying for jobs, they should:

  • contain enough information to attract suitable people
  • act as a checking device to make sure that applicants with the right skills are chosen for interview
  • set the targets and standards for job performance.

Job descriptions and person specifications show how a job-holder fits into the Tesco business. They help Tesco to recruit the right people. They also provide a benchmark for each job in terms of responsibilities and skills. These help managers to assess if staff are carrying out jobs to the appropriate standards.

Tesco | Recruitment and selection