Solving together:

We’re helping companies build a productive workforce and organisation.

Leading player on Japan’s wheelchair basketball team, Shimpei Oikawa
Now, Disability Inclusion Leader at PwC Japan

How can companies build a productive workforce and organisation?

To achieve sustained success, companies need to recruit, retain, and support productive teams. In this chapter, we’ll share some of what we’ve learned this year about how companies can build productive workforces and organisations.

Today, the challenge of building successful teams may seem tougher than ever. For starters, the pandemic has led many workers to re-evaluate what’s important to them. As a result, one person in five is looking to move jobs in the next 12 months, according to PwC’s latest global workforce research. This ‘Great Resignation’ - combined with surging demand for people with specialised skills in areas like cybersecurity and ESG - is making it more challenging for companies to hire people with the right capabilities. 

One person in five is looking to move jobs in the next 12 months.

PwC’s 2022 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey

The pandemic has brought another major shift. For many workers, hybrid working is now the new normal. Hybrid working presents a host of new issues for business leaders including how to build trust, foster productivity, and manage effectively when teams may rarely see each other face-to-face. 

Well over half – 63% – of all employees expect their employer to offer a mix of in-person and remote work in the next 12 months.

PwC’s 2022 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey

In addition, employee expectations are growing for meaningful work, inclusion & diversity, and pay that keeps up with the rapidly rising cost of living. 

75% of employees said they want to work for an organisation that makes a positive contribution to society.

PwC’s 2022 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey

These shifts add up to a challenging environment for companies that need to build the right workforce for sustained success. At PwC, we’re taking innovative approaches to help our clients solve these complex issues.

In this chapter, we’ll share some of our work in the past year that offers insights into:

  • How to win the competition for talent
  • How to best manage hybrid working
  • How to use technology to build productive teams

We’ll share some of our work for clients as well as a few of our own internal initiatives within PwC. (See Our community of solvers for even more insight into how we are building and enabling our own global workforce of talented people.) 

Winning the competition for talent - from recruitment to retention

We’re helping clients strengthen their recruitment and retain their current staff amid the ‘Great Resignation’ and an intensifying competition for talent by, for example:

  • Re-engineering talent acquisition policies and processes
  • Rethinking retention strategies
  • Planning how to rehire former employees (which many companies are now doing)

Below we share a few things we’ve learnt this year about how to win the competition for talent.

Five lessons we’ve learnt about recruiting and retaining great people

Competition for talented graduates is tough. Edge is the graduate programme of our Deals practice in EMEA and Asia Pacific. Edge is specifically designed to build a workforce that’s inspired, productive and loyal. Below we share 5 lessons we’ve learnt from Edge about how to attract talented people and help them have a great experience so they stay.


  • 1
    Different is good. Instead of recruiting only finance graduates (as is common), we actively draw graduates from fields such as architecture, law and chemistry. This creates a wider recruiting pool while bringing a diversity of skills to PwC’s community of solvers. Clients and fellow staff appreciate the diversity of viewpoints and creative problem-solving that result.
  • 2
    Help people find their fit. We don’t pigeonhole people. Our new joiners on the Edge programme have several years to explore different parts of the business, settling on a speciality when they’ve found their fit.
  • 3
    Personal relationships build loyalty and effectiveness. We invest in face-to-face international events to build relationships among new joiners, and we help them grow their networks. We make sure new joiners connect with PwC role models to build mentor/mentee relationships early on.
  • 4
    Offer valued on-the-job certifications. Thousands of people start their careers at PwC. We help them build skills they can take forward. Dealmakers-in-training who join the Edge programme are sponsored through professional qualifications, and those who complete the programme are awarded the PwC Advanced Certificate in Deals.
  • 5
    Proactive career support can make a difference. We’ve increased the percentage of female new joiners into our Deals practice via Edge by 42% in the past five years. When women choose to join PwC, we actively support their career progression by making sure they have early leadership opportunities as well as female role models and mentors.
With active support from Deals leadership, we are blazing a trail among global businesses in building and supporting an ecosystem of women recruits, mentors, and role models in the traditionally male-dominated deals sector.”
Helen Sullivan
Helen Sullivan
Edge Programme Director, PwC UK

Employees want meaning, competence, flexibility

What motivates today’s employees to give their best? And which factors influence people’s decisions to join an employer - and whether to stay?

Our Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022 - one of the largest workforce surveys ever undertaken - suggests some answers. The findings, presented by our Global Chairman Bob Moritz at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos in May 2022, provide many valuable insights both for PwC and our clients. For instance, the research revealed what matters most to employees when they are considering a change in work environment. Pay is the top driver. But meaning is the next most important factor (with flexibility about when/where to work and a desire to feel productive/competent also among the top factors). 

Meaning matters to employees

Most important factors when considering a change in work environment, % of respondents1

Label Responses
I am fairly rewarded financially 71%
I find my job fulfilling 69%
I can truly be myself 66%
My team cares about my wellbeing 60%
I can exceed what is expected of me in my job role 58%
I can choose when I work 50%
I can choose where I work 47%
  • Compensation
  • Meaning
  • Confidence/competence
  • Autonomy
1Respondents who selected extremely or very important.
Source: PwC's 2022 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey of 52,195 workers across 44 countries and territories
Leaders need to engage with the desire of people to work for organisations that live up to their purpose and values, and offer a positive workforce culture.”
-	Peter Brown
Peter Brown
Joint Global Leader, People & Organisation, PwC UK

Our findings underline the need for business leaders to clearly articulate the company’s purpose and help staff find meaning and fulfillment in their work. In addition, bosses can better attract people by offering work flexibility and helping employees to feel productive and competent. 

There’s an upside to supporting employees in discussing challenging issues at work

Our Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022 highlights another way to create a working environment that encourages loyalty. Many people assume that employee conversations about societal topics like climate, immigration, race, and gender equity are a potential source of discord - and a headache for HR. But they should think again.

Our Hopes and Fears Survey found that 65% of employees sometimes or frequently have workplace conversations about political and social issues. What’s more, they’re benefitting from the experience. So although most organisations aren’t supporting employees in having these conversations, they’d be better off helping people talk through thorny issues.

The reality is that people are taking those social issues into the workplace. If leadership is not creating an environment for them to talk about these things, that's another disruption that causes people to be frustrated with their job and their work environment – and ultimately move on to something else.”
-	Bob Moritz
Bob Moritz
Global Chairman, PwC

For example, PwC US holds ‘Candid Conversations’ to give staff a place to discuss challenging issues. Topics have included events in Afghanistan, Ukraine, race, LGBTQ+, and religion.

Diverse workforces will inevitably bring differences of opinion about major societal issues into their workplaces. Leaders need to ensure these discussions can benefit teams rather than dividing them.The role of employers isn’t to tell workers what to think, but to give them a voice, choice and safe environment to share feelings, listen and learn about how these issues are impacting their colleagues.”
Bhushan Sethi
Bhushan Sethi
Joint Global Leader, People & Organisation, PwC US

The Dutch Ministry of Defence is responding to the war for talent

We’re seeing companies have to strive harder to meet the talent pool’s changing expectations of jobs. PwC Netherlands’ work with the Dutch Ministry of Defence shows one way these expectations can be met.

The Dutch Ministry of Defence needs to recruit a new generation of soldiers with the technological skills for modern warfare amid intense competition for tech-savvy talent. We helped the organisation gain a holistic view of what’s needed to become the employer of choice by addressing three tough questions:

  1. Workforce strategy: Which people with which skills do you need in order to be successful?
  2. Value proposition: What do these people want and need for them to work for you – what’s your value proposition?
  3. HR transformation: How does your HR function need to be structured to deliver against this?

We’re now helping the Ministry modernise its employee value proposition to appeal to a new generation. For example, it’s changing the organisational culture to be less hierarchical and more answerable to employee’s preferences. And it’s creating flexible, tailored career paths.

Help staff ‘leave while staying’

We’re helping clients win the competition for talent by keeping (or rehiring) the talent they already have. Some companies are developing ‘leaving while staying’ programmes, helping people move jobs within the business rather than go elsewhere. At PwC US, the ‘Always a PwCer’ programme recognises and supports people’s desire to try roles at different companies, welcoming them back to PwC if they re-join.

Making hybrid working a success

In many professions, hybrid working is the new normal. Companies must adapt to this shift. Our Hopes and Fears survey showed that only 11% of respondents who are able to work remotely prefer full-time in-person working. 

Clear preference for hybrid working
Label Assured by audit firm Assured by other service provider Disclosed - no assurance Not disclosed
Prefer a mix of in-person and remote working 63%
Expect their employer to offer a mix of in-person and remote working for at least the next 12 months 63%
Prefer full-time remote working 26%
Expect their employer to offer a full-time remote option 18%
Prefer full-time in-person working 11%
Expect their employer to require full-time in-person working 18%
  • Hybrid working
  • Remote working
  • In-person working
Source: PwC's 2022 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey

Companies that do not offer hybrid working to employees who desire it may encounter issues with retaining those employees. For example, our Pulse Survey of the US workforce shows that wages are employees' number one reason for leaving, but flexibility is a close second. 

We’re helping companies manage the transition to hybrid working – for instance, by building strategies for being an inclusive leader in a hybrid environment. We’re helping clients get their workforce strategies right by identifying the ‘nonnegotiables’ that employees expect in the world of hybrid work. These range from one-to-one mentoring to responsible behaviour on social and environmental issues.

We know how difficult it can be to maintain a cohesive culture when a large part of the workforce regularly works from home. We’ve pinpointed three ways companies that offer hybrid working can maintain a strong company culture

Three steps to success in hybrid working

  • 1
    Understand your culture and link it to explicit behaviours
  • 2
    Build the right physical environment
  • 3
    Provide the right support mechanisms
  • Source: ‘Three ways to prevent hybrid work from breaking your company culture.’ strategy+business, June 2022.

Across PwC’s global network of firms, we’re taking a range of approaches to give employees greater flexibility. It’s a key part of how we build a happier, healthier, more engaged workforce that delivers high-quality service and sustained outcomes for our clients. Here are some examples:


  • BrazilPwC Brazil: Reconfiguring office space to shift from desks to collaboration spaces
  • AustraliaPwC Australia (and many countries): Allowing overseas remote working for a set number of weeks a year
  • CanadaPwC Canada: An app helps people find where their colleagues are sitting since people no longer have fixed desks
  • GermanyPwC Germany: With the Trust in People initiative, teams are encouraged to decide cooperatively how, when and where they work together
  • USAPwC US: The first professional services firm in the US to offer all client service employees the option to work virtually and live anywhere in the country
There has been a fundamental shift in the relationship between employees and employers. We can’t sustainably compete on compensation and benefits alone. We must take bold action to provide a personalised career experience that engages our people to stay longer and inspires top talent to join us.”
Yolanda Seals-Coffield
Yolanda Seals-Coffield
Chief People Officer, PwC US

Using technology to build productive teams

Technology offers many possibilities for empowering people to be more effective in their jobs. As we’ve seen, workers value competence and achievement. Below, we share some of the ways that we’re helping clients use technology to empower their people to work more effectively. In this way, technology can help companies be more productive while also helping people find more fulfillment in their roles. Below, we share five case studies that illustrate a range of ways that we’re helping clients deploy technology to enable greater productivity.



Helping nurses work better and smarter – and inspiring more people to stay in the profession

Nurses are at the heart of patient care. But attracting people to the healthcare profession – and then getting them to stay within it – are long-standing issues now exacerbated by COVID-19. When a private healthcare group in South Africa asked PwC South Africa for help recruiting and retaining more nurses, we set out to help nurses work better and smarter, thereby making the job more fulfilling and appealing.

PwC South Africa collaborated on an app solution built by our innovation ecosystem. Now, nurses spend less time on administration and more time with patients. This helps improve care standards and health outcomes, benefitting patients and their loved ones. The app also makes nurses’ work more rewarding, enhancing the profession’s ability to retain existing staff and attract newcomers.


Transforming call centre productivity for a leading Australian telco

PwC Australia helped leading Australian telecommunication company Telstra boost the productivity of its call centre teams during the challenging move to remote working. Alongside our partner Microsoft, we connected disparate data sources into a single source of truth, embedded digital tools and built frontline leader capability through a blend of training and coaching.

As a result of our work, Telstra’s call centres now achieve better productivity, employee engagement and customer experience with customer calls resolved 45% faster, a 10% increase in staff engagement and fewer call transfers. The key ingredient that delivered these outcomes? The combination of smart technology and human skill in deploying it. As with so many of our clients, Telstra’s success is truly human-led and tech-enabled. To learn more about Telstra’s story, read the full case study.


UK Athletics is using data to help its athletes go for gold

Accurate and timely data is as vital to performance in athletics as it is in business. And in elite sport, small changes can provide a big competitive advantage.

PwC UK helped UK Athletics harness the power of data to increase its athletes’ chances of success. They brought together a multi-skilled team of solvers from across the PwC network to build a cloud analytics platform and perform data cleansing, modelling, and analysis. Their work enabled UK Athletics to integrate, benchmark and analyse crucial athlete performance data including nutrition, strength and conditioning, biomechanics, sleep patterns, and injury history. Now, UK Athletics is gaining powerful new insights to help team members enhance their performance and win more medals. To read the full story, check out the case study.
Alex Cooke, Data Intelligence Partner, PwC UK, commented, ‘This has been a hugely exciting project with [PwC and UK Athletics] eager to push boundaries and develop new ways to help athletes win more medals. While the work we’re doing here is unique, it’s ultimately about using data to optimise your performance and achieve your goals which is important in any industry.’


Using VR to deliver more effective upskilling and build trust

PwC’s Global Learning & Development teams are exploring new ways to use virtual reality (VR) to help clients train their teams. We’re applying VR to:

  • Upskill staff by enabling them to practise tackling complex real-life challenges in a safe space (for example, we’ve helped a retailer enable its staff to practise dealing with robberies)
  • Enhance productivity through immersive experiences that help people learn faster
  • Build trust by bringing people together while reducing the need for travel, supporting sustainability and employee flexibility

VR can help teams’ confidence as they practise high stakes situations with no risk, leading to significant improvements in team dynamics, collaboration and productivity. The result is sustained positive outcomes for team members and the business as a whole.


Boosting the productivity of HR teams with a chatbot

New starters in companies are often bombarded with a wealth of HR-related information, resulting in support staff being asked the same questions repeatedly.

This takes up time for both HR teams and staff, in turn reducing productivity. To tackle this challenge, PwC Canada developed an HR chatbot for our clients that answers the most common questions automatically via instant messaging. The chatbot delivers better experiences for new starters and HR teams and has reduced HR overheads by 15%.

In conclusion: no-regrets moves

We pinpointed moves key to a successful workforce strategy

Throughout this chapter, we’ve surveyed many of the challenges employers face from how to win the competition for talent to how to help employees find meaning in their work. This year, our Future of Work and Skills Survey pinpointed a range of ‘no-regrets’ moves that employers can make to build a workforce strategy that navigates some of these issues. The no-regrets moves include:

  • Anticipate and plan for the future
  • Build trust in the organisation and its leadership
  • Optimise workforce productivity and performance
  • Enable the skills of the future
  • Prepare for and deploy technology with humans in mind
  • Build the ability to rapidly access and deploy talent

Business leaders may find these six moves useful as they seek to create a workforce strategy that helps to build a team ready to deliver sustained success for the business.

Contact us

Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown

Director, Global Corporate Affairs and Communications, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 7384 248 785

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