Building a community - and staff loyalty

An accounting company empowers workers to give back.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)

dave_katri.03.jpg
Clark Nuber CEO David Katri thinks his firm's charity programs help build employee loyalty.

(Fortune Small Business) -- Last year Vincent Stevens's church ran an experiment: 10 members were each given $100 to help their communities. Some gave the money away; others used it as seed capital to raise thousands more.

Stevens, 40, a partner in the Bellevue, Wash., accounting firm Clark Nuber, wondered what would happen if his company did something similar. To find out, the company launched Caring, Serving and Giving, a program that lets employees apply for grants of up to $500 to fund community service projects.

The first grant went to senior auditor Hillary Parker, 27. She and a colleague used the cash to turn a local St. Patrick's Day run into a charity fund-raiser that netted $750 to build two pools for rehabilitating marine mammals caught in oil spills.

"I don't think this would have happened without the seed fund," Parker says.

While the program certainly does some good, it's unclear how it helps the bottom line. "It's really hard to put your finger on the ROI," admits CEO David Katri, 59.

But experts say that such programs do tend to boost employee morale.

"Things have shifted over the past 10 years in terms of what employees look for when they join an organization," says Laurie Bienstock, who heads the U.S. strategic rewards group at Watson Wyatt, an international consulting firm. "In general, employees are looking for a more well-rounded approach where they work, so giving them the opportunity to contribute makes a lot of sense."

Whatever Clark Nuber is doing seems to be working. Last year the 160-employee firm's revenue grew 16%, to $30.9 million, slightly better than the industry average of 14.5% for independent accounting firms, according to the Leading Edge Alliance, an accounting trade group to which the company belongs. Plus, its turnover rate was 13%, below the 14.7% industry average. In a competitive field, both are advantages.

"Turnover in accounting firms is terrible for clients," says Katri, "and bad for business."

Talk back: Tell us how your company motivates its staff.  To top of page

To write a note to the editor about this article, click here.




QMy dream is to launch my own business someday. Now that it's time to choose a major, I'm debating if I should major in entrepreneurial studies or major in engineering to acquire a set of skills first. Is majoring in entrepreneurship a good choice? More
Get Answer
- Spate, Orange, Calif.

Sponsors
More Galleries
Meet the kids dressed as Oscars red carpet stars By now, you've seen the red carpet looks from the 2015 Oscars. But you haven't seen 5 year-olds dressed up like A-listers at the awards, until now. Photographer Tricia Messeroux and designer Andrea Pitter recreated the pint-sized looks in just 36 hours. More
Flying economy doesn't have to be miserable For those willing to shell out just a little extra, several à la carte services offer experiences usually reserved for First Class passengers. More
Consumer Reports' Top Picks - American cars are back The magazine's favorite cars include three American models for the first time in years, thanks to a big boost from Tesla. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play