In 2015, Millennials surpassed Generation X as the largest portion of the American workforce, now making up more than one third of American workers, according to Pew Research Center. With that in mind, proactive employers are taking the time to understand what motivates Millennials to choose—and remain loyal to—their place of work.
The accounting profession is no different. Brown Smith Wallace, a nationally ranked top-100 accounting firm, added new features to its employee benefit package in an effort to recruit and retain more Millennials. As of January 1, 2016, the firm offers paid maternity leave and increased personal time off—including unlimited vacation for managers and principals—based on years of service at the firm.
“Over the past year, we reviewed our firm’s benefits, researched what is trending in the industry and the local marketplace, and, most importantly, listened to our number one asset: our people,” says Lauren Sanders, human resources manager at Brown Smith Wallace. “We’re seeing that Millennials want more workplace flexibility, career development opportunities and work/life balance.”
Female employees who have worked at the firm three to seven years now receive 100 percent salary continuation for four weeks of maternity leave, and those who have worked at the firm for eight or more years receive six weeks. Employees’ vacation and sick days are now categorized together as personal time off (PTO) and based on job classification and years of service, beginning with four weeks for zero to five years of service. Managers and principals now enjoy an unlimited vacation leave policy, with two weeks of required time off.
“We refer to our people as the ‘Brown Smith Wallace Family,’ and that family culture continues to be a major cornerstone of our firm,” says Tony Caleca, managing partner. “We know that in order for our family members to put their best feet forward, we must support an environment in which individuals can maintain an enriched personal life while pursuing professional success.”
The firm’s new benefits expand upon its existing initiatives to attract and retain talent. Through the firm’s in-house continuing professional education (CPE) program, Brown Smith Wallace University, performance managers work with each individual at the beginning of the year to design a development plan targeting key curriculum for professional growth. Also, each professional is paired up with a mentor in a different practice to serve as a career coach and offer an alternative perspective for professional development.
To encourage professional growth in the firm’s developing female leaders, in 2014 Brown Smith Wallace launched its women’s initiative The Bridge: Connecting Women Leaders of Today & Tomorrow, a women’s initiative event series. Through professional development and networking events, The Bridge creates an opportunity for younger professionals to connect with and learn from experienced leaders in the firm, as well as the local business community.
The firm’s Social and Charitable Committee and Wellness Committee also plan events throughout the year to encourage social, physical and emotional wellness, including a firm softball team, regular happy hours by staff level and wellness challenges. The firm’s Creve Coeur office also offers a complimentary on-campus gym.
Brown Smith Wallace is ranked the 20th best accounting employer in the U.S. in the 2016 Vault Accounting 50.