After her twin boys were born in February 2004, Ann Donaghey decided to take an extended period of time off from her job as senior manager in the tax practice of Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Chicago office. Although she had been on a successful flexible work arrangement and had been promoted twice in the last six years, she found the arrival of the twins added too much to her juggling act; leaving Deloitte seemed the only alternative. Then, last June, Donaghey learned about Deloitte’s Personal Pursuits program, which allows employees who leave the workforce for up to five years to stay connected through a mentor and training opportunities. She immediately signed up. “Personal Pursuits is giving me the opportunity to be there during an important time in my children’s lives, while leaving the door open to return to Deloitte when I’m ready,” she says.
Personal Pursuits provides a host of resources to keep participants connected, skilled and up to date, including training, mentors, networking events, short-term work assignments, career coaches and resources to maintain professional licenses and professional association memberships.
Taking years off to care for children no longer means giving up career goals; Deloitte is bolstering and designing flexibility programs with the goal of retaining valuable employees like Donaghey.
“We recognize that some people in our profession are compelled to leave the workforce during the course of their careers for personal reasons,” says Cathy Benko, Deloitte Consulting LLP’s technology sector leader and national managing director of its Initiative for the Retention and Advancement of Women. “Personal Pursuits allows eligible employees to exit from the work track without breaking their ties to us or losing the skills and networks they’ll need when they’re ready to return. Helping our people meet their personal and professional goals is part of our continuous effort to build a culture where the best choose to be.”
In addition to boosting retention, the program helps Deloitte reduce the high cost of turnover. Deloitte estimates the cost of replacing an employee is at least two times salary. Personal Pursuits costs about $2,500 per year per participant, a small price to retain an employee with a strong track record.
Currently, 28 male and female alumni from 19 cities are participating in a pilot run of Personal Pursuits, which Deloitte plans to expand in 2006. In addition to people who want to spend more time with their young children, participants include some who are taking care of elderly relatives or serving in the community. “It’s great to have this program because it gives me more choices and options,” Donaghey says.
—Mai Browne, senior manager, national public relations
Deloitte Services LLP, New York