A young Korean immigrant named Amy is heading back to work in central London. She is meeting two new prospective clients in the afternoon, but she was able to take a long lunch in order to stop by (where: School? Nursery? Home?) and check up on her young daughter. After doing risk and needs assessments for the new companies, both of whom are seeking advice on new IT strategies for their fledgling corporations, she has to go to school. This isn’t a university; it is an on-site training module she has been working through for the past 3 months, a necessary step for her to continue on her path towards departmental management. She expects to achieve the lofty position in less than 4 years, two of which will be spent in Switzerland or Italy at the branch offices there. She decides on her way into the elevator that she will send an e-mail to the regional vice president about how her progress is going and ask when the next round of foreign exchanges is planned. She wants to make sure that it coincides with the start of a school year for her daughter.
This story could be from any of the more than 167,000 employees that work at Ernst and Young, the third largest professional services firm on the planet. It is also considered one of the “Big 4” accounting firms in the world, providing financial and advisory services all around the globe. Many people hesitate to associate large corporations in financial fields with being particularly “happy” and yet somehow, Ernst and Young (now known by the shorter “EY”) is consistently voted as the best accounting firm to work for in the world, and it ranks prominently in terms of Places to Launch A Career From (# 1 in 2008), Global Top Employers (# 3 in 2011), and Best Companies to Work For (# 57 in 2012). This list of accolades and nods of approval from top evaluators, such as Forbes and Fortune Magazine, could go on further into the past. The point is: something that this analysis and advisory corporation is doing seems to be working.
It makes sense that EY knows how to run a successful and happy workplace; that is one of the services that they provide to corporations in any of the 140 countries in which they maintain more than 700 active offices. They have a trained team of specialists that can survey employee productivity, corporate spending, investment portfolios, infrastructure, technological synergy, and leadership style. They will then suggest anything from minor renovations to drastic overhauls of current systems, in order to streamline productivity, promote efficiency, save money, downsize, or expand, depending on the end goals of a given company. It would be quite nonsensical if the firm asking people to trust their advice was unable to ensure its own people were happy and well taken care of in a stimulating and innovative environment.
EY is keenly aware of one specific fact that sets them apart from competitors within their industry and in many other industries, as well. Their employees are the most important assets that they have, and they will do almost anything to keep those assets from slipping away. They are primarily a financial institution, so they have a deep respect for value and an ingrained ability to balance gain and loss. Therefore, they have created a magnetic culture of transparency, communication, advancement, and opportunity, which draws in premium talent from all over the globe and then provides the tools for those same talented individuals to enhance their skills and move forward or laterally within the company.