Staff at PA Consulting are thirsty for high-profile projects — one of the company’s recent successes has been to design the Evian Action water bottle for people on the go.
One of Britain’s leading consultancies, it has almost 4,000 employees in 40 offices worldwide, who together own the firm. Ernest Butten set up the business, in 1943,
so that the shares of the limited company would be held in trust for the benefit of its employees.
“You have it in your own power to generate the growth and the benefits which will flow to you from it,” he told the workforce in 1962.
People still see direct rewards for the hard work they put in — principal consultants, the largest group, are paid £50,000 a year and everyone is entitled to a bonus. Last year the firm distributed £40m among its 1,844 staff, with a top award of £1.1m.
Staff can buy shares with deferred elements of bonus, and 80% own them. The firm, which advises clients on management, systems and technology, has also used its venture capital arm to establish successful start-ups (often on the basis of employee suggestions), taking British revenues to £400m last year. It is expanding in America and has a partnership in China.
Employees say they work hard for this success — the firm records the second-lowest score (54%) for happiness with the balance of personal and professional life. However, 79% of employees say work is an important part of their lives. There is a good team feeling — 82% of staff have confidence in the abilities of their workmates and 76% say they go out of their way to help. Communication between managers and staff is good and just under four in five say managers are open and honest, and that they trust their team’s judgment.
Benefits, praised by two-thirds of staff, include private health insurance that includes family members, life insurance of four times salary and a pension scheme where staff put in 3% of salary and the firm adds 5% for the under-35s and 8% for the over-35s. At the London and Cambridge office, there is a company gym, a subsidised canteen and free fruit and hot drinks. There is also a company doctor in London and a first-aid room. The firm is family-friendly too, offering flexible hours, homeworking and job sharing.
Number of Staff:
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Under 35 to Over 55 Ratio: