Grant Thornton has increased its employee benefits to attract new talent and keep staff from leaving for other firms, including absorbing employee premium increases associated with its medical benefits for the 2022 calendar year to offset inflation for its workforce.
The Chicago-based firm is also offering flexible work arrangements such as reduced-work schedules, compressed work weeks and flexible days, regardless of level, along with flexible time off to allow employees to disconnect from work as needed instead of tapping into a predetermined set of paid days off. Grant Thornton has also expanded its family-care benefits, including enhanced parental leave and access to childcare, eldercare, pet care, meal planning, housekeeping and other resources to support quality of life. For workers who have gotten used to meal delivery during the pandemic, GT is providing subsidized meal-delivery services.
In addition, GT is now offering 40 hours of chargeable time annually to engage in volunteer activities, along with more flexible career-development and learning opportunities that work with people’s real-world schedules. Another enhancement is quiet hours and other steps to reduce the fatigue of video conferences and remote work. “Lifestyle accounts” for employees will offer reimbursement for wellbeing expenses, including fitness equipment purchases.
The pandemic has prompted more accounting firm employees to work remotely, exercise at home rather than at the gym, order meals from food delivery services, and adopt pets. At the same time, it has led to labor shortages and forced firms to compete even more for scarce employees who are seeking higher pay and other ways to cope with the high rate of inflation this year. Other major firms like KPMG and PwC have also moved to enhance their benefits in recent months.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed what workers need and expect from their benefits,” said Mike Monahan, Grant Thornton’s national managing principal of people and community, in a statement Wednesday. “Today’s benefits must do more than just complement salaries; they must create total wellbeing across multiple dimensions: emotional, physical, career, social and financial.”
Grant Thornton is not only going to be paying for increases in medical insurance premiums but it will also offer several medical-insurance plans with mental-health benefits, bolstered by two employee-assistance programs with expanded virtual-counseling options. GT will make its employee-assistance programs available to all its workers and their family members, even if they are not enrolled in its medical plans. In addition, Grant Thornton is providing targeted benefits to support mental health, including those promoting fitness and supporting pet care.
“Research has shown that having a pet is helping younger professionals contend with the stress and loneliness of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lou Ann Hutchison, Grant Thornton’s managing director in charge of rewards and benefits, in a statement. “So, benefits such as pet-adoption assistance, pet insurance and pet-sitting support are proving to be as valuable as a 401(k) or a flexible spending-account to many younger staffers.”