Blog Img

5 Minutes With.. Mark Tomlinson at Pizza Express

Back to Blogs


This week, Associate Director, Richa Arora sat down with Mark Tomlinson, Head of Talent & Inclusion at PizzaExpress to explore employer branding communications in consumer brands and how best to nurture a more unified, engaged workforce.

Mark has had an esteemed career in global and national consumer brands, and he now heads up talent and inclusion at PizzaExpress, overseeing all talent planning, recruitment and DE&I activity. In this piece, Mark discusses the different ways businesses can engage a multi-level, nation-wide workforce and his experience with employer branding at PizzaExpress.

What should businesses know about engaging today’s workforce?

In my experience, communication is key to engagement. Businesses need to communicate openly and transparently. Similarly, to how we may speak to our customers, it’s key we speak openly and honestly with our teams. I find that in being able to clearly communicate messages to the wider business, teams benefit from the transparency greatly, working as a team to offer support and focus where it is needed. This also only works when it is applied across every level of the business - people feel bought in, they feel empowered, they feel a part of a wider, connected workforce. Particularly in the face of adversity or unexpected difficulties, we’ve found that communicating key messages clearly has always supported us in driving team engagement.

How do consumer businesses communicate effectively?

At PE, we’re a family of 10,000 people, across our restaurants and support teams in the UK and Ireland. In any consumer business, having clarity and consistency in your messaging and what you’re asking your teams to align behind and work to achieve is key.In every business the messages will differ, but, the leadership team living and breathing the values and behaviours and ensuring everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet brings this to life and enhances credibility.At PizzaExpress, we aim to achieve this by having simple and clear communications around our strategy and the projects that deliver it and ensuring robust inductions and training for all teams. In our restaurants, the induction will be very team-centric and focused around the skills to do their role, for restaurant support (what we call our ‘head office’), the induction, kit and training will differ by role, but our brand and Soho spirit is at the core of every welcome. Critically, everyone who joins us will spend time working in our restaurants, seeing what it’s like on the floor and how their central roles supports and impacts the restaurant teams.

Talk to us about employer branding, what can it look like?

I believe it’s key that an employer brand is relatable to a consumer brand, but stands out as its own entity. Anyone who sees it needs to recognise and know which brand it relates to and be able to communicate both what it’s like working here and how we’d like our team to deliver to our customer.As ever, your brand needs to be born out of an EVP that is the essence of why your teams love working in your business

Lastly, do you have any EVP gems to leave us with?

 Clearly, an EVP has to come from your teams, but it’s got to be lived and breathed every day, through every level of a business to be truly authentic. As leaders, we all need to take care of our teams and ensure they can take can of your customers. People are your biggest assets, it’s so true, it’s a bit overused now! We really believe that in empowering our people, drives better results. I’ve got three things, I believe, help to keep your people happy and performing well:

  • Train, manage and lead your people every day to have teams that are supported, trained

  • Give them space and autonomy to achieve your North Star or goal

  • Saying Thank You! make sure you recognise a great piece of work, shift or interaction. This doesn’t need to be huge, sometimes just that thank you at the end of a day goes a long way.  


If you’d like to talk about your talent acquisition strategies, regardless of whether you’re looking to hire now, or in the near future, then reach out to us on

Need support with employer brand strategy? In part of the wider Majar Group, Major Players is part of four market specialists, providing our communities with the opportunity to leverage a legacy that spans 50+ years. Our newest Majar partner brand, Pivotis a talent consultancy for hypergrowth enterprises – advising the world's most innovative entrepreneurs and tech brands, providing flexible, scalable talent solutions with global expertise across all stages of the hiring process; with complementary abilities in talent strategies, employer branding and early career programs. Reach out to Nic Dray to learn more about how Pivot can support your efforts in building a desirable talent brand.