Internally, we often liken Plante Moran to an orchard. It has “trees” (or clients and staff) that have been planted at different times, bear different kinds of fruit, and have different lifespans. When new staff come to the firm, they have the benefit of capturing the fruit from trees that were planted before them and the duty to plant new ones. We call this stewardship.
At the spring partner meeting, we revisited the orchard theme via a couple of videos. We’ve since shared them throughout the firm and with our retired partners. I wouldn’t normally share an internal video externally, but one of them is so moving—and such a great testament to our culture—that I’ve decided to make an exception.
This 3.5-minute video features Former Managing Partner Bill Hermann, Current Partner Bob Reinhart, Chief Financial Officer Dan Trotta, and their children, all of whom have come to work at Plante Moran. One of them, Kori Reinhart, even holds up the Plante Moran onesie the firm gave her dad as a gift when she was born and jokes that, in her case, we began recruiting early!
We often compare ourselves to a family, but sometimes what’s metaphorical becomes very literal. At Plante Moran, we have parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and even a few sets of twins. We’re proud of these families and our legacy.
How about you? Do you have family members working together at your organization? Have you found it to be beneficial? While we’re aware of issues that may arise with family members working at the same organization, we believe the rewards of attracting outstanding staff members outweigh the risks that can be easily managed. What do you think?
Recently, we received two “best workplace” awards focused on specific generations of staff. Crain’s Chicago Business named us the No. 1 place to work for the Gen X generation, whose birth dates span the 1960s through the early 1980s. Shortly thereafter, FORTUNE magazine named our firm one of the “100 Best Workplaces for Millennials (a.k.a. “Gen Y”),” a generation that encompasses staff born between the mid-1980s and the late 1990s. Both lists are the result of anonymous, confidential staff surveys—which makes these awards all the more meaningful. So what do we do to create a great place for these different generations?
While there are differences between Gen Xers and Millennials (Millennials tend to be more passionate about new technologies, for example), we’ve found that there are also striking similarities. For example:
- Both require work-life balance. This is the No. 1 priority for both generations, so we do our best to make sure our staff have it. We even have a WorkFlex Committee dedicated to identifying challenges and proposing solutions. We have a generous paid-time-off (PTO) policy, and we encourage our leaders to set a good example. (If staff see their leaders working all the time, they may feel reluctant to take advantage of PTO.) We do our best to accommodate flexible schedules. And we make work-life balance a part of the annual review process. All staff are required to answer whether or not they feel like they’re achieving the right work-life balance and, if the answer is “no,” we address it.
- Both appreciate social activities that promote relationships outside of the office. One of the great things about being a “relatively jerk-free” firm is that we genuinely like spending time with each other, inside and outside of work. Structured team outings are common, whether an afternoon at a baseball game, a gathering at a team partner’s house, or bocce ball at a local Italian restaurant. Unstructured outings—birthday parties, weddings, or just evenings out—are even more common. One Millennial staff member said it best: “I don’t have ‘work friends’; I work with my friends.”
- Both want to make a difference. One recent study said that 85 percent of Millennials believe their work is part of who they are; they identify with where they work and what they do—it’s not just a means to an end. We’ve found that to be true for all of our staff. When you focus your time and effort for 40+ hours a week, you want it to mean something. We work hard to create an environment that’s challenging and meaningful and that affords staff a variety of experiences to hone their skills
Something else we believe is that accounting tends to attract people who value structured feedback, mentoring opportunities, and a relatively clear career path. Our staff—Millennials and Gen Xers alike—tell us they appreciate that they can see where they’ll be (if they put in the effort) 5, 10, or even 15 years from now. They know what’s expected, and they appreciate this lack of ambiguity about their futures.
What about you? Do you do anything special to create a great workplace for Gen X or Gen Y? And do you see a significant difference between the two?