Big Four top of the class

by Viv on March 15, 2008

In the Sunday Times Best 100 Companies to work for, the Big Four have scored very impressively, taking 4 of the top 12 in the 20 Best Big Companies list, with KPMG leading the way. Congratulations to everyone concerned in making this happen. In a professional practice, it’s rare for non-fee earners to get the credit so it’s great to enjoy this chance in the limelight. So what does more detailed analysis of the results reveal and how can other practices learn from this?

The Big Four scooped four of the top five places for Personal Growth i.e. the extent staff feel they are stretched and challenged by their job. From an L&D pespective, this reflects how there is a clear sense of career progression, backed up with competency frameworks. Over the last 15 years, there has been a revolution in making the processes around promotion and admission to partnership more objective and transparent. The virtuous cycle of smart ambitious people working together making it easier to recruit more smart ambitious people is still turning.

The area that the Big Four scored relatively less well on was Wellbeing; how people feel about stress, pressure and the balance between their work and home duties. There is a clear “clients first” culture throughout professional services which leads to compromise in other areas of life. The Big Four have improved this area through flexible benefits, more flexible working patterns, career breaks, secondment opportunities and some of their Corporate Social Responsibility activities have given staff social, developmental and personal outlets away from the grind of client work.

My overall sense is that the Big Four methods of attracting graduates are worthy of emulation and that there is some scope for L&D to improve retention through targeting aspects of Wellbeing that may be underserviced.

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