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AECOM offers colleagues Freedom To Grow

AECOM offers colleagues Freedom To Grow

 March 13, 2019

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The way people work is changing, with the traditional 9-5 lifestyle starting to transform as the most innovative companies realise that different individuals thrive in different ways.

AECOM is one business which has taken the plunge and is embarking on a culture change journey designed to bring out the best in its employees.

The Freedom To Grow way of working is, in a nut-shell, about helping employees to have the freedom needed to find the working style that suits them, so that they achieve their full potential and bring the best version of themselves to work.

The guiding principle that the AECOM team in both the UK & Ireland and Continental Europe now live by is: if it works for you, your team and your client then it works for AECOM.

This could mean leaving the office early to train for a marathon before it gets dark.

Or, for those that perform best later in the day – starting work at 10.30am and finishing in the evening.

AEOM offers workers Freedom To Grow

Another element of Freedom To Grow is the opportunity to undertake different working patterns each week. Whether someone has worked long days to deliver a deadline, or chooses to compress their total contracted hours into a shorter number of days, it can often mean working more one week and gaining time back the next.

It’s not just about working flexible hours though, Freedom To Grow encompasses some of the smaller things – like being able to plug in headphones and listen to music if it helps stimulate creativity.

It’s also about feeling free to ask lots of questions during team meetings if it helps with progression – without feeling like a nuisance or appearing critical.

Freedom To Grow embraces AECOM’s multi-generational workplace, as well as the importance of diversity and inclusion to AECOM. It is a new way of working, recognising all the different commitments, and will hopefully help to breakdown stereotypes and assumptions which could limit progression.

What’s really exciting is that team members gain more control over where, when and how they work. Freedom To Grow is the freedom to be your ‘true self’ at work and allows a conversation to be opened up between employees and managers.

Why Freedom To Grow?

Iain MacFadyn AECOM

Iain MacFadyen, UK&I Managing Director, People & Culture at AECOM, says that when you look at staff surveys from very successful companies, flexibility for staff always features highly.

He adds: “In addition, the workplace is changing rapidly and as a business we need to adapt to the times by recognising that each individual is unique and that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to the work environment, how we deliver projects for our clients, and how we interact with each other.”

For Iain, one of the reasons that Freedom To Grow is important to AECOM is that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses in terms of communication and workstyles.

He explains: “We also have different personal values and we think and interact differently. By recognising this we allow each individual to bring their best self to work each and every day. As a business we want our people to flourish and reach their full potential.”

So, how has Iain used Freedom To Grow?

“Being part of a global company I often work with teams across different time zones and therefore work where and when I need to work to meet the needs of the team,” he explains. “I know my own personal strengths and weaknesses and I now work in such a way that allows me to maximise my contribution. I also actively engage others in discussions that think differently to me to ensure that we can bring diversity of thought to the table. This has yielded more informed decision making and better end results.

“Most importantly, as a leader I have used Freedom To Grow to reinforce to our teams that we trust and empower them to work in a way that works for them and ultimately for the business.”

There are no set rules or procedures around Freedom To Grow. “We trust our staff to do the right thing,” says Iain. “I genuinely believe we are at the forefront of our industry by implementing Freedom To Grow and that this is a key enabler in delivering our culture vision of the future.”

Marc Barone, Chief Executive, Continental Europe, adds: “Our success in Continental Europe is dependent on collaborating across many cultures and our people being able to bring their best to work every day. Freedom To Grow is one key aspect that enables all of us to excel, providing flexibility and giving everyone the trust to work in the most effective way. Proactive communication, clear objectives coordinated with Freedom To Grow will help us create a culture that engages and energises our people to ensure our combined success.”

Bring your best self to work

Dan Vukcevic, AECOM

What does it mean to bring the best version of you to the workplace and why is it important?

Dani Vukcevic, Senior Human Resources Manager, explains: “The fight for talent is real, it’s out there. Now more than ever we need to ensure that the employees that we’re looking to bring into the business have a reason to want to be here, have an opportunity to be innovative and have an opportunity to challenge the status quo. Freedom To Grow allows our employees to be innovative, it allows them to challenge the status quo and offers them the ability to bring their best selves to work.”

When asked whether there is an underlining principle to Freedom To Grow, Dani says: "In its simplest form Freedom To Grow starts with a conversation with you and your manager. And this conversation may be about particular processes that you are using that you think you may be able to change, it may be about looking at an innovative solution to safety, it may be looking at the working environment for yourself or the working environment for your team. And regardless of the change or solution you want to produce, the principle to the conversation is: Does it work for you? Does it work for the client? Does it work for the teams? And if we say Yes to all these three questions, then it works for us.”

AECOM Freedom To Grow Workshops

Ingeborg Hoogveld, Regional Talent Manager Continental Europe, has been busy implementing the culture change by, together with country business leaders, delivering interactive workshops to staff across the region.

She adds: “At AECOM we particularly value collaborating with so many diverse teams and cultures. It is great to notice people’s engagement to learn more and talk about our new, inspiring, flexible and inclusive work culture. During our workshops in Continental Europe we help understand how employees and teams can make Freedom To Grow happen in practice. People really like that, at AECOM, they have the freedom to start conversations about how to grow and develop, and that they are encouraged to play to their strengths, express views and approach tasks differently while being their unique selves.”

Ingeborg explains that during the workshops, the teams focus more on ‘’being yourself’’ as well as ‘’accepting and embracing differences’’. Inclusion is a big focus as in most cases the team already work flexibly. The key essence of Freedom To Grow is when you work, how you work and where you work.

Freedom To Grow works for women across AECOM

Karen Britton of AECOM

So, how is the theory working in practice?

Karen Britton, Technical Director, Aviation, has offered insight into how Freedom To Grow is helping her to deliver on a major project.

“I’m regularly astonished by how teams manage to deliver very technically challenging aspects of the project, in very difficult time scales, in a way that I wouldn’t have foreseen,” she explains.

“Our team don’t all think in the same way; we challenge each other and we allow each other space for different ways of approaching the same problem. Not just delivering in what we are doing but in how we are doing it is really important for our team.”

Mariana Goyarzu, Sustainability Consultant, says: “Freedom To Grow opens an opportunity for networking and collaboration between end markets, cities and even countries. Living away from my home country Mexico is hard sometimes. But Freedom To Grow allows me the option to extend my time when I’m visiting my family by working from the AECOM Mexico office.”

Jo Atkinson, HR Director Continental Europe, adds: “Our people are the core of our business. The opportunity for our diverse employee population to work flexibly and grow are important keys to employee engagement which drives business success. We believe that the Freedom To Grow agenda contributes to AECOM being experienced and acknowledged as a ‘Great Place To Work’, ‘World’s Most Admired Companies’, ‘Prime Employer for Women’ and ‘Best Employers for Diversity’.”

A better work life balance

Flexible working with AECOM

It is undeniable that the way work can be delivered is constantly changing; and AECOM is embracing this movement. The aim moving forward is that Freedom To Grow will continue to bring out the best in people by celebrating them as individuals.

David Barwell, AECOM UK & Ireland Chief Executive, proudly concludes: “When our people grow, our business grows too, so helping our employees to thrive and flourish is a top priority for us. When we get to do more of what we’re naturally good at and enjoy it’s like paddling a canoe alongside the current – not against it. That’s why we’re investing in Freedom to Grow, empowering people to play to their strengths and be the best they can be, and in return we ask for their passion, drive and ambition to help shape the world around us.”

A long term shift

Freedom To Grow is underpinned by trust and is part of AECOM’s long term shift to improve its culture.

Start your own journey of growth with AECOM

If you want to work for a business that places its trust in your knowledge of what gets the best out of you, then there is no better time to consider AECOM. Search and apply today.


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