Sandy Torchia is vice chair of talent and culture at KPMG US and is responsible for leading all aspects of their people strategy. She collaborates closely with the leadership team to develop to implement initiatives that advance the firm’s strategy by unlocking the power of its more than 35,000 professionals, improving employee and partner experiences, and strengthening culture.
70% of Americans with at least one living parent expect to help care for their aging parents regularly in the future. Additionally, nearly half of Americans raising children under 18 are also regularly caring for their aging parents in some capacity. The pandemic and its continued impact on how we work has only exacerbated these challenges for many—particularly those trying to juggle work and caregiving. So, it’s incumbent on companies to provide supportive work environments and access to resources that can help address employees’ needs at all stages of their life’s journey.
Caregiving and parenting are not one-size-fits-all experiences but rather multi-dimensional, and the support companies provide for employees should be as well.
At KPMG, we employ a continuous listening approach to stay connected with our people and better understand the challenges they’re facing so that we can support their mental, physical, social, and financial well-being. We began deploying short, frequent surveys to assess employee sentiment and engagement regularly and are using that data to drive more effective decisions and actions to enhance the people experience.
During the pandemic, this regular feedback highlighted that our people faced challenges around resilience, with lasting effects on those raising children, caring for loved ones, or doing a combination of the two. In addition, this data helped us make benefit enhancements, including enhanced parental and caregiver support for our employees throughout their caregiving journey.
1. Support family planning: KPMG’s primary medical plan covers fertility expenses up to $35,000. Coverage waives the definition of infertility, meaning employees do not have to prove the inability to conceive to be eligible for fertility coverage. This enables same-sex female couples and women starting a family later in life access to fertility coverage right away. We also provide $35,000 for adoption and surrogacy expenses.
2. Family bonding with a newborn, adopted, or foster child: All parents, regardless of primary caregiver status, are given 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave. To create equity in parental leave policies, regardless of primary caregiver, we shifted the focus to new family bonding. This helped lay the foundation to make parental leave a firm-wide norm, encouraging more to take advantage of this benefit. In fact, at KPMG, male-identifying caregivers make up nearly half (43%) of employees who have utilized parental leave year-to-date.
3. Expert coaches to support caregiving challenges and critical life moments: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be challenging in today’s fast-paced environment, and additional dimensions exist for caregivers. We are focused on advancing our culture by caring for the whole person, so we’re as likely to talk about mental health as physical health.
We are also analyzing our current offerings around mental health. Currently, we offer 10 free counseling sessions per year through our employee assistance program (EAP) and an expanded work/life coaching program. We want to ensure these programs meet the needs of our employees while seeking ways to reduce internal company pressures and reduce burnout and other stresses on employees’ mental wellness.
In addition to our well-being benefits and support, employees can also utilize coaching services to help navigate some of the unique challenges of caregiving:
- Parent resource: All employees have unlimited access to RethinkCare, a research-based social and emotional learning resource for parents, caregivers, and children. They have 24/7 access to behavior specialists who will provide relevant support in self-awareness, decision-making, relationship skills, and behavior management. RethinkCare also offers support for those caring for a child with a learning, social or behavioral challenge or developmental disability.
- Caregiver concierge: To offer more support and flexibility to our caregivers, all employees have unlimited access to a caregiver concierge through Cariloop. Cariloop provides support from pediatric to elder care with access to a dedicated care coach to help navigate challenges. Employees and family members can speak to a licensed or certified care coach, such as a social worker, nurse, therapist, or case manager, via phone or video chat. The program also provides access to an online platform to share notes and status updates with the care coach and family members. All employees can access these benefits at no cost on their hire date.
- Educational support: To guide educational planning, we offer access to discounted tutoring, academic support, homework assistance, and college coaching for children pre-k through 12th grade. With exclusive discounts, employees can access online academic and test prep tutoring in a private or formal setting, with one-on-one and small-group options available. Additionally, we provide college coaching services through Bright Horizons college coach. This free benefit offers assistance with college selection, essay writing, and financing through informational live events, one-on-one guidance, online resources, and expert advice.
4. Caregiver emergencies: KPMG offers three weeks of fully paid leave, above and beyond PTO time, for employees who need to care for a family member. This leave may also be used for the bereavement of a family member. Additionally, as a result of our continuous listening approach, during the pandemic, we increased our benefit for backup child or elder-care sessions from 15 uses to 30 per individual at a subsidized cost through Bright Horizons, as well as access to an online care database.
5. Take breaks as a family: As part of a generous holiday calendar that provides approximately 16 firm-wide paid holidays annually, twice each year, we offer nine or more consecutive days for our people to disconnect during firm-wide breaks, alongside a generous PTO program. These consecutive breaks align with US school calendar holidays in both the summer and the winter.