One of the achievements we’re proudest of at REPL, Part of Accenture, is our remarkable people and culture.
That’s why we were so ecstatic to be officially certified as a Great Place to Work for 2022 – an accolade reserved for those companies that truly put employee experience and satisfaction at the heart of what they do.
Building an inclusive culture has been part of REPL’s ethos since day one; and we don’t just talk about it – we take action to make sure every single one of our team members feels safe, empowered and engaged.
In fact, our latest staff survey shows that 95% of team members at REPL felt welcome when they first joined, 88% felt good about how we contribute to the community and 85% feel they can be themselves at work.
We aren’t perfect, but who is? At REPL, we’re constantly working to improve because we know just how critical culture and employee engagement is and we believe Accenture’s acquisition of REPL in March 2021 opens up a new wealth of opportunities for us to learn and evolve together. We believe that this partnership will enable our team members to continue to say that REPL is a great place to work.
To understand more about how REPL became a Great Place to Work we sat down with members of our team, from across the business, to uncover why and how REPL put people and culture at its core.
Interviewees included Victoria Place, Global Consulting Lead; Bal Kaur Lola, our Director of Business Transformation and Graeme Hamlet, Angie Neutt, Chuks Diali, Matt Bennett and Kaia Alleyne-Nodwella who represent our fantastic network and community teams who drive employee led, organisation wide, agendas in Sustainability, CSR, Ethnic Diversity and Active Inclusion, Pride and Women In Technology (to name a few).
Tell me, what is it that makes employee satisfaction so critical to the success of REPL as a business?
Victoria: Growing and keeping a team of motivated employees is the linchpin of REPL’s success. Without the huge variety of incredibly talented people, achieving the extraordinary every day, we simply wouldn’t have a successful business. Our people pull together as a team to solve our clients’ trickiest problems and continually challenge us to grow the company in the best possible way. It’s their motivation, passion, peer support and loyalty that has fuelled our year-on-year growth.
Graeme: Simply put, our people are the face of the company. And if we want to grow and continue delivering remarkable results, we need to have fantastic relationships with each other, as well as all of our external stakeholders. At the end of the day, if our people are not engaged or satisfied in their role, then that will come across in their demeanour. Without satisfied employees, we wouldn’t have a business.
Angie: If you enjoy what you’re doing, then going the extra mile is not an effort. A happy employee is critical because you’re more productive. You work with a lot of clients and if you’re happy in what you do, it’ll show in your work.
Productivity is a great tangible result, it’s true. What are some of the other practical ways that you think employee satisfaction helps contribute to the success of the business?
Bal: When solving a customer challenge, we encourage all our team members to be nimble and authentic in their approach. We seldom implement prescriptive REPL systems thus we ask all of our team members to put the customer at the heart of solutioning; we provide spaces for them to ideate, be creative, and give our people the autonomy to collaborate with the customer to define and deliver successful outcomes – that degree of passion, personalisation, accountability and the resulting customer satisfaction/trust is only possible because of our engaged team members.
Kaia: When I joined around a year ago I was definitely impressed, and a little shocked actually, by how proactive REPL is in maintaining and working on its culture. Rather than just saying it’s this people-centric place and then nothing really ever happens, they really focus on that part of the business and it translates into how we work with our clients.
Those ideas of culture and employee satisfaction are so interlinked aren’t they. For how long has REPL been focused on improving its culture and why?
Graeme: The importance of culture was embedded since day one. It was understood that our people, our culture and our relationships would be our differentiating factors within the consulting space. That’s as true today as it was then.
Bal: We recognise that people just want to work for humans (flaws and all). We try to empower people to bring their best authentic selves to work, and by doing the same ourselves, we’ve tried to cultivate a culture, and environment, that’s honest and unique. We’re not all the same person, but we do have shared goals and values and to create an authentic, safe, workplace is a goal shared by many.
So tell us more about what is it that makes REPL’s culture unique in the sector?
Victoria: There isn’t an expectation on our people to be someone they’re not to fit in. We are a community of retail, technical and delivery experts who are amazing at what we do because we’re not afraid to bring our authentic selves to work. When people don’t have to worry about pretending to be someone else, they have so much more energy to pour into becoming their best self.
Bal: Alongside the autonomy I mentioned earlier, we’re a non-hierarchical organisation – that doesn’t mean that hierarchy doesn’t exist, it means that we don’t let it become a barrier to our growth. It doesn’t matter who you are in this business, your voice matters, and you can speak to anyone in the organisation, regardless of your, or their, career level. We encourage everyone to collaborate on people and business development, providing tangible opportunities for people to impact and influence change.
Kaia: Joining as a grad that was definitely my experience. There are so few barriers between me as a grad and then other colleagues at different levels. Grads are supported but I feel like they’re also listened to, and their opinions are respected and they’re trusted with responsibility.
A great example of employees being engaged in this way are the active network groups and communities that are in place across REPL, all of which were created and run by passionate employees. There’s the Wellbeing Group, Ethnic Diversity and Active Inclusion (EDAI), Women in Tech, CSR Network, Pride Network and many more active communities.
What makes these groups such a significant contributor to a great workplace culture?
Graeme: As you say, all these groups are set up, envisaged, and led by passionate, and knowledgeable people within REPL, and therefore, you will naturally drive higher engagement with those communities than you would if the management team had come along and said, ‘Please, somebody set this up, we need to go and do this.’
Chuks: Take EDAI as an example. Following the deeply saddening George Floyd incident, a number of us became passionate about wanting to change the status quo. Personally, I didn’t usually talk about issues pertaining to race or gender, I didn’t tend to bring it to work. But I have three boys and I thought at the moment, what does the world for them look like? So I went out and shared a post as part of the ‘I Am’ movement on LinkedIn. Because of that our CEO contacted me, and said ‘we want to help more.’ It wasn’t a case of George Floyd just happened, let’s do something. It was an organic activity that enabled another activity which started us on our journey. And that’s pretty powerful in terms of being able to use your voice outside of work, bring something into work, and then impacting multiple colleagues at the same time.
Matt: With the formation of the PRIDE network it was waking up to a realisation that, aside from some very close colleagues, I had absolutely no idea if there was anybody else in REPL like me. I had a particular experience on my very first day at REPL, walking into the head office and someone had put a rainbow flag on their desk. That for me was fantastic. It made me feel this is a place where I don’t need to worry, because there’s at least one other person that is either like me, or is supportive of my community. That helped to establish that sense of belonging from the start. So that’s what I wanted to do with the PRIDE network, help to establish that sense of belonging for everybody that joined, no matter if they happen to pop up to the upstairs desk in Henley, or whether they were joining remotely or in another country.
Angie: It was the same for me. People and community is my passion, and so with the CSR group, which I joined during COVID, I knew I’d joined a company that had people with the same drive, passion, and desire to be able to help that I did.
And, as well as establishing this great sense of belonging, what kinds of activities do you engage in via these groups within REPL?
Angie: The groups run a huge range of activities for the entire company, not just their members. These range from marking International Women’s Day or Black History Month with renowned speakers sharing their stories, or online personal training sessions and mindful moments during Wellbeing Week. We’ve also held tree planting days and give back to our communities through charitable giving and mentoring. Engagement from the wider team is always fantastic – we got so many submissions in for the Lip Sync Challenge. A personal highlight was our Diwali celebration where we learnt some Bhangra dance moves!
Chuks: Well, if you look at the REPL email signature, it says ‘Discrimination has no home here’ – that was influenced by the EDAI group. We wanted to celebrate more events internally too, So last year, circa 60% of the events that were recognised and celebrated via our social channels and intranet were of an ethnic diversity connotation. That’s massive in terms of influencing culture. Externally too, we’ve gone to schools to talk about careers in consulting, and recently signed up to work with individuals from tough backgrounds, to be able to mentor them over a period of nine months, to see how we can then help them in the workplace. It just shows how communities of interest and network groups can bring a spotlight on the temperature within the wider community and begin to influence things. The network groups are like the conscience of the business in that way.
So going forward, how does REPL hope to elevate these employee voices even further?
Bal: As you grow it gets harder to hear all the voices of the team, so we’re in the process of formalising a community, called the Voice of REPL, made up of individuals who’ll be tasked with cultivating views and opinions from their colleagues. These representatives volunteered or were nominated, and each wrote a short personal statement about what being part of this new community means to them. We’ve just closed organisation wide voting for all 42 nominees, and are in the midst of selecting finalists who proportionality represent the makeup of our business from across all geographies, communities, departments and levels of the team.
We want to grow our position as a Great Place to Work, and considering our people in business change is essential to us achieving that, thus we’re also initiating a People Forum; this Forum will bring our Voice of REPL Representatives together with our Network, Community (e.g. Graduate) and Practice/Department leads to discuss and agree Company People Change initiatives – our people will play a pivotal role in ensuring we have a balanced view, and positively impact the employee experience at REPL as we continue to grow and diversify.
Angie: it’s also exciting to explore how much we can achieve in together with the employee groups within Accenture. With Accenture’s explicit focus on Inclusion and Diversity, it’s clear our values align and as our groups collaborate and learn from each other, we can have an even bigger impact on our communities and continue to shape this excellent culture.
Graeme: one immediate example of this is already evident in the sustainability space. Through Accenture’s supplier inclusion and sustainability program, we can further drive sustainability and inclusion into our ways of working, across all 5 capitals.
Culture is clearly an area that REPL has been focused on since its inception. What lessons do you think other companies in the sector might be able to take from REPL’s long experience with this?
Bal: For any organisation that wants to get a Great Place to Work accolade, regardless of industry, try focusing less on what you do, and channel your energy into how you do it.
At REPL we really try to focus on the employee perspective; how will the message land? How do we empower people to get involved? How do our people want to experience that initiative? How do we execute that idea and ensure we build for the better? The ‘what’ is almost less of a factor, so shift your focus to, how the decisions you’re making will impact your people and consider how you obtain their honest feedback?
That approach alone organically makes you a better place to work because it means that you’re open to interpretation and establishing what does, and doesn’t, work for your people.
Nobody ever gets it right all the time so it’s important to create open, safe spaces for discussion and room for failures – great leadership teams don’t think they always know best, they acknowledge that they don’t and cultivate an environment that allows them to pivot and evolve.