WTP Advisors Finds That Employee Perks Pay Off

Info on how benefits affect quality of work.

Does unlimited vacation; a liberal telecommuting policy; medical and dental coverage with no co-pays; employee awards trips; and every day free snacks and shoeshines sound too good to be true? (Did we mention the unlimited vacation?) It’s not. These perks, and others, are all now available to the employees of White Plains-based WTP Advisors, a global tax advisory and consulting firm. 

The firm greatly boosted its employee benefits this year, continuing its efforts to create an uncommonly employee-friendly culture in an industry (professional services) with notoriously brutal work schedules and high turnover rates. “We want to adopt policies that make the most sense for self-starting, motivated, and highly independent employees,” says Michael Minihan, partner and co-founder of WTP Advisors, who notes that “micromanagement” is a dirty word at WTP.

The perks package has also helped the company appeal to younger workers, who are not strictly salary-driven, Minihan adds. “For this new generation of workers, compensation is only part of the equation. So we’ve had to be really creative about how to attract and retain top talent,” he explains.

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But don’t expect to find WTP employees hitting the beach all the time. Because employees go through such an intensive vetting process before being hired, the firm isn’t worried about abuse of the unlimited vacation policy. In fact, 60- or 70-hour workweeks are common.

“Once you get the right people in the organization, the need to micromanage time off dissipates,” Minihan explains. “And it seems inconsistent to ask employees to work three weekends in a row and then give them a hard time about taking a day off if they don’t have it in their ‘bank.’” This flexibility has been well received by employees, Minihan says, but admits that the policy went into effect January 1, which is the start of the company’s busiest season. “So until the spring compliance season is over, we won’t really have a good idea of how [unlimited vacation] works in practice,” he says.

The firm has also expanded its Global Experience program, which affords employees the opportunity to work in foreign offices alongside its affiliates to gain international experience. With 40 offices in 29 countries globally, employees can do a six- to eight-week stint in countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Russia, Cypress, Mexico, South Korea and many others, as part of a client assignment. “If you have a desire to go someplace, we’ll work with you to figure out a way to get you to work on assignments there,” says Minihan.

While such lush perks are certainly costly for WTP to offer, Minihan firmly believes it is worth it. “We are committed to making WTP a best-in-class place to work, so I think the benefits will far outweigh the costs in the long term. It is so expensive to bring employees in, recruit them, train them, get them up to speed and then lose them,” he explains.

Additional WTP employee perks include:

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·Professional Development Program: WTP pays employee expenses associated with seminars and/or classes that are not part of a degree program (covered under tuition reimbursement), CPA study courses and exam fees, bar exam fees, and costs associated with the upkeep of job-related professional certifications and/or licensing.

·New Hire Acclimation Period: During the first month of hire, WTP gives new hires no specific assignments so employees can take this time to get acclimated with their new environment and co-workers, as well as WTP policies and procedures.

·Work from anywhere: WTP offers a liberal telecommuting policy. Employees are given all the necessary tools and equipment (including company cell phones enabled with hot spots) to work almost anywhere they want. “When you walk in the door here, you get all the technology you need to be accessible anywhere,” Minihan says.

·Partner Dinners: To support its commitment to an open-door policy for all staff to the partners, the partners hold dinner meetings or “get-togethers” with small groups of staff on a quarterly basis.

·Top Employee Awards:  Twice per year, WTP awards a trip for two to Arizona (WTP owns a vacation house there) to its top-performing employee.

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