By Jason Bramwell
BDO USA LLP and Ernst & Young LLP were among twenty-five companies that were included in the Best Places to Work for Recent Grads 2013 report from ConnectEDU Inc., a technology company committed to transitioning learners from school to college to career.
Since 2007, Experience, a ConnectEDU company, has compiled the list of employers from across the country based on excellence in recruiting, hiring, and retaining young professionals.
The winners were selected by comparing employer survey responses to research on what recent graduates prioritize when selecting a place to work. The selection criteria for 2013 included the following:
- Benefits (such as salary and perks)
- Career advancement opportunities
- Work/life balance
Chicago-based public accounting and consulting services firm BDO USA, which also made the list in 2010 and 2011, was included in this year's list because of its culture, opportunities for development, and total rewards program, which are all designed to enrich the professional and personal lives of its employees, according to ConnectEDU.
"BDO USA is committed to recruiting the best and brightest professionals to serve our clients", Hang Bower, BDO USA executive director of human resources, told AccountingWEB. "We accomplish this by providing outstanding career paths for our employees and giving them the right work/life fit for them to succeed at work while maintaining a quality home life. Recognition from ConnectEDU is important because it raises awareness of BDO USA as an employer of choice and as a leading innovator on how businesses can thrive in the new flexible workplace."
ConnectEDU cited three reasons why BDO USA is among the best places to work for young professionals:
- BDO Flex allows employees to better manage their work/life fit so their needs and the needs of the business are aligned.
- National and international secondments provide professionals with opportunities to gain work experience in different locales, share best practices among offices, and develop personal and professional skills.
- BDO L.I.F.E., BDO USA's firm-wide wellness program, offers health education and valuable resources, including quarterly wellness competitions, to help employees improve their overall well-being.
"Another key is a very successful program we began seven years ago called Pathway to Success", Bower said. "Each year, we invite fast-rising juniors from targeted universities around the country to spend a week with BDO leadership and professionals to learn about a career in accounting. Students are chosen based on recommendations from accounting professors and criteria that match recruits with a profile of the type of individual who succeeds at BDO. This has allowed us to build an early bond with potential recruits and gives the students a valuable look into what their future career might look like."
New York–based Big Four firm Ernst & Young told ConnectEDU that its employees are the most important assets of the firm.
"Without the people, we would not be able to work well with our clients, so the focus is to keep employees happy in an effort to provide the best work to our clients and be the best in the market", the firm said.
Dan Black, Americas director of campus recruiting at Ernst & Young, told AccountingWEB the firm is honored to be ranked as a top place to work for college graduates.
"This ranking is a testament to Ernst & Young's talented recruiters, unique recruiting initiatives, inclusive and flexible workplace culture, and vast opportunities for our young professionals to build their skills and experiences", he said.
Four Keys to Enticing College Grads
ConnectEDU offers these four tips on what companies can do to make themselves more desirable for college graduates:
1. Retain young talent with long-term opportunities. What gets employees to stick around, even when they're young and considering career changes or graduate school? The best companies all point toward long-term development to improve both recruitment and retention. Among the twenty-five companies on the list, 96 percent offer mentorship programs to new hires in order to help them navigate their way up the corporate ladder. Beyond mentorship, 68 percent offer formal leadership-development training programs specifically designed to build future company managers and leaders.
Based on the retention rates of the top respondents, investing in the long-term development of young talent pays off. The average entry-level employee stays at least three years at fifteen of the twenty-five best places to work, ten of which report an average retention rate of four or more years.
2. Perks are a main attraction. While having an avenue to advance within a company can be a reason for newly graduated employees to come aboard or stick around, benefits are another huge boon – and top companies are getting more competitive with their packages. The twenty-five companies offer an average of fifteen days of vacation to entry-level employees, and 88 percent give entry-level workers at least five to six sick days each year.
Days off aren't the only draw. Seventy-two percent offer retirement benefits to employees, while nearly 64 percent give their workers the option of continuing education or training. About 44 percent have tuition reimbursement programs for those employees who choose to take advantage of the continued education perk.
3. Corporate culture appeals to best-fit talent. According to the survey, 96 percent of the top companies reported they cultivate a "team-oriented" culture, and 80 percent freely called theirs "fun." How do these businesses nurture good times? Many organize optional social events in and outside of the office to build team rapport, such as holiday parties, casual athletic leagues, and trivia nights.
But good interoffice culture transcends nonwork activities. It's also about creating a driving force toward company goals. For instance, 60 percent of top companies describe their culture as mission oriented.
4. Recent grads seek work/life balance. Companies can leverage their culture to bring "life" into the workplace, but they also must realize recent grads value their personal lives. Establishing such a working environment can help companies and employees both meet their needs. Nearly 76 percent of the top companies described their working environments as "work hard/play hard" – fostering employee satisfaction in the office and at home.
At the same time, savvy companies leverage the drive and energy of recent grads, but don't let them burn out. The twenty-five companies work their entry-level employees a maximum of fifty hours per week. There are specific perks the employers can offer employees to help promote that ideal work/life balance, too. For example, 44 percent provide access to fitness or wellness programs, and 36 percent allow their employees to have flexible schedules. This kind of thinking is great for both retention and recruiting.
About the survey:
The Best Places to Work for Recent Grads 2013 survey was conducted from February through April and garnered responses from more than 300 employers from across the country.