P&A Grant Thornton News

Making corporate culture count in recovery

P&A Grant Thornton's newly opened satellite office at Vertis North in Quezon City offers employees residing north of Metro Manila a shorter commute to work.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has been like an ebbing tide for many businesses. When the waters receded, they found what lay beneath.

For Jun Cuaresma, managing partner and chief operating officer at P&A Grant Thornton, corporate culture is what will hold an organization together even when time and tides change.

This has never been more important than in the present business environment where companies have resorted to remote work due to strict lockdowns, he said. Many are now facing newfound challenges in fostering teamwork, tracking productivity and motivating people, among others.

"Fortunately, even before the pandemic, P&A Grant Thornton has already been investing in capabilities that will enable us to deal with these challenges," said Cuaresma, who also heads People and Culture Group of the 33-year old audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firm.

One of these is enabling more than 1,100 partners and staff across its nationwide network to work from home (WFH).

When the lockdowns were enforced in March 2020, the firm easily adopted to the new work environment, as a work of-Base policy has already been in place and laptops with internet connectivity have already been provided to all professional staff, which comprise about 90 percent of the workforce.

To enhance the WFH environment, the firm raised the "communication allowance" given to employees for using their devices for internet connectivity and office-related calls and released a onetime "remote work subsidy" to cover furniture and other WFH essentials.

For staff members who still prefer to work in an office environment, the firm designed a hotel-like reservation system so employees can reserve office space before their visit. In addition, P&A opened a new satellite office at Vertis North in Quezon City, the latest addition to its string offices in Makati, Cavite, Cebu and Davao. Cuaresma said the company's investment over the years in making its information technology infrastructure more robust have also started pay off during this pandemic. The firm has been using cloud-based systems for human resource (HR) services and job performance evaluation.

Of late, it has been harnessing digital technology to improve employee experiences so staff can feel valued and included even as they are outside the workplace. Among the digital tools P&A recently launched are artificial intelligence-powered HR assistants "Pat and Annie" that can respond to employees' queries.

While the WFH setup is leading to greater productivity, the firm acknowledged these gains can also come at a cost to people's mental health and well-being. To help employees cope with personal anxiety, P&A gave free access to consultation with a psychologist, in addition to its telehealth consultation benefit. The firm also launched a free vaccination program to all personnel to support the government's goal of reaching herd immunity against the pandemic.

"Now, more than ever, we are realizing that people are the most important asset of a company. Their health and well-being will be a major focus area for any organization that is aiming to transform into a modern workforce." said Cuaresma.

 

As published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, dated 03 May 2021