Marge Mayerson knows how to stay ahead of the curve. Across her forty-year tenure with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a multinational firm known for being one of the world’s Big Four auditors, Mayerson and her team have sought to implement benefit programs well before others thought to do the same. Dental plans weren’t always standard benefits, nor were nursing programs for new moms, but, thanks to Mayerson, the managing director of national benefits, and her team, they have become a staple of PwC’s benefits package.
“We’re all about caring for one another, and we want to give our employees the tools and resources to care for themselves,” Mayerson says.
She has seen the firm through numerous changes across her career, most notably during a merger between Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse in 1998. Still, she asserts that the firm’s values have remained intact through it all. “As a firm, we foundationally want to build trust in society and solve important problems,” she says. “We care about each other, we work together, we act with integrity, and we want to make a difference in the world. I think that those four tenets are the values that have never stopped being a part of the organization.”
Those values, she explains, have given way to a “high-performing” culture that’s constantly reinventing itself while providing rewarding work for its employees. “There’s a lot expected,” she says, “but you get a lot in return.”
Part of that is the benefits. Though she’s had a hand in implementing everything from PwC’s vision care plan to its 401(k), Mayerson says one of the initiatives that sparked a personal passion for her was the New Moms Nursing Program. It came about, she explains, after an employee had premature twins and found herself struggling to produce milk while the children were in the ICU.
“It was horrible,” Mayerson says. “But as a result of her experience, we implemented this program to support nursing moms long before those programs were commonplace.”
The New Moms Nursing Program allows access to a lactation consultant prior to birth, as well as a free, top-of-the-line breast pump, access to lactation nurses, and the comfort of nursing rooms within the office. Now these kinds of programs have become normalized, but Mayerson explains that PwC continues to stand out due to the personalized care of its nurses and the high quality of the pump it provides.
Another program of which Mayerson and her team are particularly proud is also one they’re currently working to revamp. The Well-Being Rewards program began in 2008, and, as its name suggests, offered employees incentives in return for getting preventive exams, medical coaching, and engaging in physical activity and community programs. Now, with the prevalence of wearable fitness devices, Mayerson is aiming to tailor the program to better address current advancements in the fitness arena. Other additions to the program include a component incorporating social media, as well as a way to better distribute rewards within these areas.
The Well-Being Rewards program is perhaps the best representation of what is a recurring theme throughout PwC’s numerous employee benefits programs: people are responsible for their own health and well-being. This extends not just to physical health, but also financial health.
“When you look at employee benefits, they’re really about helping people to protect themselves,” Mayerson says. “To protect themselves against illness, but also financially in retirement. Our life insurance, too, is there to protect yourself against risk.”
That protection, however, comes with responsibility. “There’s a huge component of personal responsibility to our programs,” she says. “I think we’ve tried to educate people so that they can take care of themselves and their families and have that ability to make a difference not only in their life, but in the lives of their families, their community, and society as a whole.”
That directly coincides with another financial-based program that helps address student loan repayment. Mayerson speaks highly of PwC’s relationship with Gradifi—a leader in employee-based student loan repayment—as part of the student loan paydown benefit. Having collaborated with Gradifi, PwC employees can receive up to $1,200 per year for up to six years that is paid directly to their student loans. Mayerson says PwC was one of the first major companies to incorporate such a benefit for its employees, as the company recognized that student debt has grown into a major issue in society. It also ties directly in with the company’s purpose: to solve important problems.
“PwC recognized early on that student loans are a financial burden and source of stress for young employees,” says Meera Oliva, chief marketing officer at Gradifi. “By offering this benefit, they’ve raised the bar on what it means to invest in your employees’ financial well-being.”
Mayerson says there’s another area in which PwC is working to protect employees, and that’s digitally. “We just implemented an identity theft monitoring program, which we’re offering for free to all of our employees and partners,” she says. “We’re concerned about technology and people using technology appropriately and being digitally savvy. We’re helping employees understand the risks involved and appropriately protecting the security of what’s out there within the digital media space.”
“There are a lot of risk protection programs,” she continues, “and this is just one more evolving area in which the firm felt it was important to provide a trusted source for our employees to protect themselves against the risks of what’s happening out there in the cyber world.”
That’s a lot to manage, especially in a firm that’s blossomed from 1,000 to 3,500 partners and 12,000 to 45,000 employees during Mayerson’s tenure. But this is the benefit of having someone who’s been with the firm for so long at the helm. Programs like these don’t roll out overnight; they take years of development and refinement.
In helping roll out these programs, Mayerson credits the team with whom she’s worked tirelessly throughout the years.
“It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the amazing contribution that all of those people have made to my success, as well as to the success of PricewaterhouseCoopers,” she says. “I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to have spent my career here.”
Photo by Keith Barraclough