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RPS strives to ‘make complex easy’

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RPS is a global professional services firm specialising in the natural and built environment, spanning 125 countries.The company employs a broad range of people from consultants to academics, scientists, architects and engineers, and everything in between. Until 2018 HR was decentralised, with no global agenda or People Director, and several different manual systems and processes in place.

Make complex easy

RPS needed a performance framework that would be fit for the whole business. In 2017 less than 50 per cent of RPS employees were having any kind of performance conversation, so the move to a global cloud-based framework that was easily accessible and readily adopted by an international and professionally diverse team was essential. The HR team at RPS started slowly by introducing a manual paper-based framework designed to start conversations around performance and to get the team used to performance-based discussions. Cornerstone OnDemand was able to provide a cloud-based solution when the time came to transition. The Performance solution was readily adopted by RPS employees. Since then, the company has introduced Recruiting, Learning (including Content creation) and Mobile to its platform.

More Meaningful Conversations more often

Given RPS had never had a performance framework, the HR team started slowly. They recognised that performance in its simplest form is about having a discussion. Rather than jump straight into a cloud-based solution, RPS developed a framework called Progress@RPS and launched a manual paper-based methods to get the team used to the idea before transitioning to digital. Before implementing Cornerstone’s Performance tool, less than 50 per cent of employees were involved in performance-based conversations, which has a knock-on effect for attrition. Many people leaving the company were doing so because of a lack of career direction. Because of a decentralised HR function, there was a variety of performance approaches across the business. With a new CEO and Group People director on board, RPS prioritised performance for the organisation. A consistent global approach was required.

Building Trust

With only 50 per cent of the people familiar with traditional performance management, it was important for RPS to get the remaining group on board and buy into Continuous Performance Management CPM as something reliable, routine and beneficial. Developing objectives for 5,000 employees is no mean feat. In the first year, it was mainly senior leaders defining objectives, moving onto 4,000 people by the following year - all without a digital platform. Tracey Newton says: “We wanted to embed initially, without people feeling it was a HR change being enforced on them. We wanted them to understand it was a positive business imperative.” The next step was to train line managers to understand their role in supporting their teams.

Why Cornerstone

In 2020 RPS started implementing Cornerstone’s Performance, Learn and Recruit platforms against a pandemic backdrop and across multiple time zones. The new Cornerstone Platform was dubbed Progress on Demand (or POD for short), allowing teams worldwide to connect with each other. The platform gave employees certainty during an unsettling global time. Teams were able to connect online with their managers and update their information to meet remote working challenges. They could still undertake learning when face-to-face teaching was off the menu. From a 50 per cent engagement rate back in 2017, RPS achieved a remarkable 98 per cent year-end review completion rate in 2020.

Documenting the results

In 2021 RPS undertook its second global engagement survey, called "Your Voice" and recorded an impressive 85 per cent response rate. The survey recorded an 8 per cent increase in line manager effectiveness. There was a 12 per cent improvement for the statement, My line manager provides clear direction and objectives for me and my team.

There was also an 8 per cent improvement on the metric My Line Manager engages to give me performance feedback to help me improve. “Those are the two I'm most excited about and which I can directly link back to both initiatives," Newton says. RPS has valued the ease with which it can add other functionality to the Cornerstone platform and has recently added mobile learning which is due to be rolled out in May 2022. "The mobile app is a handy addition because we've got a lot of people working out in the field, and it will keep them feeling connected and able to learn on the go. From a functionality perspective, it's pretty easy to implement," adds Newton. RPS has licences for the Cornerstone learning content catalogues of professional skills, modern compliance and leadership and management, but also uses the Create tool for building internal content due to the highly specialised nature of some of the company's roles.

Where to next?

After launching Performance, Recruiting and Learning along with the current roll-out of the mobile learning functionality, RPS is keen to allow a period of settling in before adding additional Cornerstone functionality, but the HR team already has bold ideas to give employees even more control over their career progression. "I love the idea of a Choose Your Own Adventure, performance experience. And that's where I'd like to take things, but to be honest, we're at least a year or two away to get to that stage because we need to continue to embed what we've put in," Tracey Newton says.

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