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HR Strategy for Retail SME UK Organization: Using the CIPD Profession Map at Associate Level

The Scenario

You have recently secured an interview for a graduate scheme for a UK retail SME organisation. As part of the assessment selection process, the management team have asked you to present a paper referring to the CIPD Profession Map, at Associate Level, (Purpose, Core knowledge & Core behaviour). This is to be based on your own core knowledge and behaviours and what added value and impact you can bring to their HR team, to support their people management strategy, whilst the organisation goes through on-going internal and external changes, based on the current climate.

The business has two owners whose expertise is in fashion and marketing. They have a Finance Director, an Operational Director and a small HR Team of three which is led by a Team Leader.  The business employs 200 people and due to consumer demand for online shopping during the pandemic, it is expanding rapidly. They have six shops on high streets in the North of England and due to the increased online presence, it is planning to expand this to other areas in the UK to enhance their visibility.  They manufacture out of the Far East.


The leadership style is one that values people but with the rapid growth of late and issues with staffing during the pandemic, sometimes this has been overlooked.  The management team want to address this, they are keen to retain and develop their employees so they can grow their own talent.  They want to increase the role of HR which is now an administrative function, to one that is more involved in supporting the planned growth in a proactive way.   They are now looking for a graduate to join the HR Team to help create an HR strategy that will help drive the changes ahead.

“Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is any business with fewer than 250 employees. There were 6.0 million SMEs in the UK in 2020, which was over 99% of all businesses” (Ward, M. (2021)

1- External environment  & internal capability audit (PESTLE & SWOT not included in the word count as templates).
1a-Carry out a PESTLE analysis to assess the current external situation for retail SME UK organisations, with an emphasis on people management aspects (Use PESTLE template on Moodle).

1b-Assess the key influential aspects from your PESTLE analysis and produce a SWOT analysis to assess the current internal situation for retail SME UK organisations, with an emphasis on people management aspects (Use SWOT template on Moodle).


2-HR strategy to support organisational change (2,000 words)

For an HR team to make changes and implement a strategy to support the entire organisation and wider stakeholders, fundamental core knowledge and behaviours, on people management, need to be embedded. Assess your findings from your SWOT analysis. Then using the CIPD Profession Map at associate level as a framework guide, discuss how your core knowledge and behaviours would help to inform the HR team and contribute towards a change in their people management strategy to add value and have a measurable impact from a people management perspective. 


Use a combination of industry good practice, CIPD insights and people management theories.

The CIPD website can be found on this link: Profession Map | CIPD Profession Map 

Use the sub-headings based from key aspects of your SWOT/linked to areas.
Use 3rd person 
Essay format, use paragraphs to start a new idea
No introduction or conclusion are needed
Only use applied diagrams, referenced
You don’t need to discuss all the areas, better to select a few but keep connected so it flows.
Assignment layout and support will be provided as part of sessions.

People practice
Culture and behaviour
Business acumen
Evidence-based practice
Technology and people

Ethical practice
Professional courage and influence
Valuing people
Working inclusively
Commercial drive
Passion for learning
Insights focused
Situational decision-making

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