CEOs around the world are pulling hard on every business lever within their reach. Productivity, innovation and transformation have evolved from aspirations into a vital agenda for corporate survival. However, there’s another important lever that CEOs must also get to grips with: building and maintaining a truly engaged, flexible and talented workforce.
“In a climate of growing unemployment in many locations and an increasing pool of highly educated people across the globe, it’s hard to imagine that business leaders are facing a widening ‘talent gap’. But they are. In fact, most CEOs tell us that talent is the most complex and urgent challenge they face today.
“To meet this challenge, business leaders need to get more strategic about how they manage their people. A clear understanding of – and respect for – what employees really value is a vital step towards shaping an organisation that attracts, motivates and retains the best talent, at every level and in every location. Here at PwC we seek to recruit talented people and we know they will work hard to contribute. In return, we offer them the opportunity of a lifetime.”
At PwC, we know that our people feel engaged if they understand how their efforts create value – not only for them, but also for our clients. And we’ve boiled this requirement down into a single, straightforward proposition for all our employees. With a workforce as diverse as ours, you might not have thought that one proposition could cover everyone at PwC. But we think it does.
What is our proposition? Simply that PwC represents the opportunity of a lifetime. In our view, this proposition is not only simple, but also real. Even more important, our people have responded enthusiastically to this new expression of what it means to be part of PwC.
One sign of this positive response is that our people are reporting rising engagement with PwC as an employer. In our latest global people survey, 72% of PwC people worldwide voiced high levels of personal engagement. What’s more, 85% of the largest PwC firms increased their levels of people engagement in FY 2012, with some increasing their scores by as much as 15 points.
Your career is just that: yours. You choose it. You live it. You make it happen. To get the best from it, you need the best opportunities.
That’s why opportunities are at the heart of PwC careers. Opportunities to grow as an individual, to work flexibly, to build lasting relationships and make an impact in a place where people, quality and value mean everything. The skills, insights and connections you develop at PwC are career defining wherever your career may take you.
Talent, hard work and opportunity. You provide the first two, we’ll take care of the rest. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. Take it.
People engagement correlates closely to employee retention – and here we’ve seen further positive signs this year, with a decrease of more than 2% in voluntary turnover. But the benefits of higher engagement go way beyond increased retention, since a deeply engaged workforce also brings strategic advantage. Why? Because, by definition, engaged employees embed the goals and objectives of the business in all the plans they make and decisions they take. This means that, through their combined weight, they pull firmly and consistently in the right direction.
Fundamental to our ability to engage our people is recognising their individual skills, experience and aspirations. Even before they start work, each of the 40,000 people we hire this year will go through an onboarding process that provides them with the opportunity to start to consider their own personal career paths with PwC. Some of these recruits will be experienced professionals, part-way through their careers. But most will be members of the millennial generation, embarking on a new journey.
|In our latest survey, 72% of PwC people worldwide voiced high levels of personal engagement.|
The millennials come to the job market with particular views about what they want from an employer. For them, prestige, money or job security are not necessarily the most important considerations. Instead, they’re looking for the chance to gain new experiences and be provided with career development and mobility opportunities.
We strive to fulfil these expectations in many ways, just one of which is overseas secondments. Every year, thousands of our people – most of them in the early stages of their career with PwC – take part in long- or short-term assignments.
These secondments give our people unique career experiences, while also providing PwC firms and clients with a sizable group of professionals who are capable and comfortable working across borders. And we keep these increasingly skilled and valuable people engaged, by continuing to offer them new experiences and enabling them to move around between different jobs.
|We've had many successes and awards that reflect our deep commitment to our greatest asset, our people.|
While our workforce includes a high proportion of younger people, our business model is based on deploying in-depth experience and expertise quickly to anywhere in the world. This is why, in addition to recruiting promising junior staff, we also hire and retain highly experienced people, with skills that have been built up and proven over many years. For some in this group, their stage of life – perhaps as parents of young children – means job flexibility may be a priority.
Consequently, providing our people with opportunities to decide where they work, what they work on, and even when they work will be critical for us to build and sustain their engagement, not to mention the opportunities for them to engage in other aspects of the business, such as our community engagement programmes.
We also look to extend our engagement with our people beyond the boundaries of PwC. As their careers develop and their priorities evolve, many PwC people will eventually go on to join other organisations. We believe that the experience and relationships our alumni build at PwC stay with them, wherever their paths lead. That’s why it’s important that we keep in touch with our alumni. Also, a number of our alumni rejoin us each year, making it even more worthwhile to keep the communication channels open.
|We’ve launched a career development framework that helps guide our people through the rich array of career paths PwC offers.|
Across our large and diverse global workforce, our aim is to provide all our people with specific opportunities that fit their individual strengths, interests and career goals. To do this, we need to understand their personal ambitions and expectations, which can vary significantly according to age, gender, career track and life circumstances.
Getting all of this right in a way that includes everyone is crucial for enabling our people to realise their potential – and thereby enabling us to realise our full potential both for clients and as an organisation.
Another attribute that fosters engagement is being a learning organisation – and at PwC we learn every day. Our combination of learning from doing, learning from others, and learning through formal programmes and solutions means we learn rapidly, continuously and efficiently. To encourage and enable our people to make conscious and well-thought-out career choices, we’ve launched a career development framework that helps guide them through the rich array of career paths PwC offers.
In some firms, this has evolved into the creation of specialist teams that provide our people with ‘career service consultations’ when they feel they’re ready to consider new opportunities inside or outside PwC.
Many organisations claim that their people are their greatest asset. In our case this is demonstrably true. However, as with a portfolio of assets, some investments perform more highly than others – and no organisation can afford to undervalue its highest-performing members.
So we’re also building programmes to support the people who we think have the potential to become future PwC leaders. With this in mind, our plans for the coming year include initiatives to advance PwC’s approach to leadership development, along with further investments in world-class coaching and new technologies to support our people’s learning goals.
By any standards, PwC is an extraordinary organisation, with more than 180,000 talented people across 158 countries. We want to enable each and every one of these valued individuals to explore what is possible at PwC. We want them to realise their true potential and be confident of our support as they do so . . . even if that means that some use the skills, experience and relationships they build up with us to be successful elsewhere.
That’s why we call it the opportunity of a lifetime. And it’s why more and more of our people agree.
“Working together as a network gives you so much more power to make things happen quickly and effectively,” says Anne-Lise, a director in the French firm’s Paris office. “Years ago, I was lucky enough to be involved in helping to build PwC’s retail and consumer Transactions and Strategy network in Europe, which is still very strong and working.” During that time, Anne-Lise discovered for herself the power that those relationships can bring. “When people commit themselves to a network,” she notes, “they see how effective it can be in getting relevant solutions. No question, you’re stronger with a network than on your own."
- Anne-Lise Glauser, PwC France
“Entering the Paralympic stadium and waving to such huge crowds left me lost for words. That was a scene that made everything in my life positive.”
- Shimpei Oikawa, Senior associate at PwC Japan and assistant coach of Japan’s wheelchair basketball team at the 2012 London Paralympic Games
Deepa, an assistant manager in expatriate tax in Delhi, has found that being of service to her community is a very powerful and fulfilling experience. “When I saw that my firm had started a corporate responsibility initiative, it was as if my prayers had been answered. In some of the schools in the slum areas of Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai – indeed, all over India – there are children who have been deprived of the most basic things of life. So I and many of my colleagues volunteer every Saturday to go into the schools; we have quizzes on mathematics, English, drawing sessions – it’s one hour of fun and learning. And it has had an impact in even the most remote areas. When we work with PwC clients, we seek to understand their issues and we never want to fail them. But at the same time I firmly believe it is also our duty to serve this other part of our society.”
- Deepa Bachchavat, PwC India
A conversation in Japan with a visiting PwC US partner inspired Susumu Adachi to seize the opportunity to broaden his career experience. As a result, Susumu is now on a temporary secondment to New York. Says Susumu: “This is a very exciting opportunity both to develop my expertise and also to share my global experiences when I return home. I’m really honoured.” Susumu sees tremendous value in terms of his professional development: “The secondment itself is a great opportunity for me to develop new relationships and build trust.”
- Susumu Adachi, PwC Japan partner
In recent years, new ways of connecting data, content and people have helped organisations become more efficient and productive. Building on these advances, more and more organisations are coming to see that a social media network model can enable the kind and level of collaboration they need.
For example, take the task of sharing a draft digital document among a dozen members of a working group. It’s likely that this will entail the exchange of hundreds of emails, with dozens of outdated versions of the document circulating in cyberspace. Isn’t there a more efficient way to collaborate? We think there is. At PwC, the answer is an enterprise collaboration platform that we recently launched, called Spark.
What is Spark? It’s a place where PwC people can connect with colleagues to share ideas, collaborate on projects, and ultimately create more value for our clients. For a knowledge organisation like PwC, Spark simply represents a better way of working together.
It hasn’t taken long for PwC’s workforce to grasp the advantages of an enterprise collaboration platform like Spark. More than 90,000 PwC people have subscribed. And in some countries, the percentage of Spark users has already passed 75%.
So far, the best evidence we have of how Spark is transforming collaboration at PwC comes from user feedback. As one Spark subscriber says: “With Spark, I’m able to connect with people I might never have met, gain knowledge, share my resources, and educate people on topics I’m passionate about. That’s not just technology – it’s the raw power of collective intelligence...”
“It’s important to have someone challenge and question you to make sure that you’re developing in the right way and getting new perspectives.” So says Adam Pascoe, who works in the mergers and acquisitions area of PwC Australia’s Tax practice. Adam’s current partner-coach Wayne Plummer has scheduled a monthly coaching meeting with him. “At first I thought this might be excessive. But actually, it’s been great. Most of us are so busy that we just ‘do’. So this experience of having someone say – ‘Hey Adam, sit down, think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it’ – well, it’s been really powerful and effective.”
- Adam Pascoe, PwC Australia
For Antonio Rabossi, working at PwC is about making connections and building relationships. Antonio is a lawyer and works for PwC Italy’s tax and legal services practice in Milan. “Every day, clients are getting more and more demanding: they are looking for faster services with higher levels of quality. But above all, they are seeking a trustworthy adviser who can sustain a long-lasting and proficient relationship, grounded on the promise that they will receive top class services.”
- Antonio Rabossi, PwC Italy