Image via Unspash.

All year, we look forward to the summer months to take a break and make plans with family and friends. But these days, it’s not uncommon to be attached to our smartphones, checking email, or keeping up with what you may be missing back at the office.  

David Leiter is the KPMG Atlanta office managing partner.

As we navigate our work-life balance, sometimes disconnecting without FOMO seems impossible. Whether it’s taking time off to travel, spending time with friends or loved ones, focusing on hobbies, or simply taking a break, it’s important to fully unplug from work, devote time to wellness, and prioritize our mental well-being. Here are three ways KPMG is helping its people recharge and make the most of summer:

  1. Provide opportunities for employees to set boundaries and take breaks. Each year, KPMG U.S. provides two week-long breaks. Our firm annually closes for the full week of July 4, giving employees at least nine consecutive days to disconnect. These breaks allow our people to truly unplug and fully relax, recharge, and focus on spending time with family and friends. Throughout the week, they don’t have to worry about missing any meetings or work events, and, when they come back, their inbox is not overflowing. They can enjoy the extended period without many of the stressors that often come with traditional paid time off.

    On top of the week-long summer break, we also offer weekend “jumpstarts,” allowing employees to end work early on Fridays between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. This break complements our firm’s no-camera Fridays, which provides a more relaxed transition to the weekend and reduces the stress of appearing on camera.
  1. Create opportunities for intentional connection and collaboration. We believe a hybrid workforce has the potential to sustain deeper connections among employees and leaders, creating new and lasting relationships that will deliver a competitive edge. A hybrid work model combines flexibility with connectivity in a way that helps employees collaborate and develop. At KPMG, our hybrid work model — called Flex with Purpose — enables us to make strong interpersonal connections while moving away from a rigid, one-size-fits-all approach to work.

    We also provide opportunities outside of the office to gather with colleagues and give back to our community. On Aug. 1, we hostedour annual firmwide Community Impact Day. On this day, KPMG offices around the country, including our three offices here in Atlanta, will collaborate with local nonprofits to spend time volunteering in our communities. This day of service builds on the success of last year’s Community Impact Day, which celebrated KPMG U.S.’ 125th anniversary and saw our KPMG professionals come together to honor our firm’s long standing legacy and support more than 450 nonprofits across the country.
  1. Build a culture of understanding, where mental wellness can be openly discussed. We are working to create an environment where we openly discuss mental health the same way we do physical health. For example, throughout May, we recognized Mental Health Awareness Month and hosted local and firm-wide events to support our people’s well-being. This included a firm-wide mental health break to pause and recharge, after a virtual session hosted by a notable mental health advocate. 

    We’re also increasing awareness of our resources and sharing personal stories about our peoples’ mental health journeys, recognizing that Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are typically underutilized due to a lack of awareness as well as stigma around using these services. We have recently expanded our EAP to provide more free counseling sessions and are piloting a program called “EAP test drive”, where we ask managers to test and experience the confidential service that connects employees to mental health resources. This gives managers a better understanding of how the process works when an employee seeks help or has questions about the support offered.

    On top of that, we’re currently piloting a program for our firm’s leaders to help them role model mental well-being and setting boundaries. The program includes a self-assessment to determine their current state of well-being, identify areas they want to improve, and learn how to connect and support others. 

Summer is officially underway and like many of you, I have much to anticipate and appreciate. My goal is to be present when I’m traveling and spending time with my loved ones, and I’m thrilled to work at a firm that supports its people and prioritizes social and emotional well-being. Taking breaks, setting boundaries, and utilizing wellness resources like an EAP are essential to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

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