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Grant Thornton survey: Employees value flexibility over salary increases — one-third looking for new jobs

  • 40% will look for another job if forced to return to the office full time
  • 56% are looking forward to returning to the office
  • 51% would give up a salary increase for more flexibility in when and where they work
  • 40% do not feel like their voice is heard at work
  • 34% believe their manager is the most stressful part of the day

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Grant Thornton LLP, a leading professional services firm, has released a survey that helps explain why millions of people have left their jobs in recent months. The firm’s State of Work in America survey engaged more than 1,500 full-time employees of U.S. companies. Through questions about hybrid work, healthcare, culture and benefits, Grant Thornton has shone a light on what employees value — and what companies can do to retain talent.

According to the survey, the trend that experts have dubbed “The Great Resignation” may not end anytime soon: 33% of survey respondents say they are actively looking for a new job.

“There is most definitely a war for talent occurring, with an intensity unseen in recent years,” says Tim Glowa, a principal and leader of Grant Thornton’s employee listening and human capital services offerings. “Our survey finds that workers want flexibility. But ‘flexibility’ does not mean working from home 100% of the time, and physically returning to work does not mean being in the office five days a week.”

Instead, Glowa explains employees want workplaces that are understanding of responsibilities like childcare and eldercare.

“Everyone has a unique set of responsibilities outside of the office,” Glowa adds. “As companies return to the office, it will be more crucial than ever to give people the time they need to take care of what’s important at home.”

Return to work

Among those polled for Grant Thornton’s State of Work in America survey, 56% are looking forward to physically returning to the office. However, it appears the requirement to be in the office full-time is a driving factor that is motivating record resignation. According to the survey, 79% of survey respondents say they want flexibility in when and where they work, while 40% say they will look for another job if forced to return to the office full time.

“The challenge that companies face is creating an engaging experience for all employees, whether they are working in an office or remotely,” says Jennifer Morelli, a principal and leader of Grant Thornton’s Business Change Enablement practice. “Organizations need to make sure they are providing meaningful opportunities and reasons to come into the office. For example, in-person working sessions, an important meeting or a team-building event.”

Ultimately, the State of Work in America survey revealed that flexibility is perhaps one of the most desired attributes in the modern workplace. More than half (51%) of the employees interviewed by Grant Thornton say they would give up a 10%-20% salary increase for more flexibility.

“People value employers that respect their time, their family responsibilities and their work-life balance,” says Glowa. “Employers that put that respect into action are well-positioned to win the ongoing war for talent.”

Retaining talent during “The Great Resignation”

While employers have been pondering their return-to-work strategies, the benefits landscape has changed. Grant Thornton’s State of Work in America survey shows that many employees are satisfied with their benefits, but a large contingent have significant concerns over healthcare. Approximately 30% of survey respondents feel like the amount they pay for healthcare is not transparent, and they are not confident that they have chosen the best medical plan.

Grant Thornton leaders say that addressing those concerns will require both detailed communication and ongoing benefits evaluation. Through a process called ‘employee preference optimization,’ companies can find ways to enhance the benefits people use and value — and save money at the same time. Frequent check-ins and active listening are also vital, as is a concise yet effective internal communications plan that relays key benefits information.

“To better attract and retain employees — especially in a tight labor market — requires thinking like a marketing professional,” Glowa adds. “You need to understand employee pain points, then brainstorm potential solutions and benefits to address them. If you can fix that pain point, you’ve made a big difference in the eyes of employees — ideally, in a way that is difficult for competitors to replicate.”

Those concerns about healthcare also seem to have a direct impact on workplace stress. As this survey reveals, medical issues are one of the most common sources of stress, surpassed only by personal debt. Ability to retire, work-life balance and mental health round out the list of top five sources of stress. However, some of the most common pain points are directly related to workplace culture.

Almost half (45%) of survey respondents say they do not believe their employer understands their needs as an employee, and 40% say they do not feel like their voices are heard at work. Further, 34% indicate interacting with their manager is the most stressful part of the day. This could be due to management style or the sheer fact some managers don’t have the proper training.

Grant Thornton leaders emphasize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to these issues. Yet, as Glowa puts it, “thinking like a marketing professional” can lead to better value propositions for employees — and ultimately help retention. Companies may need to focus on training stronger managers, optimizing their benefits and total reward packages, or enhancing workplace culture.

But no matter what steps companies take, the State of Work in America survey indicates that the employee experience — and understanding what keeps your people up at night — must take precedence.

“There is a bright spotlight on leadership and how leaders are treating employees,” Glowa concludes. “Leaders need to walk the talk, because employees are watching closely.”

To see additional findings from Grant Thornton’s State of Work in America survey, visit www.grantthornton.com/library/articles/tax/2021/assessing-the-state-of-american-workers. To view a webcast that examines the State of Work in America survey in more detail, visit: www.grantthornton.com/events/tax/2021/10-07-the-state-of-work-in-america.

About Grant Thornton LLP

Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. Grant Thornton, which has revenues of $1.97 billion and operates more than 50 offices, works with a broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organizations.

“Grant Thornton” refers to Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions. Please see grantthornton.com for further details.

Contacts

Adam Bond

T +1 312 602 8332

E [email protected]
S twitter.com/grantthorntonus
linkd.in/grantthorntonus

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M&A surge could be a catalyst for new challenges, Grant Thornton survey finds

The survey of more than 150 dealmakers shines a light on the rise of SPACs and new kinds of earnout disputes

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–According to a recent survey by Grant Thornton LLP, the majority of merger and acquisition (M&A) dealmakers expect a surge in deal volume, especially in the technology, retail, hospitality and insurance industries.

For this survey of M&A professionals, Grant Thornton polled 44 C-suite executives, 39 private equity leaders, 40 investment bankers and 40 attorneys. Eighty-five percent of these respondents expect deal volume to stay the same or increase over the next six months. Furthermore, a potential increase in capital gains taxes will likely spur private owners to close deals before the end of 2021.

“Private equity has significant levels of capital from recent fundraising,” says Elliot Findlay, Grant Thornton’s national managing principal of Mergers and Acquisitions. “The exhaustion from COVID-19 also has some private business owners saying, ‘We weathered the storm, but I don’t want to do that again — let’s take some money off the table.’”

According to Findlay, the changing tax landscape for capital gains has created anxiety for many private business owners — especially those that are nearing an exit in the next few years.

In the survey, 86% of respondents indicate they expect to see valuations stay steady or increase in the next six months. The survey also found that high valuations will be driven by both the appetite for deals and the ongoing increase in special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).

Despite the Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent crackdown on SPACs, 89% of survey respondents predict the SPACs trend will continue or grow over the next year. Just 6% say the SPACs trend has peaked and will disappear quickly.

A rise in earnouts and disputes

The Grant Thornton survey also indicates a rise in the volume and value of earnouts — but that rise could come with some caveats. Nearly all survey respondents — a total of 94% — say they expect to use earnouts in at least 70% of their deals over the next six months.

“The volume of respondents expecting 90 to 100 percent of deals to have an earnout is staggering,” says Max Mitchell, Grant Thornton’s Purchase Agreement Advisory leader. “If they’re right, then almost every deal will have an earnout by the end of the year.”

Todd Patrick, a principal and head of Valuation and Modeling at Grant Thornton, posits that earnouts could be a natural response to the precariousness endured by businesses over the last 18 months.

“There’s so much uncertainty in the market,” Patrick says, “and earnouts are a way to mitigate that uncertainty.” Yet as this survey reveals, many businesses are evaluating the details of those earnouts. Specifically, dealmakers polled for the Grant Thornton survey say a rise in M&A volume could lead to a rise in earnout disputes.

Charles Blank, a Forensic Advisory Services managing director at Grant Thornton, says earnout disputes typically arise when a seller contests the buyer’s accounting or earnout metrics.

“Sellers have been recently challenging whether pandemic-related adjustments should be made to earnout metrics,” Blank says. “Many of the disputes happening right now relate to transactions that closed before the pandemic, when we did not have provisions in place addressing business shutdowns. We’re now in uncharted territory, where businesses and their leaders are trying to reconcile what impact those shutdowns should have on earnouts.”

Looking to the future

The seasoned dealmakers engaged for this survey conclude that foresight and responsiveness are now more important than ever.

“It’s certainly always been prudent to be as thorough as possible with valuations and earnout calculations,” adds Findlay. “But given the evolving nature of the current market, it’s vital for all dealmakers to understand the potential volatilities of their industry. You may be well-versed in the intricacies of your business right now, but you have to develop a critical understanding of how your industry will change.”

To see additional findings, trends and recommendations from Grant Thornton’s recent survey of M&A dealmakers, visit www.grantthornton.com/MandAPulseSurvey.

About Grant Thornton LLP
Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. Grant Thornton, which has revenues of $1.92 billion and operates more than 50 offices, works with a broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organizations.

“Grant Thornton” refers to Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions.

Contacts

Adam Bond

T +1 312 602 8332

E [email protected]
S twitter.com/grantthorntonus
linkd.in/grantthorntonus

Tim Glowa joins Grant Thornton to offer benefits enhancement services amidst war for talent

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Tim Glowa has joined Grant Thornton LLP as a principal and leader of the firm’s employee listening and human capital services offerings. In this role, Glowa will expand Grant Thornton’s human capital offerings by helping clients define their total rewards packages to make better business decisions about their most critical asset — their people.

A marketing leader turned human-resources consultant, Glowa has extensive experience with a wide range of analytical employee listening tools. He applies his in-depth knowledge of marketing and human resources to help save companies money and make employees happier: two goals that have arguably been overlooked.

“Tim is a proven human-resources leader with a track record of creating high-performance business solutions that simplify human-capital problems,” said Kelli Knoble, National Tax Business Lines leader at Grant Thornton. “People are the lifeblood of any successful business. Tim and his team’s approach to employee listening will be vital to our clients’ short- and long-term health — both financially and culturally. Organizations that use data and analytics to make smarter decisions about its people will attract and retain top talent.”

According to a major global study, more than 40% of the workforce is considering leaving their employer this year. This increasingly high turnover rate is the result of multiple factors, but enhanced benefits and a strong desire for flexibility are two of the main drivers.

To support the firm’s clients, Glowa employs a technique called Employee Preference Optimization. This multi-step process focuses on employee benefits. Glowa and his team measure employee preferences and sensitivities, then use detailed data modeling to show companies how they can save money and enhance their benefits.

“We’re in the middle of a war for talent,” said Glowa, “where employees are seeking companies that are truly committed to their wellbeing, while those same companies are trying to recruit the best talent possible. This is an important time for business leaders to take a fresh look and invest in their employees. They should think of employees in the same way they think of their customers and use the best analytical tools available to understand employee attitudes, needs and preferences — and then design cost-effective solutions to address those needs across all stages of the employee life cycle.”

Glowa continued by explaining the need for business leaders to consider their employees’ preferences when it comes to returning to work following the pandemic. “Many organizations are now struggling with talent attrition. This is only amplified when there is a misalignment between employee desires for increased flexibility in where they work and the organization’s focus to get back to normal. The company that strikes the right balance in finding the ‘new normal’ will come out on top.”

A published author and recognized thought leader in preference measurement and total rewards strategy development, Glowa specializes in customer and employee research, quantitative and qualitative market research, human capital analytics, marketing science, conjoint, database mining, customer segmentation, concept testing, big data, marketing analytics and total rewards optimization.

Prior to joining Grant Thornton, Glowa was a founding partner in a human capital analytics firm — and most recently served as managing director at Ernst & Young LLP. He received a master’s of business administration degree from the New York Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Calgary.

For more information on Grant Thornton’s human capital services and employee listening offerings, visit www.grantthornton.com/human-capital-services. And to learn more about the war for talent and approaches to satisfy changing workforce needs, visit www.grantthornton.com/war-for-talent.

About Grant Thornton LLP

Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. Grant Thornton, which has revenues of $1.92 billion and operates more than 50 offices, works with a broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organizations.

“Grant Thornton” refers to Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions. Please see grantthornton.com for further details.

Contacts

Adam Bond

T +1 312 602 8332

E [email protected]
S twitter.com/grantthorntonus
linkd.in/grantthorntonus