Accenture’s secret to great onboarding

Feb 6, 2019 | Development

Great onboarding teaches not only new knowledge and skills, but also new behaviours needed to be successful. Milan Vrucinic and Antonia Cobb of Accenture share what it takes to create an exceptional employee experience. 

Today’s graduates enter the workforce well versed in market relevant, digital skills and are looking for challenging, meaningful work aligned with their personal values. Accenture’s Gen Z research finds 88% of today’s graduates look for formal training from a first employer: professional development that they can take away for their future career, wherever that may be.

Employees increasingly expect the same convenient, consumer driven experiences they encounter outside of work. Many business leaders already recognise this, the Accenture employee experience research showed 51% plan to create individualised employee experiences in the next two years.

Exceptional Employee Experience (EX) is about more than giving employees unlimited choices or promoting onsite climbing walls and artisan coffee. It’s about providing employees with a set of focused options that not only drive engagement but also help them achieve their full potential and therefore drive business value.

Work itself is changing with digital automation of many basic tasks making entry level roles more and more demanding. This aligns with what graduates want, but makes their learning curve steeper than ever.

This isn’t just something we tell our clients. Accenture achieved 5% productivity uplift with just one EX-driven behavioural initiative. It was designed, built and launched for our UK consulting graduate joiners in a six-week sprint. This was measured in terms of time spent on client work and delivered via our approach to EX, which takes three fundamental insights from the consumer world:


Identify pockets of value

Start with the business outcomes you want to achieve. As a talent-led business, our people are everything and time-to productivity is a significant value lever. In the UK, 300-500 consulting graduates join us every year. They are smart and ambitious, but Accenture is a complex organisation with lots of moving parts to become familiar with. Employee Experience is more than simply being engaged, it’s about driving productivity for competitive advantage.


Moments matter: just maybe not the ones you think

Don’t make assumptions about the types of experiences your workforce wants. Analytics, ethnography and social listening uncover the professional and personal moments that matter for different groups. Armed with this understanding, you can design hyper personalised experiences more likely to impact productivity goals. We identified six different personas within our UK consulting graduate group alone, including how to hit the ground running on a first client project as well as how to hold difficult conversations they had not experienced before. Building knowledge and confidence in these areas became a priority to address.


Co-create to design the experience

Engage with employees to co-create the most relevant and valuable experiences. User-centred design workshops allowed us to craft personalised experiences targeting the moments that matter in ways that resonated most with our own people. This resulted in the following initiatives:

  • A Digital Onboarding challenge with daily micro-actions to practice new behaviours over the first 30 days — including learning to learn for yourself and learning to look after yourself (Case study “Accenture UK New Hire Onboarding” available on
  • Bespoke Learning Boards for user-generated content for 27 common graduate roles — which went viral and got over 12,000 hits in the first year.
  • Digital Coaching to provide a safe space to practice and reflect on difficult conversations, generating better conversations and outcomes in the real world, based on ‘moments that matter’ for our six graduate personas.

Immersing the graduates themselves in these design sprints and co-creating made the outputs relevant to their real challenges experienced day-to-day. #ByGraduatesForGraduates was an important guiding principle.


What does this mean for our business?

Digital technology provides real-time analytics which helps us to continually iterate, learn, and improve. Our award-winning onboarding challenge unlocked a material increase in productivity and dramatically increased organisational networking, with 1,100 plus new connections made by each cohort on our social collaboration platform.

A good EX attracts talent and boosts workforce engagement and retention. A stellar EX can directly improve productivity and business performance, with new people hitting the ground running, feeling welcomed, valued and prepared with the right combination of skills, knowledge and behaviours.

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