How Octopus Group help their employees achieve their goals in work and in life

Elissa Dennis
6th October 2020
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Finding the right approach to performance management is not an easy or simple process. It takes time to find what suits both the needs of the organisation and employees. It’s important to try alternatives, experiment with different options, and most importantly, include employees in these deliberations. No solution will be successful if they don’t fully understand and embrace it.

Kavita Shergill, Head of Talent at Octopus Group has been on that journey. Since arriving at the marketing agency around nine years ago, she has tried four different performance reviews processes before finding a successful solution with Appraisd. “People are our product”, says Kavita. “They are our biggest asset. Without them we don’t have a business. That’s why we make it a priority to spend significant time, money and resources on creating an environment the provides the best possible support and opportunities to develop.”

Operating in a fiercely competitive and creative sector, it’s important for Octopus Group to keep one step ahead of it’s rivals, offering highly desirable employment packages and building a reputation for going above and beyond what is required to nurture their workforce. “If we want to attract and keep the best talent, it’s vital we understand what people are looking for in an employer and create a brand they identify with and want to work for.”

Knowing your employees

Getting employee support and development right depends on understanding your workforce and what motivates them. “Over half of our employees are under the age of 30”, says Kavita. “They are very ambitious, want to get on quickly and be able to see a clear career path mapped out ahead of them. Reward and recognition are very important to them. They want to know how they are doing and what they can do to develop further. We want our employees to be totally comfortable with being themselves and be open about their hopes and dreams.”

Setting goals beyond the workplace

One thing that Octopus Group have recently added to their reviews process is life goals. This involves setting short and long term goals around things that employees want to achieve outside of work, such as passing their driving test or getting on the property ladder.

“We started to encourage employees to set their life goals at the beginning of the year. These are completely optional as we know they are not for everyone, but more than half of our workforce have already set them. As an organisation, with our network of contacts and resources, if we know what is important to our employees, we can offer them advice and support on obtaining these objectives and we’ve already helped some employees to reach their goals. Knowing what matters to our staff outside of work gives us a much better understanding of them and what motivates them. It also clearly demonstrates that we are interested in our employees as people, as individuals with desires and feelings that are to be acknowledged, not hidden.”

Creating a supportive, inclusive culture

Effective performance management should complement and enhance a company’s culture. “The three things that matter most to our employees about our organisation is that it will provide challenging work in a fun place to be, it will facilitate rapid career development, it will support their health and wellbeing. Facilitating and supporting a diverse and inclusive culture is close to the hearts of all employees so, as part of the regular check-ins between line managers and their direct reports, they cover these topics, as well as their day to day work, ensures employees have a platform to share their views and raise any concerns. They are also encouraged to show their appreciation for colleagues who have performed exceptionally and deserve recognition. At least seven or eight minutes of our monthly team meetings are devoted to appreciating others for their contribution. We want our employees to know they are valued, and the role of our reviews and feedback process is to totally reinforce this.”