Home of talent
Our colleagues tell us that they are happier and more engaged when they feel personally connected to and supported by the Dunelm business and have access to learning and development opportunities.
We continue to grow and retain talented colleagues in the business, filling management roles internally where possible and investing in colleague training and development: over 85% of store leadership roles were filled internally during the year. We maintained a ratio of around 40:60 internal and external appointments in support roles, which reflects the labour market and our need to look outside our business to build expertise in specialised areas, such as technology, data and sustainability. At the Dunelm Leadership Team (DLT) level, through our increased focus on talent and succession, we strengthened our talent pipeline.
Retaining our colleagues
Despite the stop-start nature of our store working environments during the year, overall our unplanned labour turnover remained relatively stable: at store level turnover reduced for the third year in a row and at our support centres it increased marginally. As the labour market tightens in the coming year, we aim to give colleagues stability through purpose and permanency and evaluate how we can best help younger people (hit hard by the closing of the hospitality industry) to emerge from the prospects of longer-term unemployment.
Learning and development
We undertake a mixture of colleague training: compliance training to ensure that colleagues know their responsibilities and expected behaviours, and skills training for personal development that meets the long-term needs of the business.
Investing in our colleagues
Our training and development programmes take on board the Group’s focus areas presented to the business each year. As many of our programmes revolve around behavioural and leadership training it is difficult to measure specific return on training investment. However, overall, we monitor three key indicators: colleague retention, colleague engagement (colleagues are more likely to feel settled and committed if they feel ‘invested in’) and home-grown talent (the % of colleagues who have been promoted in the business). We are also updating our online learning systems. This is a considerable investment to help build colleague skills more intuitively through a ‘user experience platform’. We learned during the pandemic the value of introducing more interactive, bite-sized learning modules and the power of video, and these will also shape future initiatives.
Graduate and apprenticeship programmes
Our graduate programme has been running since 2016. Over 50 graduates have enrolled since its inception, including ten new hires who started in September 2021. Reflecting where we need to bolster our skills for future growth, we have developed five two-year programmes (in Technical, Data and Insight, Commercial, People and Operations, and Design) and a three-year programme in Finance. In summer 2021 we welcomed eight people on to our new internship programme – a structured, paid three-month experience offered in five different business areas. Additionally, we launched an internal retail management programme, which started in September 2020, to ‘fast track’ skills and career development. We recruited ten graduate colleagues on to our two-year course to develop future store managers and nine ‘early career’ colleagues on to a 12-month trainee programme to develop skills to equip them for leadership and trade roles.
Through the UK Government’s Kickstart funding scheme, launched in mid 2020, we have provided around 100 16- to 24-year-olds with a paid six-month job placement and aim to increase this to around 200 people as this programme gains momentum. After a three-month period, we give attendees the opportunity to apply for level 2 retail apprenticeships which aim to offer additional maths and English skills. Our apprenticeships improve social mobility, plug skills gaps in areas where it is hard to recruit people and allow us to target high-potential groups of colleagues.