Aligning HR with Strategic Goals 

    by Ken Bansemer, SPHR 

    Aligning HR with Strategic GoalsAre your recruiting and retention practices aligned with your firm’s strategic goals?  At any CPA firm, your people are a strategic asset.  If your human resource practices don’t take your firm strategies into account, you could be hindering your chances of meeting your short- and long-term objectives.  At McGladrey, we use a number of approaches to link our overall strategy with our human resource functions.

    Make Informed Decisions
    Our recruiting is constantly aligned with the goals of our organization.  To make that happen, our leadership is involved in an annual strategy-setting process.  We develop our hiring and recruiting plan based on input from the leaders of each of our regions and we match it to the goals of our organization.  As we determine annual needs, we review past performance and monitor capacity based on chargeable and nonchargeable hours and the attrition rate.  When planning for hiring, we first take entry level assumptions into account.  We know that the new staff we hire will have a fairly standard set of competencies and skills and we can train them from there for the positions that we need to fill.  Hiring experienced staff is a little more challenging, especially if we are trying to address a development in the marketplace or if there is a new hot technical area where we need to add expertise.

    In the recruiting marketplace, we emphasize our strengths.  We promote our career advisor program, in which staff are paired with an advisor who helps them set performance and career goals and then provides regular follow-up to ensure they’re on track.  This program helps us get to know staff as unique individuals.  We also let recruits know that we offer a unique client experience that allows them to work directly with business leaders.  In addition, we believe that nothing is more important than one-to-one interaction with our professionals, so our partners and directors are very much involved in the recruiting process.

    Adjusting to New Generations
    Our recruiting strategy is always influenced by demographics, and the biggest shift we’ve seen involves Generation Y.  There seems to be constant discussion of how these groups differ from current Baby Boomer leadership and about what can be done to get these younger generations to conform to existing standards.  We believe, however, that we have to evolve to understand these generational changes because these young professionals are the future leaders of the profession.  For that reason, we’ve changed our targeted recruiting messaging.  The theme of our new recruiting campaign, ‘Personalities Wanted,’ acknowledges that we all have unique backgrounds, experience and aspirations.  As employers, we have to find a way to tap into those attributes and use them to develop new ways to serve our clients, instead of molding our staff into a one-size-fits-all template.

    What do we know about these younger generations?  They quickly adapt to new technologies and careers, and find flexibility and work/life balance extremely important.  In addition, they are willing to risk a job change rather than stay in an unsatisfying position.  To help ensure their job satisfaction and make the most of their options within McGladrey, we have career advisers, mentors and coaches, who themselves get extensive training in how to nurture younger professionals.  We also gather employee feedback through our employee engagement survey to ensure that we’re providing the training and tools that they want and need.

    Encouraging Inclusion
    Diversity and inclusion are hot topics within and outside the profession.  To us, they involve building an organization that recruits and includes a wide variety of staff regardless of background, race, gender, religion and other differentiating factors.  In the past, people were sometimes uncomfortable talking about diversity, in part because they didn’t know how to address it, but that is changing.  We discuss and promote diversity internally by creating related programs (such as a woman’s leadership council and targeted diversity recruitment efforts) and ensuring that staff are aware of the programs’ existence and importance.

    Richard Caturano, a McGladrey partner who is the current AICPA chair (and former chair of the PCPS Executive Committee), has recently been named as McGladrey’s first national leader of culture, diversity and inclusion.  Because we take this topic very seriously and want to demonstrate the importance of this position, he reports directly to Joe Adams, our managing partner and CEO.  One important point: We don’t consider diversity and inclusion a ‘program’ or an ‘initiative.’  Those terms connote something that has a beginning and an end.  This is different because it’s about who we are as an organization.  While our firm is already known for providing workplace flexibility, we want to also have a strong reputation for having a culture that is welcoming to any and all qualified individuals.

    A critical strategic goal of any firm is to retain high-quality professionals who are able to serve the needs of a changing marketplace.  Whether it’s a matter of adapting to the expectations of a new generation or expanding your recruiting to a broader range of staff, the long-term viability of an organization depends on making sure you recognize what’s going on in the outside professional world, as well as what’s going on within your own organization.
    Ken Bansemer, SPHR, is National Talent Acquisition and Talent Management Leader at McGladrey LLP, the leading U.S. provider of assurance, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market, with more than 6,700 people in 75 cities nationwide.

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