Asda People Academy

ASDAWith over 500 stores and 550 colleagues working in Human Resources, Asda’s “People Academy” was created to build HR capability and provide consistency in HR performance throughout the organisation, as well as building credibility for the function in wider operations. A key strand of this was the provision of a nationally recognised professional qualification in HR, through the CIPD. Watson Martin Partnership was appointed to deliver this programme for Asda and the pilot was launched in May 2012.

Liz Rivers, Academy & Leadership Programmes Manager, said:

The main objectives of the HR Fundamentals programme was to build capability, confidence and credibility of the HR function and to invest in our colleagues by providing CIPD accredited development. The programme delivered against each of these.

The CIPD profession map provided a robust framework for our ‘People People’ to both articulate and develop their understanding and delivery of HR practice. Participants completed a self assessed learning diagnostic pre and post programme, to measure competence in nine knowledge areas based on CIPD associate level membership criteria.

Average evaluation scores for each area increased by at least 25%. A greater depth of knowledge was seen in areas of: HR services delivery, recording HR data and analysing information. This has resulted in a pool of dedicated, engaged HR professionals who can share their learnings with others and act as role models throughout the organisation.”

Soraya Ahad, who was responsible for the programme roll out at Asda, explains why Watson Martin were appointed:

At the outset we didn’t know how big the programme would get, so we were looking to develop something that was flexible and scalable, and find a provider who could carry out the full cycle of analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation. We especially needed a partner who could understand the Asda culture. We ran a tender process based on recommendations from the CIPD, and appointed Watson Martin”

What did WMP deliver?

Watson Martin Partnership developed and delivered a 20 week programme called HR Fundamentals. It gives participants three accredited Foundation Level 3 Awards worth 10 QCF credits. The programme includes two workshops, which cover the structure and assignments of the course. Each participant has an individual tutor from Watson Martin Partnership to support them throughout the programme.

How was the programme received?

Originally piloted with 30 participants, the programme is now being rolled out to select HR colleagues across the business. Feedback shows substantial improvements in competence and confidence across all nine topic areas, and the programme is now gaining traction across the wider business. A ‘buddy’ scheme has been launched, whereby an alumnus of a previous programme mentors a current candidate. We have encouraged our business leaders to fully support their colleagues through the programme. The modular nature of the course has proved particularly popular as it provides the building blocks for bigger qualifications in the future.

Soraya was part of the original pilot scheme and says “Having an accredited qualification makes me feel more confident in my role and has validated my understanding. I feel 100% engaged with my role, I’ve seen best practice and now want to strive for excellence in all areas. Now that I am managing the roll out of the programme for others I want to help them experience that level of engagement too. It is very rewarding”.

Soraya also takes the view that “Running a professional qualification in-house gives the development team full control of content allowing for the ‘wrap-around’ features that genuinely embed learning and reinforce positive values in the organisation. What’s more, as well as being more effective as a learning intervention, a programme delivered for a cohort can be considerably more cost effective”

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