Flexibility and Inclusion Create an Engaging Environment



Photography by Wes Battoclette

How does a company ensure their employees are happy while still maintaining a healthy ROI? According to BDO USA, one of the nation’s leading accounting firms and a member of the worldwide BDO network, innovative thinking is the answer.  

BDO has implemented several strategies in order to differentiate themselves from competitors by promoting an employee engagement perspective. Their inclusion and flexibility strategies have enabled the firm to be regularly recognized as a leading employer by various publications and organizations. 

“Business is always changing, which isn’t conducive to pre-packaged options. Introducing a static, ‘one size fits all’ approach to flexibility is doomed to failure,” says Brian Berning, assurance office managing partner at BDO’s downtown Cincinnati location and industry leader in the firm’s Technology and Life Sciences Practice. 

“We promote an atmosphere that gives our employees guidelines, not rules, founded by principle and core values. We provide flexible hours, a spirit of high energy and an award structure that embraces innovative thinking.” 

BDO has received the When Work Works Award, formerly known as the Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility, for the past six years. According to the benchmarking report from this award, BDO has an overall flexibility score of 85, compared to an industry average of 81. The same report finds that 98 percent of employees agree they can temporarily change starting and quitting times on short notice, 92 percent say they can work at home during regular work hours on occasion and 89 percent say they can take paid time off during the workday to attend to important personal or family needs. “Any time you start your day late, leave during work to go to an appointment or work from home, that is an example of using flexibility to manage your busy job, your complex life and your energy so that you can continue to give your best,” says Berning. “The more intentional we are with our time, the more satisfying our fit tends to be, the better we are at managing our energy and our business will ultimately be more successful.”

Flexibility is one of many strategies BDO utilizes to promote employee well-being and in return, higher retention rates. People who work in a flexible environment are happier, better performing and more committed – in short, they’re better at what they do. 

Berning says that retention of BDO employees is key to retention of clients. “When an employee leaves, it can often take up to a year to hire and train a replacement on the specifics. Retention also impacts our reputation in the marketplace – higher retention makes us better equipped to attract and retain future employees and clients.”  

Additionally, BDO’s Career Advisor program encourages continuous expansion of employees’ knowledge, skills and abilities, and fosters professional relationships between seasoned and less experienced employees. 

Furthermore, Women’s Inclusion at BDO provides an environment for both men and women to thrive and contribute to the success of the firm. Nine years of data shows striking growth. The percent of women partners has nearly doubled in that time period, with close to half of women partners having progressed organically within the firm. For five consecutive years, BDO has been named a Working Mother magazine 100 Best Company. Over the past three years, BDO USA has achieved a 70 percent increase in cumulative revenue growth, the most of any national accounting firm. Berning explains this has been fueled in equal measures by organic growth across each of its business lines and the firm’s ongoing expansion strategy. 

“A key component of this growth is the ability to attract and retain talented professionals, as the firm has added approximately 2,000 staff during this time,” he says. “This can only be accomplished through a culture of inclusion.”

Employee engagement is a key to enabling future growth and career development, and BDO designs and implements customized engagement plans for their offices and practices. 

“Above all, we build a culture of inclusion – we want everyone to know they’re special and give us purpose,” says Berning. “We treat everyone like partners: our employees, our vendors and our clients. That is our secret sauce.”

BDO’s downtown office is located at 221 East Fourth Street, Suite 100, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 513.592.2400 or visit their website at www.bdo.com.  

BDO Blue Ash office is located at 7870 East Kemper Road, Cincinnati, OH 45249. For more information, call 513.984.1489 or visit their website at www.bdo.com.