HRD 5-Star Employers of Choice 2024: Accolade Wines

Accolade Wines has been recognised as one of the 5-Star Employers of Choice

Accolade Wines was named as one of the winners of the HRD 5-Star Employers of Choice 2024.

Anjanette Murfet, chief people and communications officer at Accolade Wines, sat down with HRDTV to discuss the variety of initiatives the company has to support employees including workplace flexibility, ‘Fast Fridays’ – where employees get to leave the office at 3pm, and an enhanced parental leave policy.

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Kylie Speer 00:00:08 Hello and Welcome to HRD TV. I'm Kylie Speer and joining me today is Anjanette Murfet, Chief People and Communications Officer at Accolade Wines. Accolade Wines has been named as one of the winners of the HRD 5-Star Employers of Choice 2024. Welcome to you Anjanette, congratulations, and thank you for joining us today. 

Anjanette Murfet 00:00:30 Thank you, Kylie. It's really lovely to be speaking with you today and very excited to have won the award this year.  

Kylie Speer 00:00:38 Well, firstly  Anjanette as a  5-Star Employer of Choice 2024 winner, you are geared to ensuring employees realize their potential and deliver results. How challenging is it to continually maintain this aspirational mindset? 

Anjanette Murfet 00:00:53 So for us, it's really about a partnership with our people, creating a two way dialogue. And I think what we will hopefully demonstrate through this conversation, but everything we do to create that culture is is sort of based on the mindset of a continuous improvement program. So we launched an initiative, we embed, we seek feedback from our people, we were fine, we adjust and we start, we start the next iteration of that. So it's really about a two way dialogue, being transparent. And really, I suppose risking certain initiatives and policies, seeing how they land and then going from there. So that's sort of how we do it an Accolade Wines.  

Kylie Speer 00:01:33 Accolade Wines offers a dynamic working policy allowing your over 1000 employees to enjoy hybrid working, how have you navigated keeping colleagues energized and remaining as a collective, and do staff have a choice of when to come in? 

Anjanette Murfet 00:01:48 So what we found is that coming out of COVID, our employees really benefit from that balance of being able to work in the office and collaborate with employees, and then have that time at home. Sometimes you can use that time when you're working remote to create the space for that more sort of strategic thinking. And when your office you can collaborate, have your team meetings, and really connect with your colleagues. So so that's kind of the philosophy that we work on. So when we do require people to come in the office, we try and hold some sort of team event be that wine tasting about what amazing products, we might have a winemaker in the Texas through, you know, a particular region, we might focus on pinos, one particular week, or this pizzas for lunch, or just generally getting everyone together to connect. And then when we're at home, we try to limit I suppose that need to really rely on technology and have some more thinking time and get the work done. Our employees can absolutely choose the days that they come in, it's a two days in the office three from home, there's no set days. And really, it's up to the manager and the team and the individual to determine what works for them. Some teams come in, so they're all in on one particular day, some things just do what they like to do that works for them. And then then it just so it is really flexible. One of the additional things that we have done, and I'm not sure we might talk about it later, is that we've introduced this concept called Fast Fridays. So Fast Fridays is actually our employees get to leave the office at three o'clock on a Friday. Now, again, this is a great example of that kind of continuous improvement iteration of benefits that we provide an accolade wines. So during the lockdowns people were sort of, you know, confined to their houses a lot of screen time. And we wanted to give them a way to disconnect. So what we did is during the summer months, both in the southern and then in the non Northern Hemisphere, we just said, Okay, three o'clock on a Friday, everyone down tools had an early weekend. Now, people just love our First Fridays or our summer hours. And it was a bit of a no brainer for us to extend that through the whole year. So as of last year, we now have class riders where everyone finishes at three o'clock on a Friday afternoon to enjoy that long weekend. So that's some of the way that we manage our dynamic work policy. 

Kylie Speer 00:04:04 You also offer enhanced parental leave, what was the motivation to introduce this? And has it been adopted by both mothers and fathers alike?  

Anjanette Murfet 00:04:13 So the enhanced parental leave is something new for us. We only launched it last year, we felt that it was something that we wanted to do because both both parents should be or whoever is taking on the parental role, regardless of what your choice is, in terms of of that is really, really important. So we wanted to sort of recognize both partners in that. Absolutely. It's being taken up. I have two people in my team already who are accessing or two men who are accessing the new parental leave later this year. I don't know what it is. There's something in the water in my team. I've got three pregnant people at the moment. So it's quite an exciting time in the people and comms team. Again for us. I think it's a couple of things. Yeah, it's the right thing to do you Yeah, our people are really important to us. And we want to make sure that they realize that their choices outside of work are we support evolves, and we want to help with the balance where we can. So that's really important to that to us. So that dynamic work, First Fridays, additional labor, all the things we try and do to help support, you know, our people. And when you think about it, people spend more time at work than they actually do with their partners or at home. So what can we do to really help them strike that balance if we can. 

Kylie Speer 00:05:31 It can be challenging for organizations to keep setting fresh DEI goals as progress is made. How has Accolade Wines maintained momentum in this area? 

Anjanette Murfet 00:05:42 I suppose in this area, maybe we're a little unique. But for us, it's the most important thing is actually fostering a culture where people feel safe. And how we articulate that is actually at accolade ones you feel comfortable to come to work and be your authentic self. So for us, that's really the main thing. And so, really lovely, we've just closed our engagement survey, the latest one, and we've come out and with a score of 72%, in terms of diversity inclusion, which is, is really pleasing. But we've done a lot of work in terms of leadership development, line manager development, where we really educate our leaders around how do you have those conversations with people not just about work, but around all the other things that go on within to create that safe space? Over and above that, of course, we support the initiatives around international women's day around, you know, Equality Day in the UK. So there's a various number of initiatives that we support. But for us, and for me, fundamentally, it's really around what is that based culture, and do people feel really comfortable being themselves at work, and then you just build on that, and that psychological safety is so so important. We're just about to launch something called dynamic leadership program. And what that is, is it's for all of our leaders in the business. And that's going to help them navigate those more tricky issues that are coming into the workplace. I think we've all dealt with people who may be struggling with their mental health undergoing IVF treatment, women going through menopause, someone who might be going through a change in their gender. So all of these things now are coming into the workforce for us. And we're not necessarily built to to deal with them, or how do you deal with them. So we want to provide our leaders with some training that helps them use the suite of policies that we have continued to support the individual and maintain that performance as well. So that's the things we're doing in that DE&I space. 

Kylie Speer 00:07:41 You're also working towards a zero gender pay gap. Currently, it's at a relatively low 0.9%. What steps will you take to close this gap? And do you have the timeline? 

Anjanette Murfet 00:07:54 Yes, and then that was a really pleasing result that we got. Last week, I was actually traveling in South Australia, my husband texted to me very early in the morning after I'd come back from a run. So I think he was more delighted than I was with with the result initially. So it was really lovely to wake up to that. I mean, that's been a piece of work that we've been focused on for a long period of time. I think, historically, I've been in the business six years that potentially we weren't where we needed to be from a gender pay equity perspective. And we've really made a focus choice in every merit review, and where we bring new talent into the business to one benchmark all of our roles and all of our talent externally, Tim, as a benchmarking, it's a priority for us that we always bring people in at the medium benchmark to market so they are paid to market. And then where we had those gaps to incrementally address that every single year and bringing those people up to where they need to be. 

Kylie Speer 00:08:51 Your leaders will be undergoing dynamic training to encourage a more human centered and flexible mindset. How do you envisage this impacting directly on day to day operations? 

Anjanette Murfet 00:09:03 I mean, I hope income conceptually, we haven't launched it, it's about to start. But conceptually, I hope that it actually makes both the leaders and the employees life a lot easier. I mean, I don't think anyone, I don't think any of you know, the shift to where we are from pre COVID to now has been rapid. And I don't think three years ago, you would have talked to anyone who said I'd be working from home three days a week or at all, so and that adjustment is hard. Yeah. And we're always in meetings where not all of our team are face to face, and how do you think about making those teams feel more inclusive because they're not face to face. And as I said, all of those other things that go on in life, that is just life we all have to deal with. So we're just hoping that it continues to build a really positive culture that people want to work for us and that we're helping our employees in the best way that we can.  

Kylie Speer 00:10:00 And finally  Anjanette, I understand you're launching a menopause guide, how important is this subject? And what internal strategy did you convey to managers, particularly mama managers? 

Anjanette Murfet 00:10:12 Oh, goodness, um, no, I was particularly lucky in this one. I mean, I think that the one of the outstanding things that accolade wines is that we have an amazing executive leadership team, who are very, very encouraging in terms of what is the right thing to do in response to meeting the needs of our people. And we do like to be I suppose at in advance of others, we do like to try and lead in a lot of these spaces. So I don't think there was much debate that this was something that we wanted to look at. I think it's something that's been wanting for a long period of time, we certainly we certainly talk to women and support women, hopefully, when they're having babies, and now men without parental leave. But we tend to forget on all genders. I think at that sort of more tail end of your career, what are people experiencing? Yes, and menopause is a particularly difficult issue for many women. And we just wanted to make sure that we were engaging in the right support and conversations with those people to help make sure that they wanted to continue to come to work with us. So and again, what can we do to support our employees over and above? You know, they spend a lot of time with us. So it is getting a lot of press at the moment, particularly in the UK. A little bit here. That you know, I think those issues are real and we need to make sure that we're we're on top of them. 

Kylie Speer 00:11:41 Well, congratulations on your well deserved accolade. And thank you so much once again for your time today Anjanette. It was so lovely speaking with you. 

Anjanette Murfet 00:11:51 Thank you so much, Kylie, and a big thanks to the team at Accolade Wines to make this possible. 

Kylie Speer 00:11:56 And thank you as always to our viewers for watching the latest episode of HRD TV. We look forward to seeing you again soon.