"When the pandemic hit Southeast Asia in 2020, wellness remained our top priority. We realised that we had to better engage our people in a virtual world and help them navigate their new working environment," Nur Fareisha, SEA I&D HR Lead, Accenture said.

At the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Singapore, Accenture received the gold award for Best Employee Wellness Strategy.

In this interview, Nur Fareisha, SEA I&D HR Lead, Accenture shares the secrets behind this win - and how the organisation implements various wellness strategies to help its people to live better in and outside of work, to boost their mental wellbeing, and more.

Q Congratulations on bagging this award! What is your award-winning employee experience strategy that led to this win?

Thank you, what an honour! Actually, we focused on a wellness strategy where we empower and transform how our people live, learn, and lead their everyday lives. This is what we call Accenture’s 'Truly Human' experience.

  • Live as your authentic self with energy, focus, belonging and purpose by looking after your whole self (body, mind, heart, and soul).
    • Body – Physically energised, powered by quality sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
    • Mind – Mentally focused, stimulated, and productive.
    • Heart – Sense of belonging and strong connections with colleagues and family
    • Soul – Sense of purpose, passion, and intent.
  • Learn all the time, from one another by being curious, asking questions and seeking diverse perspectives from others.
  • Lead by example and inspire teams, clients, and communities with how you are working and living differently.

Q How did you and your team conceptualise and adapt this strategy to suit evolving workforce needs in the past year?

The past year has been a curveball! When the pandemic hit Southeast Asia in 2020, wellness remained our top priority. We realised that we had to better engage our people in a virtual world and help them navigate their new working environment.

As such, we focused on COVID-19 response and helped our employees stay connected and engaged amidst the remote working arrangement, and adapting our existing wellness strategy to suit the virtual working environment.

Q What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?

Our key challenge centered around mental wellness.

While the majority of people feel content with the wellbeing coverage provided to them, they were experiencing high stress levels at work and were not able to balance their work and life responsibilities.

We discovered that 60% of our people felt that mental wellness resonated most with them especially around:

  • Existing stigma around mental wellness issues, and
  • Lack of awareness and education around mental wellness issues.

With that, we launched several programmes to overcome the above challenges:

  • 'Truly Human' experience and 'Truly Human' project toolkit that consists of 53 different ways that our people can Live, Learn and Lead every day in their projects across Southeast Asia;
  • Mental wellness network and Mental health ally training across Southeast Asia with the aim of developing a culture where it is safe and encouraged for people to talk about their mental wellbeing, and
  • Enhanced wellbeing benefits where employees and their immediate family members can access a range of 24/7 confidential counselling services at no cost.

Q How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in your organisation, in terms of ROI? Any achievements you’d like to show off?

To better track our progress, we conducted two surveys in 2020 and 2021 respectively. We compared the themes across the two years to understand the efficacy of our initiatives. I believe we scored in three key areas:

  • Providing a safe environment for open and honest conversations: We had a significant jump of 104% from year 2020 to 2021 where respondents agreed that Accenture provides a safe environment for them to discuss their mental health conditions This highlights the improvement in efforts made to create a psychologically safe workplace environment where employees can thrive.
  • Increase in awareness and involvement: In our 2021 survey, 81.3% indicated an improvement in Accenture’s efforts to raise awareness, educate and provide support on the topic of mental health at work.
  • Leadership sponsorship: We now have 70 managing directors as mental health allies and are continuously looking to increase the figures.

Q What is the most exciting and valuable thing about being part of (and winning at!) the debut Employee Experience Awards?

Winning this gives the team a sense of belonging to Accenture and be recognised for our ongoing efforts for our people. 

Q Looking ahead, what else do you have planned as you continue to enhance the overall employee experience?

As part of creating a sense of belonging for all to thrive, we are exploring how we can scale and continuously address the needs of our people. We have identified the following areas of consideration and we are planning to integrate these with our existing strategy:

  • Ensuring that we set and boundaries and create safe spaces in a virtual world
  • Enabling human connectedness and collaboration both an online and offline world
  • Helping employees build resilience so that they can adapt and thrive in the ever-changing environment
  • Providing the right kind of support to our most vulnerable employees, such as parents with young families so that their needs are fully met

We are conscious that the needs of our people are constantly changing according to the rapidly changing environment. As such, with greater business involvement we plan to continue empowering our people to be engaged, feel valued, and be heard.

Q Do share some tips to inspire your peers who are working on their EX strategies and would love to participate in the awards next year.

Two tips. First, connect, connect, connect.

Integrate with one another by leveraging experiences and actively listening, and using data to understand the needs and challenges of our people and in turn creating targeted interventions based on that.

Second, always work in an agile manner by consistently scaling and adapting your programmes according to the changing needs of our people.

Q Lastly, to end on a fun note – if you could describe the employee experience at your organisation in one sentence, what would that be?

For the people, by the people!


Image / Provided

Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!