Extended overseas remote working on offer for Big Four employees

28 November 2021 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read

In the latest round of Big Four human resources measures to retain staff amid a severe talent crunch, Deloitte and KPMG are set to offer employees extended overseas working holidays.

The vibe at backpacker hostels around the world may be about to change with young Australian accountants employed at professional service firms Deloitte and KPMG given permission to work remotely from overseas for extended periods. Together with a number of other new perks on offer, the move represents yet another entry on an increasingly long list of human resources measures instituted by the Big Four in their recent battle for talent.

With a skills shortage already growing in Australia and at the global level prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, the talent scramble has only intensified since, exacerbated by Australia’s long-closed international borders cutting off skilled migrant supply. While next month’s reopening of borders might have been expected to bring some relief from the squeeze, young Australian professionals are also keen to exercise their newly-granted global freedom.

Big Four are making extended overseas remote working a possibility

What’s been termed the ‘Great Resignation’ as a response to the pandemic is looking like it might just as much be the ‘Great Exchange’ (it’s been reported that trained Australian accountants and consultants are in particularly high demand in places such as the UK, North America and parts of Asia, all suffering from their own chronic staff shortages), with both sizeable expatriate inflows and outflows. The latter however is expected to far outstrip the former.

In a bid to retain talent and slow a potential permanent exodus of defections to branches and rivals overseas, yet still cater to understandably itchy feet, Deloitte has informed its 10,000-plus Australian staff that an extended working holiday is on the cards to countries such as the UK, Singapore and India, although due to current travel and visa complexities the full details as to the length of stays and available destinations has yet to be finalised.

And it seems Deloitte CEO Adam Powick is intending to sign up for the offer himself; “We have had a lot of feedback from our partners and staff about their desire to travel overseas when the borders reopen, with a particular focus on reuniting with friends and family,” he told the AFR. “I acutely understand this desire as [my wife] Jane and I are planning to head to London over the New Year’s break to spend time with our youngest daughter.”

KPMG, too, is now offering its employees a similar opportunity to work in another country when visiting overseas family and friends, on top of the recently introduced policies designed to provide greater workplace flexibility. According to the firm’s People & Inclusion national managing partner Dorothy Hisgrove, the latest policy will generally see overseas working arrangements for staff approved for on average six consecutive weeks.

Inbound staff

On the flip-side, it was reported last week that KPMG is waiting on the arrival of international auditing recruits from Asia, Europe, North America and South Africa to help bolster its stocks, with its Big Four rivals also engaged in an international recruitment drive. According to the Australian, Deloitte has already secured over 100 new international workers for the coming months, with the same number slated to commence at Ernst & Young.

“We currently have more than 100 people due to arrive at EY in January after visa issues are finalised,” EY Assurance managing partner Glenn Carmody told the publication. “As a global firm we are also in active discussions with our other offices to facilitate both in and outbound secondments as our borders reopen. We want to provide those international experiences for our people – something they haven’t been able to do for two years.”