PwC’s COVID response was driven by wellbeing; Here’s why

The professional services firm pivoted benefits, leave policies and more to focus acutely on wellness.
By: | June 10, 2021

This is the third in a series spotlighting five leading companies that relied on HR innovation to confront the challenges of the pandemic and to continue transforming their workforces. Read about Bank of America’s work with disabled employees here and Verizon’s efforts around working women here.

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As employees reported staggering levels of stress, anxiety and burnout in the wake of the pandemic, organizations everywhere have sought to enhance their wellness initiatives. For global professional services firm PwC, a commitment to employee wellness has been at the core of the company’s entire COVID response strategy—from benefits to rewards to coaching.

“Our goal as a firm has been to be an agent of stability in an otherwise chaotic world,” says PwC People Experience Leader Kimberly Jones. “That included acting to protect our people’s safety, but it was also about doing whatever we could to ease our people’s minds and provide them with resources and enhanced benefits.”

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Most recently, that goal was evinced through a program announced in April that rewards employees with $250 each time they take a full week of vacation time—up to four times per year—a response to ongoing concerns that, during the pandemic, employees aren’t utilizing PTO. The organization also instituted “Fridays Your Way” to discourage Friday afternoon calls and meetings throughout the summer.

Kimberly Jones, people experience leader, PwC

“This reinforces our commitment to our people’s wellbeing and recognizes the importance of disconnecting,” says Jones.

The announcements were built on a year of initiatives designed to center employee wellness amid the ongoing disruptions. The organization instituted a leave policy that allows employees to take anywhere from one to six months off at 20% pay, and it formalized flexibility, allowing employees to reduce schedules or block times of the day for personal matters.

See also: How BofA has innovated to support disabled employees

Financial rewards and incentives have been a cornerstone of the company’s wellness strategies.

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PwC implemented mid-year pay raises and issued a $250 work-from-home stipend to all employees. It added an extra week of pay on top of the existing bonus structure to reward employees for their work during the challenges of the last year, Jones says, and announced this spring that it would double the funding for its “spot bonuses,” financial rewards given to those who embody the company’s values.

Employees can also track their daily wellbeing habits through PwC’s digital wellbeing platform and earn cash rewards.

Providing workers access to mental health resources has also been key, Jones adds, noting that PwC now offers wellbeing coaching to all employees at no cost.

“We realize mental health is critical during times of crisis,” Jones says, “and still don’t know the impact this crisis will have on our long-term wellbeing.”

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Carol Brzozowski contributed to this story.

Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.