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How Top Professional Firms Put Employee Development First

Chinwe Onyeagoro  

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Chinwe Onyeagoro

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February 16, 2017

How Top Professional Firms Put Employee Development First

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No one becomes a lawyer, public accountant or business consultant without a healthy love for learning. People in professional services aren’t just expected to stay ahead of trends in their industries; their level of knowledge is a kind of personal currency that adds value to their businesses and careers.

So, it’s no surprise that our Best Workplaces in Professional Services & Consulting, recently published in Fortune, make the most of employees’ interests and aspirations within their jobs.

How are they doing it? Here are some of the key findings our Great Place to Work team uncovered.

  1. Investing in education

    Leading firms are putting a new twist on tuition reimbursement – helping to pay for degrees earned before team members even joined the workforce. Student loan repayment assistance is offered by both PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. The latter even offers a program to refinance educational debt at a lower interest rate.

    Practices like these are an effective way for organizations to say “we value what you know.” Plus, it pays off. Professional services employees who told Great Place to Work they’re happy with their organizations’ education and development programs were 3 times more likely to say they plan to stay with their companies for the long term. They were also twice as likely to say they’re willing to give extra at work. Given the significant upfront spending at these firms on signing bonuses, relocation reimbursements, and onboarding resources, any investment that meaningfully impacts retention is just plain “smart money”.

  2. Informal learning, serious benefits

    Some of the best lessons for career growth take place outside the classroom. At Indeed, employees lead quarterly networking forums to discuss topics like inspirational leadership, unconscious bias and building a personal brand. The co-workers behind this popular job website can also sign-up for facilitator-led programs on time management, giving better presentations and other soft skills. Or, if pressed for time, they can simply login to an e-learning platform and absorb 2-minute video lessons on more than 100 topics.

    According to one team member, Indeed offers “so much room for growth. So many opportunities, and they encourage movement across different departments and offices. They care about us as employees, and they want us to excel in the job that best fits our skill set.”

  3. Pay it forward

    Like many of its peers in law, Alston & Bird takes on pro bono cases. But this firm takes the practice one step further by connecting its lawyers with projects that align with their specific professional goals and interests. That could mean extra time in the courtroom for first-year associates or the chance to build leadership skills and professional connections during charity initiatives. Says one Alston & Bird employee, “Pro bono work is chosen related to your passion. We bring our interest in helping to serve the community to the office and form teams to work together on things that matter most to us.”

    Community service fuels employee pride, offers relevant exposure, and skill building at exceptional employers. At the Best Workplaces in Professional Services, a staggering 94 percent of employees say they’re proud to tell others about their companies.

Encouraging an engaged, enriching work environment also influences how employees feel about their workplace overall. The bottom line? The most successful professional services organizations are speeding ahead and increasing the return on their talent attraction and management investments by supporting their people to continually learn and advance their careers.

Chinwe Onyeagoro
Chinwe Onyeagoro

Chinwe Onyeagoro is President of Great Place to Work®. She works with multi-billion dollar technology, telecom, financial services, and bio-pharma companies to successfully execute business strategy by developing high-trust, high performance cultures. She has worked for two top management consultancies (McKinsey & Company and The Monitor Group – acquired by Deloitte in 2013). She serves on the boards of private equity firms and lending institutions that have invested over a $1 Billion in small and medium enterprises that create good jobs in communities.