PwC’s US Work-Anywhere policy aims to attract and retain staff

PwC LLP has implemented a work-anywhere policy for its 55,000 U.S. employees, allowing them to choose an all-virtual work option in a bid to retain and attract workers, a move that could push the profession to embrace long-term remote work.

The firm will also require staff to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to visit any PwC office or client location from November 1.

The company’s new policies, announced to staff Thursday, will help expand its reach to potential hires as well as retain top talent in a competitive market, PwC said.

Larger accounting firms have increasingly embraced flexible working arrangements that allow staff to decide where to work on any given day, with an emphasis on using the office to bring teams together for training or planning. But PwC is the first of the Big Four to announce a policy that considers all remote workers.

“We want our employees to feel as safe as possible, and if that ultimately means they want to do their jobs 100% from home, we’re going to figure out how to make that work,” said Shannon Schuyler, the company’s main focus. and inclusion agent. “Hopefully this will open the door for more people to come into the business and for more people to feel like this is where they want to be now.”

Clients, too, are working on similar questions about the future of work with their own teams, she said. Some are willing to have PwC staff work on site, others are not. The business will need to be nimble to match staff with the right skills with the right customers based on those flexibility expectations, Schuyler said.

The company began reopening office lots to staff earlier this year, with all sites set to reopen by November, offering staff the option of a hybrid work schedule, she said.

Talent War

Wider acceptance of virtual work comes amid an accounting recruitment crisis.

Employers ranging from corporations to large CPA firms must increasingly offer higher salaries and signing bonuses to turn candidates into new hires. The ability to work nearly full-time, or even part-time, is among the perks workers seek, said Jeramy Kaiman, who leads professional recruiting services for Adecco Group North America.

“This is the most candidate-friendly hiring market I’ve ever seen,” Kaiman said.

These recruitment strategies trickle down to existing staff, becoming a tool to retain workers already on the payroll. And the repeated expansions of hybrid and remote work with the advent of the delta variant of the coronavirus have only strengthened its acceptance, he said.

“The longer people work remotely, the more they get used to it, like it and want it, and the more companies believe they can succeed and be productive while people work remotely,” he said. he declares.

The 10 largest US accounting firms today typically offer some variation of flexible and remote working, but these models are likely to become permanent fixtures as business leaders realize they have no choice but to ease their grip on traditional office work, said Allan Koltin, a consultant. accounting and law firms on how to manage their business.

He compared it to ditching suits for business casual; the profession has never looked back. Companies that don’t embed remote work into their culture and treat these workers the same as office-based workers “are going to have serious problems in the future trying to compete,” Koltin said.

The competition

PwC competitor Ernst & Young LLP offers staff the option to work at a client site, in an EY office or from home, and has not yet required staff to be vaccinated to access shared workplaces.

KPMG LLP will require vaccinations or negative Covid tests for staff to enter company offices from Monday. The company said it continues to embrace flexible working and is working on the details of a “hybrid model to bring people together with a focus on health, wellbeing and connection”.

Deloitte LLP told Bloomberg Tax in a statement that the company plans to gradually transition from a primarily remote working method to a hybrid model with a customizable mix of remote, client and desktop working. “We will ultimately foster the best of impactful in-person connections and mentorship, along with great ongoing flexibility,” the company said.

The company had previously said it would require staff to be vaccinated.

BDO USA LLP announced a flexible work policy in May, allowing staff to decide where to work using a combination of remote, in-office or on-site client work that will vary from week to week, the company said. . The changes will provide staff with a better work-life balance and ensure the company is an attractive place to work, BDO said.

Overlapping goals

Changing where people work is also changing how PwC uses its office space and how much air travel is expected from staff, but how much less isn’t yet clear, Schuyler said.

The company expects the offices to be used for team planning and brainstorming, as well as training. Some air travel will still be required, but the company is beginning to determine which airlines to use and what types of fuel those planes use, all with the goal of achieving carbon-neutral emissions targets by 2030.

Air travel accounts for a significant portion of the company’s carbon emissions, according to a report detailing its diversity, commitments and environmental progress.

In 2019, before the pandemic, air travel contributed 87% of the company’s total greenhouse gas emissions. In 2021, that figure dropped to 9.5%, according to the report.

The U.S. company also released updated data on its workforce diversity and retention trends, showing that men and women are paid equally and pay equity is largely achieved across groups. racial and ethnic.

The company lost fewer women than men over the past year, but struggled to find experienced women interested in joining the company when they tried to fill vacancies, Schuyler said. .

PwC also revised its minority hiring targets to halve its black and Hispanic workforce over the next four years. The firm also aims to increase the number of women and minority partner candidates by 50% by 2026.

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