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How BKD CPAs and Advisors Keeps Employees Engaged

Rewarding employees for going above and beyond is one of the ways BKD CPAs and Advisors stays competitive with top-tier talent and engaged employees.

By Max Havey

Jan 2022

BKD team accepts award on stage
Photo courtesy BKDBKD gives out awards throughout the year as part of its culture.

Who doesn’t like being rewarded for a job well done? At BKD CPAs and Advisors, rewarding employees is a key part of company culture. Carly Taft, marketing and business development manager for BKD, cites employee recognition and awards as one of the primary ways BKD retains top talent in the competitive financial industry. “Our voluntary turnover rate last fiscal year was 8% compared to the industry average of 17%, which I think is a great testament to the culture at BKD,” Taft says. To really give its recognition some staying power, BKD creates specific awards. 

First is their WOW Award, for employees who exhibit one of BKD’s Unmatched Client Service Standards (integrity first, true expertise, professional demeanor, responsive reliability and principled innovation). 

“You’re essentially saying, ‘Wow, this person blew me away with how they went above and beyond what is normally expected from them,” Taft says. Nominations are collected on the “WOW Wall” online discussion board, and three winners from the southern Missouri practice unit—which includes the Springfield, Joplin and Branson offices—are selected each month by the managing partner. Winners receive a $100 gift card and a WOW Award trophy. 

The annual Pride Awards honor one partner and one employee who personally and professionally embody all of BKD’s key service standards and values. Following a more in-depth nomination process that is only open for a few months each year, nominations for Pride Awards are reviewed by BKD’s CEO, Tom Watson, and a selection committee. Winners are personally informed by Watson at a surprise meeting. They receive $10,000, a crystal Pride bowl and a spot on the national office’s Pride Wall.

While the Pride Awards have been happening on a national level since 2003, Taft notes that the southern Missouri offices started 
giving their own office-level Pride Awards three years ago. These include an Impact Award, which goes to someone who demonstrates significant impact by steering the team toward professional and personal excellence, and the MVP Award, which recognizes a quintessential team player. Each recipient receives $300 and a trophy. 

In addition to these monthly and annual awards, BKD also offers reward time off. This reward time off is given to team members who go the extra mile in their work, especially during busy, deadline-driven times of the year. To encourage recipients to use their reward time off, it comes with the caveat that it must be taken within a month of receiving it. “It’s a way of saying, ‘Hey, you did a great job, you deserve this brain break,’” Taft says.

Even with the success of these awards, Taft continues to send out a semiannual engagement survey to make sure employees are having positive, fulfilling work experiences. “It’s really important for companies to have a pulse of what their employees are looking for and what kind of recognition is most meaningful to them,” Taft says. “Time and time again, our surveys show that our culture is one of the top things that keeps people at BKD.”

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