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Access has been awarded the IPA’s Gold Accreditation for Continuous Professional Development. 

Despite the challenges of a remote working agency team, Access ensured that ‘workplace’ learning remained at the heart of its business throughout the pandemic and has demonstrated how this has not only benefitted its team’s wellbeing, but also supported the success of the business.

In the past 12 months, Access has attracted more than five new clients into the business and continues to be the digital development partner for major brands including WaterAid, SC Johnson Professional and Edrington Distillers.

“Home Learning may no longer be the UK-wide social buzz word it was a couple of months ago when schools were closed, but it very much needs to be embedded in a business’ culture,” said Simon Landi, managing director at Access.

Going for the Gold CPD Accreditation in a year of lockdowns has given the agency a huge step up and cemented the team’s belief to keep learning and wellbeing at the heart of its growth. 

Landi continues: “While focus needed to be given to operational requirements as we pivoted the full agency to remote working, we didn’t overlook that there is a clear link between Continuous Professional Development and a happy, enthused team delivering great work.

“It was already a strategic objective to be an agency with a geographically diverse workforce prior to Covid – and our recruitment in the 12 months prior had in the main been remote workers. The pandemic just accelerated this further.

“So we were already creating a positive agency culture that wasn’t reliant on being in the office and were ensuring that all new staff had the support and learning resources they need, and that while working from home all appraisals and training plans were upheld. 

“Investing heavily in training and development is a long-term strategy that sits at the heart of our agency. We felt we had an effective CPD programme that was agile for all types of working across all disciplines – after all, development opportunities and progression are at the top of reasons why people leave or stay at an organisation, and undoubtedly deliver a better client service. 

“This became evident when we undertook the process for going for IPA CPD Gold, which brought everything we were doing together in a more structured way and also gave us an opportunity to ‘evidence’ the positive impact our activity was having on business objectives.”

Access created a CPD team to drive through and evidence the agency’s processes.

Achieving IPA CPD Gold involves being able to clearly prove the highest industry standards, reflected by the fact that it’s only ever awarded to a handful of agencies each year (around 10% of member agencies).

Throughout the course of the year, it centrally recorded its training endeavours from across the agency in categories ranging from UX training and commercial qualifications to webinars, tech events, internal training and skill sharing.

The team measured what it had achieved in terms of a business objective against the contributing factors, where training played a part in helping to achieve success against the business objective.

For each contributing factor it detailed:

  • What training or learning was completed to support each initiative and how useful it was.
  • Did it meet personal objectives and key takeaways?
  • How people applied the learning in their day-to-day work.
  • What changed as a result of training, e.g. time or cost saving, increased efficiency.
  • Success metrics for the agency.

As a result, from the records the business had a clear view of the training initiatives that were underpinning its achievements against three strategic business objectives. Records also indicated the clear return on investment the initiatives were having. 

Mark Hope, digital director at Access, added: “The completion of our submission to the IPA CPD Gold scheme has really highlighted the amount of inter-team knowledge sharing and significant improvements that have been made to internal efficiencies as a result of the mostly proactive training. We can also see the adoption timeline of new techniques and tools across the year and the way in which they have radically transformed how we deliver work and strengthened our offer to clients in 2021.

“It’s a fantastic agency achievement and cements our position as one of the leading digital agencies in the region, if not the UK.” 

Commenting on Access’ Gold achievement, the IPA’s feedback on its submission was: “Access have blazed onto the Gold scene with huge conviction and confidence this year. A clear and coherent submission encapsulated a programme of clever CPD interventions, brought to bear at just the right time in just the right places.

“The strength of evidence shared with us proved how valuable Access’ CPD programme has been to them in a very tough year for everyone. It was wonderful to witness their story, how far they have come and crucially how far they can go in 2021 and beyond with the strong foundations they have set.”

Simon Landi concluded: “Achieving IPA CPD Gold actually means more to me than any award we’ve ever won because it shows that we have a fantastic culture of ‘supporting individuals’. Core to this is how we provide guidance and help and our processes that show that the business cares – it cares about everyone – and unsurprisingly the business benefits as a direct result.

“The fact that we’ve been recognised for that by the IPA is because our whole team is on board with the concept. Everyone can evidence how that support has helped them contribute. I can’t win this award, our creative team can’t win this award, our development team can’t win this award – we can only win it if we work hard together to achieve it, and we did, and for that I am very grateful and very proud.”