Episode 134.5 – Green Apple Slice


A Burnout Culture Led to Record Attrition at PwC. So It Changed Its Approach


The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or an Android app.

This week, John and Rachel discuss a Fortune article, “A Burnout Culture Led to Record Attrition at PwC. So It Changed Its Approach” by Andrew Nusca.


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    Good morning and happy Monday. It’s John Garrett coming to you with another episode of Green Apple Slices. I’m super excited because I get to get on an airplane in just a couple of minutes, honestly, I’m going to be leaving for the airport to fly to Toronto to speak at Sage Sessions. Yes! Rachel Fisch will be there.

    Rachel: I will be there.

    John: We’ll be hanging out tomorrow for all the Sage people. So yes, my partner in crime every Monday for the Green Apple Slices. She’s the Accountant Groups — I can’t even talk because it’s so early in the morning. Accountants Group Leader for Canada in Sage, something like that. It’s all those words mix them up, Rachel Fisch.

    Rachel: Hey, John. I think that’s probably the worst introduction ever.

    John: Yes. But I’m excited to get there and speak at another Sage Sessions event. The first two have been so much fun. This is the first one in Canada so we’re going to do it up.

    Rachel: We’re going to show the U.S. Sage Sessions how to do it.

    John: But for everybody that listens, every Wednesday, I do a one-on-one interview with a different person who’s got a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work and if that’s you or someone you know, please let me know. Every Monday, Rachel and I always talk through an article that we find online about employee engagement or culture or work-life balance, things like that. This week, I found an article on Fortune. It was A Burnout Culture Led to Record Attrition at PwC.

    Rachel: You might know a thing or two about PwC.

    John: Yeah. In my exit interview, I might’ve brought some of these up.

    Rachel: I don’t think burnout is maybe the word that you want describing your culture.

    John: Right. Well, you know what? It was. It talked about a year I mean just how — the Big Four environment and PwC was definitely right there in the mix with all of this but it was just you know, it’s work-life balance and work was in all caps and then life was in an eight size font.

    Rachel: Subscript, yeah. What I thought was really interesting about this one is that they were surveying people that were coming out of a certain university and they were talking about — so it was 44,000 employees conducted with the University of Southern California and London Business School, blah, blah, blah. It was specifically targeted towards millennials.

    What I thought was really interesting is that what the survey was showing was not that they were not committed to work. It wasn’t even that they didn’t want to work long hours, it’s that they didn’t want to work those long hours chained to a desk all day. That’s it. They’re not afraid of working hard or long or whatever you need to be successful in your role however that’s determined. They just don’t want to have to sit at a desk to do it.

    John: Right, yeah. But I mean here’s the thing, and this is the thing that I’ve been saying all along is that non-millennial employees felt the same way. It’s just that the millennials were more likely to say something about it to voice their objections. I get so frustrated when I hear people talk about well, the millennials this and the millennials that. I’m like I feel the same way.

    Rachel: Right. Here’s the thing, is that I don’t think it changes work results terribly much. I don’t think it costs a lot of money to kind of free that up a little bit. Some cases, companies who do kind of the remote culture or flexible work and stuff like that actually are able to reduce their overhead through office spending because people aren’t at the office quite so much. I think you do need to make sure that you’re finding ways to connect in different ways.

    John: In person too, yeah.

    Rachel: Right, and that you still stay connected and things like that. There’s still some expectation to collaborate with co-workers and things like that. I don’t think it could be kind of a lone wolf but I also don’t think that it costs financially and it could actually benefit.

    John: Right. I love the quote at the end here from someone at PwC, people could work from home or leave early on Tuesdays and the company wouldn’t collapse.

    Rachel: What? No. That’s not true.

    John: That’s what they say. That’s what they say. But that’s just so funny to me how just the old world way of thinking, it’s harder to manage. You just have to make sure that you delegate enough work to those people to keep them busy and you can tell pretty easily. The other thing that PwC is doing that’s really cool too is their Discover program for people that are promoted form associate to senior associate.

    Normally, firms wait until you’re a manager or even above that to give you some training. But when you go from associate to senior associate, they actually give you some training. It’s kind of a retreat thing where they bring in some outside coaches to talk about self and community and family and career. So it’s kind of the Green Apple message going on there. Don’t use yourself in all of this even though you go promoted and you have more responsibility. You still need to take care of yourself and be a part of the world around you.

    Rachel: I think we might have an article coming up in the next week or two about that.

    John: Well, cool. Well, that’s it everybody. I got to get on this plane or I’m going to miss my flight. Everyone, have a great week and everyone that’s going to be at Sage Sessions at Toronto, can’t wait to say hi. That includes you, Rachel. So I’ll see you soon.

    Rachel: See you later.

    John: Bye-bye.

    Rachel: Okay. Bye.

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