Hospitality giant wins top prize at 2019 CIPD People Management Awards

Judges impressed with Mitchells & Butlers’ cost-saving retention strategy, with O2 and the NHS among other winners

Mitchells & Butlers was awarded the top prize at last night’s 2019 CIPD People Management Awards, as judges praised its innovative approach to talent management. 

A decline in applications from EU workers and uptake of food technology qualifications saw the pub and restaurant chain spending millions on recruitment. Its solution was a perfectly realised strategy with an ambition to nurture young talent, which reduced turnover and saved thousands.

The judges commended the organisation for being connected to the business need and purpose with “fantastic results”, and concluded that it delivered a creative and innovative approach to internal and external talent management – earning it the gong for best talent initiative, as well as overall winner.

CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese kicked off the ceremony, held at London’s glamorous Grosvenor House Hotel, by praising the profession for its role in the face of uncertainty. 

Cheese told the audience there had never been a time when HR issues were so important for businesses, adding: “We live in interesting times,” and citing Brexit, changing demographics, social change and the rapid pace of technology as particular issues for the field.

With the evening’s planned compère, BBC News anchor Huw Edwards, called away at the eleventh hour to report on the day’s plentiful political machinations, the ceremony was instead presented by BBC Radio 2 stalwart Jeremy Vine.

Vine regaled the audience with tales of his extensive career in radio, before handing out awards to – among others – West Midlands Police for best L&D initiative in the public or third sector; the Crown Prosecution Service for best resourcing initiative; and student Aimee Hull, who put her CIPD training to good use at the Northern Ireland-based Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company and scooped the advanced level Michael Kelly outstanding student award.

A full list of the winners is below. Details of highly commended entries and other shortlisted organisations can be found on the CIPD People Management Awards website, which also includes the stories behind the winning entries.

Best talent management initiative

Mitchells & Butlers

Michael Kelly outstanding student award – advanced level

Aimee Hull, Coca-Cola HBC

Michael Kelly outstanding student – foundation/intermediate

Julie Brounos, c2c

Best skills-based volunteering initiative

Boots UK and Macmillan Cancer Support 

Best digital/technology initiative in HR/L&D


Best apprenticeship scheme

NIE Networks

Best HR/L&D consultancy

Atkinson HR Consulting

Best employee experience initiative

Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Best L&D initiative – public/third sector

West Midlands Police 

Best L&D initiative – private sector

Saudi Aramco

Best resourcing initiative

Crown Prosecution Service

Best reward or recognition initiative

Ports of Jersey

Best health and wellbeing initiative

NHS Transformation Unit

HR and L&D team of the year


Best SME team management initiative


Best diversity and inclusion initiative


Best change management initiative

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Best coaching and mentoring initiative

Barts Health NHS Trust

Best HR/L&D supplier

Blackbridge Communications