Valuing our people
Balancing life and work

We are a competitive company, committed to our commercial and publishing goals. But we also believe that people are most effective at work when they have the flexibility, tools and resources to manage their personal lives. We work hard to keep our people fulfilled in their roles, giving them opportunities to increase their skills, to take on international projects and move between businesses, and to ensure they are able to balance life and work. We believe that mobility should be an option wherever appropriate for both the company and the individual, and with businesses in 66 countries covering all of the world's regions, that's something we can offer our people. We follow a set of global principles to guide how we reward our people that go beyond the issue of salary. These principles include providing compelling health, welfare and retirement benefits for all our staff to help them make the right choices for themselves and their families, not only for today, but for tomorrow; providing locally competitive pay that recognises the relevant recruitment market, business sector and geographic region; using incentives to drive performance; and recognising the contribution of all our people. We know that our people are more likely to stay with our company if their role can evolve alongside any changes in their personal circumstances, and we will go out of our way to protect our most important assets.

Activity summary

Each of our people has unique needs and we offer a variety of programmes and initiatives to complement these. Examples include flexible work arrangements, telework assignments, employee assistance programmes, back-up care for children and adult dependants, personal planning advice for elder care, sabbaticals, summer hours and convenience services.

In 2008, we took the difficult decision to award a 2009 pay increase to only those people who are currently earning less than $50,000 a year, a preemptive action against the uncertain climate to allow us to continue investing in the business and to protect as many jobs as we can.

In the second year of our New Directions programme – an initiative set up to help Pearson people undertake a short-term assignment in a different part of the world – we helped 102 people move between companies and countries, up from 67 in 2007 and beating our target of 100 moves.


New Directions A video showing our international short-term mobility programme. The programme has just relaunched its website to make it more user-friendly, including details of the offices Pearson has all over the world.

New Directions

Pearson Shared Services and facilities staff at our UK head office became the latest Pearson companies to participate in a disability training course developed by Scope, the disability rights organisation. Penguin UK also rolled out the course to their managers.


We have mentoring programmes across the company, some more formal than others, but we've found that mentoring is a highly effective way to connect people in different parts of the business. As with the short-term assignments we enable through our NewDirections programme, both sides of the partnership are able to gain insight into sometimes previously undiscovered parts of the organisation, growing each other's skills and raising aspirations. Two examples of these are below:

Mentoring: A number of successful relationships were formed across the finance teams of different operating companies in 2008. One such example involved a mentee presented with the prospect of redundancy and the need for redeployment. The mentor worked with the mentee throughout this time, providing information on the Pearson businesses and types of roles the mentee could consider, plus a network of contacts in the Finance department. The mentor offered support throughout the job search process and the mentee was successful in moving across the company to another suitable role.

New Directions: A designer from Pearson Curriculum Chicago spent two weeks with Maskew Miller Longman in South Africa in March 2008. The purpose of the visit was to share best practice for product development and work with the design team in South Africa. This experience helped him to develop an operational network and understand the challenges and opportunities faced by MML in the South African market. A reciprocal visit is being considered for the future.


We’ve identified at least one ‘ready-now’ and one ‘ready soon’ successor for each of the top roles across Pearson: although we may sometimes choose to look externally to get fresh eyes on an old problem or bring in specific skills, we know we always have people to step into the key Pearson roles if required.

A few words from… Paulo Pisano

"When I joined Pearson in October 2008, I soon noticed some remarkable features about the culture.

One was that a lot of people seem to be studying for something or learning a new skill – perhaps a welcome side effect of being surrounded by information. Another was that there is a healthy level of competition and cooperation between different parts of the business, which seems to drive our designers and sales people to really take note of what’s happening in their part of the world and be the best in their field.

But I think the most striking distinction was that people here are genuinely aware of the power they have in their jobs to make the world a better place. I think that there's a real culture of valuing the contribution of each person at Pearson, and it has an effect on how our people view their own capacity to influence positive change. They know they are capable, innovative and valued people because we work hard to treat them as such, and that's why they are able to produce such fantastic results for Pearson."

Paulo Pisano

Paulo Pisano Director, Human Resources,
Pearson Education International