Finding Room to Sing: Encouraging Workplace Flexibility and Well-Being
“After five years of putting work first and striving to be the ‘go-to’ guy, I was on the brink of burning out.” That’s what Karlo Siriban, PwC Technology Consultant, said to me recently.
Karlo had always been a performer—from singing to his parents in their family living room to playing the lead in his high school play—performing was his passion. But once he started working, he found that he was no longer devoting time to the things that rounded out his life and were most important to him, including performance.
Karlo’s experience might be familiar to some of you. You may have heard a similar story from someone in your office, or you may have personal experiences that relate. Too often, we see workers today putting all of their energy into succeeding in the workplace, while leaving their personal lives and well-being to suffer. It’s not so shocking, then, to learn that as many as 61% of American workers report feeling burned out on the job.
Luckily, more and more companies are coming to understand the importance of allowing staff to invest time in their personal and professional growth, to the benefit of both the individual’s well-being and that of the business.
No One-Size-Fits-All Flexibility Approach
At PwC, we’ve taken steps to better understand what our staff members need and how we can help them build the skills to succeed. For Karlo, that meant sitting down with his coaches, mentors, and fellow team members to develop a plan to help him thrive at work and in his personal life. He now has protected time on Friday’s to perform, rehearse, and audition for Broadway plays across New York City, all while excelling at PwC.
Across the firm, we prioritize work/life flexibility in the benefits we provide and the culture we promote. It’s one of the biggest changes we’ve made as a firm to address the evolving needs of our workforce, and it’s become increasingly important as a tool to maintain employee satisfaction and retention. In fact, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 89% of HR professionals reported an increase in employee retention simply by launching flexible work arrangements.
Within our approach, we acknowledge that flexibility means different things to people at different stages of their career. It’s important to empower your people to talk about their unique needs and make flexible work decisions that best suit them, because there is no one-size-fits-all option. For us alone, flexibility encompasses everything from year-round flex days and an unprescribed number of sick days to personalized schedules. We even encourage our people to take a break, closing our offices between Christmas and New Year’s for 14 years in a row, allowing staff to spend time with family and recharge. And, for the first time ever, PwC is shutting down this year for the full week of July 4th to encourage similar relaxation and renewal.
Empowering Staff to Prioritize Well-Being
We’ve also found that an emphasis on well-being goes hand-in-hand with our approach to flexibility and helps us meet the needs of our people. Our Be well, work well platform reflects our belief that to strengthen corporate culture, we must empower people to prioritize their well-being and renew their energy, while equipping them with the tools and support to do so. The platform’s teachings are grounded in science and help people develop behaviors and habits to fuel their core needs.
When your people are completely fulfilled physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, they are their best selves and can do their best work. By putting staff well-being first, your workplace becomes a happier place, leading to better morale and increased productivity. The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that of employers offering well-being programs, 67% reported increased employee satisfaction, 66% reported increased productivity, and 50% reported decreased absenteeism.
Keep Your People in Mind
At PwC, it’s not about working less; it’s about working differently to create an environment where our people can bring their whole selves to work. We recognize that when we listen to our staff and prioritize flexibility and well-being, we see a clear, positive impact on our business.
When I spoke to Karlo recently, he said, “At PwC, I have never questioned whether my colleagues and coaches will support my flexible schedule, as long as it’s what is best for me. Knowing my workplace supports my well-being and passions outside of work has made all the difference in encouraging me to continue putting great work forward.”
All companies should strive to implement policies and benefits with their people in mind, allowing everyone to succeed at work while fostering their individual passions, like Karlo. To hear Karlo’s story firsthand, check out his video on PwC’s YouTube page, and keep an eye out—he might be in the next Broadway show you see!
As the U.S. People Innovation Leader at PwC, Anne Donovan is responsible for human capital strategy and innovation. She leads culture change through a variety of initiatives, such as the development of workforce models and business strategies, to support a more diverse, dynamic, and flexible workforce. Donovan has strong expertise in operational effectiveness and in engaging and supporting the firm and its people in leading positive change. Her deep knowledge of human capital issues draws upon her 30 years of experience at PwC where she has held diverse roles across client service, operations, diversity, and firm strategy.
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