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 By Sinakho Dlamini, HR Content Specialist, Top Employers Institute
By Sinakho Dlamini, HR Content Specialist, Top Employers Institute

How Accenture is Enhancing their Employee Experience Using Flexibility

The importance of an employee's experience in any organisation cannot be devalued. Certified Top Employer Accenture knows that employee experience is crucial to their success. In response, they have focused their strategy to improve on their approach to employee experience programmes. The world of work is changing. That has caused many companies to search for sustainable ways of working to meet the changing expectations of their workforce. Accenture is not only accepting this challenge but actively meeting it with new and inventive measures.

In the latest of our ‘For a Better World of Work’ series we joined Accenture’s Jacqueline Haver-Droeze (Human Resources Director France, Accenture) and Jonas van Wees (Regional HR Auditor, Top Employers Institute) for Flexibility for a Better Employee Experience at Accenture. Jacqueline and Jonas explored how Accenture France enhances their employee experience through their Flexibility Programme.

Rethinking the Candidate Experience

The global pandemic, for many companies, pushed them to rethink their approach to candidate experience but even before this Accenture had already begun to grapple with how they could improve their employee experience. An essential aspect of their company culture is their desire and interest in reinventing themselves. As Accenture rethought their approach to employee experience, they realised that it was not limited to their current employees.  Instead, they realised that it needs to be considered before an employee even starts at the company.

The process of revisiting and rethinking their employee experience led Accenture to learn from many different groups. They first began internally with the people who know their organisation best, their employees. They set up several diverse focus groups with people from all departments within the business at different career levels and asked them what they expected as they approached the future of work. Their next step was to benchmark what they were doing against other organisations around them. They looked at everyone, from large international companies to new start-ups to help increase their knowledge about other strategies addressing this issue of employee experience.

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A Kaleidoscope Approach to the Employee Experience

The increase in their understanding coupled with the tremendous progress in technology guided them as they redefined their approach to the future of work and their employees experience at work. Accenture learnt that what was important to them and the people working for them was to find individual employees best work-life balance. There is not a one size fits all approach to making this work for their employees. Instead, to find the best balance for each individual they would need to create personalised experiences.

To implement this change, they used a kaleidoscope approach to introduce their personalised flexibility measures. The kaleidoscope approach is Accenture giving their employees several choices that they can make to improve their experience within the organisation. The choices start at giving their employees the choice to work from home at their discretion – whether this is one day a week or five. They have full flexibility over their working environment, but they do need to make sure that it is compatible with their other team members and manager.

The second measure that they integrated into their people practices was the introduction of the flexible workweek. Accenture has begun to experiment with allowing their employees the choice between working the traditional five days a week or to work four days a week. The choice allows employees to become in charge of their time and even this choice is flexible to more change. An employee may, for example, choose to work a four-day workweek for several weeks and then as changes happen in their personal life, they may find that a four-day workweek suits them better. Whether these changes are to give them more time to unwind from work or spend with their family the flexibility allows them to be in the driving seat to how they manage their productivity. Accenture relies on the trust that they have built between themselves and their employees to know what needs to be done will be done.

The third measure Accenture has been exploring is reliant on giving people depending on their career stage and length of time at the company the opportunity to take a break from the company. These breaks can be taken without the employee needing to go into detail as to why they need to step away from the company for a while. If an employee who had been at Accenture for five years decided to take a three-month break from the company for any reason, they would still be paid 50% of their salary while they were away. While the restrictions and rules around this measure are not yet set in stone, Accenture knows that they need to take in the personal profile of any employee that believes they need to take advantage of this programme.

All these measures are reliant on the high levels of trust Accenture have built with their employees over time. They also rely on Accenture’s new belief that everyone’s approach to work is personal and as the working world changes they need to embrace and reinvent their approach to their practices. The future of improved employee experience needs organisations to be flexible and agile as they meet the future.

Final Takeaway

Embracing flexibility in several ways and continually monitoring the measures allows them to refine and reconstruct their programmes until they get the best out of their strategy. As Accenture’s flexibility practices change, the focus on their employees does not. Employees are at the heart of the decisions they make. Their happiness is a fundamental consideration for the continued success of their business.