Behind the transformation of Accenture’s employee experience

Randy Wandmacher from accenture on employee experience transformation

There were four key drivers behind Accenture’s employee experience transformation, which has resulted in an improved candidate experience externally as well as higher levels of performance within the business, according to its head of HR.

The first key driver for improving the employee experience within Accenture related to changes in consumerism in the digital era and the ability to meet expectations of candidates and employees.

“We get accustomed to things like Amazon knowing what products we might want to buy through predictive capabilities,” said Randy Wandmacher, ANZ HR lead for Accenture, a global management consulting and professional services firm with net revenues of US$39.6 billion last year and more than 459,000 employees globally.

“And with Spotify, as we listen to music through their service we become accustomed to them curating and promoting music we’re interested in.”

This sentiment of consumerism in people’s personal lives is transcending into their professional lives, according to Wandmacher, who said current and future employees subsequently have different expectations of their employer and what they are able to offer.

The second key driver for the transformation of Accenture’s employee experience related to the integration of work and personal life, which Wandmacher said was becoming increasingly “co-mingled”.

“Technology and the digital age are enabling this, with increased collaboration and the use of platforms which are also for social media, recruiting and the sharing of ideas – which really prompted us to think about our own talent practices,” he said.

Similarly, the ability of employees being able to work anywhere, anytime, anyplace was another key driver.

“Traditional models of working in a corporate office from 9-5, 5 days a week, are just outdated and old,” said Wandmacher, who spoke at a Gallup event on workplace transformation in Sydney.

“Traditional models of working in a corporate office from 9-5, 5 days a week, are just outdated and old”

“Our employees were wanting to work from home and to an adjusted schedule based on the roles they held.”

The last driver for Accenture related to demographics, and Wandmacher explained that there are five generations currently employed in the workforce.

“We realised that we need to think of the experience and various needs of those generations, and how they career journeys are different,” he said.

“We need to be able to provide a much more tailored and curated experience.”

These four drivers underpinned one of Accenture’s key goals: the ability to attract and recruit the right talent into the business.

“Based on the research we saw and the market drivers around us, we knew that traditional, homogenous HR talent practices were insufficient to wage war for talent,” he said.

“We believe that the war for talent has been raging for many years, and that talent is winning.

“The organisations that are ahead in this game are creating experiences that are appealing and compelling to that talent, and they will choose these organisations over competitors,” said Wandmacher.

Taking a cross-functional approach
A key component of the employee experience transformation strategy was educating senior leadership across multiple functions about what this really meant for the business.

“In talking about evolving our talent practices to create different experiences for our employees, we had to help our leaders understand that this was more than HR practices,” said Wandmacher.

“We believe that the war for talent has been raging for many years, and that talent is winning”

“This had to do with the intersection of a variety of functions and capabilities which influence how an employee experiences our company. So, we had to define it for them.”

A definition was developed around the employee experience being the interactions that people have with Accenture across all aspects of their career, and this affects the feelings and thinking of employees – which flows into their behaviour and ultimately their performance.

Wandmacher explained that interactions encompass processes, policies, transactions, enabling technologies, people decisions and the span of organisational boundaries.

In putting the strategy for the transformation of the business’ employee experience in place, cross-functional representation across the business was required.

“We involved our people in the design, so it was a real process of co-creation with real people,” he said.

“If it’s just HR sitting in the backroom designing what will be rolled out to people, HR has missed the point.

“Transforming the employee experience encompasses more than just HR; we needed our IT, marketing, facilities and real estate functions – the full breadth of capabilities to jointly co-create the experience for our people,” said Wandmacher.

“From a candidate perspective, they might be a new hire which is HR’s domain, but they also need to get building access, be computer-enabled and have their benefits enrolled.

“There are a variety of interactions, which historically were often clunky, did not flow seamlessly or weren’t a good experience.

“So, by coming together and collaborating cross-functionally we were able to design an experience that feels good for our people,” he said.

“If it’s just HR sitting in the backroom designing what will be rolled out to people, HR has missed the point”

Improving performance achievement through the employee experience
There have been a number of benefits to Accenture in transforming its employee experience, according to Wandmacher, who said there has been a strong focus on performance achievement within the business.

“On a qualitative side, there is much richer dialogue occurring more frequently with our people to understand not only what they’re doing, but also what they are capable of and interested in,” he said.

“So, there is better knowledge and understanding of one another, and this has led to greater transparency within the business, better data resulting from the interactions between leaders and their teams, as well as more clarity and ultimately understanding what motivates our people.”

Accenture uses Gallup’s strengths-based model internally as well as Gallup’s Q12 index, and Wandmacher said these helped provide the business with the research data to inform the transformation strategy, as well as the analytics to track the success of it in terms of how employees are engaging in different geographies around the world.

The transformation has also driven greater levels of accountability across the business, said Wandmacher, who explained that there is a higher number of leaders directly involved in the total rewards process and making transparent compensation decisions for people.

“And if somebody has a question or they’re unsatisfied and think they may have deserved more for whatever reason, there is a very clear line of sight as to who is involved in those discussions – and to be able to engage and understand better why they did or didn’t get what they thought they may have deserved,” he said.

Improving culture and talent attraction
Wandmacher added that there have been other benefits, including an improvement in Accenture’s culture and talent attraction: “we’re moving it more in the direction that we want to by enabling our people to achieve more, and can affirm the attraction and the brand presence because the level of interest from talent in joining Accenture is higher than it’s ever been,” he said.

“And then there’s the question of what this is worth, and in reflection I would say absolutely: if we had stayed the same then we wouldn’t be improving,” said Wandmacher.

“It’s less about a specific ROI and more about the stewardship of the organisation to continue to evolve and advance the experience of our people, in order to create an environment that is unparalleled so that they can thrive, grow and develop.”