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Caring for employees’ professional and personal growth

Bonuses, flexibility around work-life balance, and a focus on inclusiveness have landed RSM on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list for the first time in its 95-year history.

At RSM, the leading U.S. provider of audit, tax, and consulting services focused on the middle market, employee success (and ultimately the firm’s success) comes down to implementing the Five C behaviors—caring, curiosity, collaboration, critical thinking and courage. But this past year, the “C” that took precedence was the first one: caring.

While many companies talk about caring for clients and employees, RSM makes it a priority in a number of concrete ways. Last year, the leadership team expanded benefits around wellness and mental health for all 13,000-plus employees. They also gave “Extended Care Cash” to help employees with issues like backup childcare, elder care, and education options for their children, and everyone was given a week off between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Lastly, they created a $50-a-week allotment for employees to spend at local restaurants in March and April of 2020, amounting to $4.7 million, with the unused portion—almost $2 million—going to local food banks.

“We thought it was a great way to meet the needs of as many as we could, while demonstrating our sense of caring, our sense of teamwork, and our sense of community, which are front and center for us,” says Joe Adams, managing partner and CEO.

This caring culture extends to RSM’s clients. RSM employees’ expertise is enhanced through a variety of training programs, such as the company’s three-year Industry Eminence program, which has allowed a group of 38 professionals to explore different areas of the business to become experts in their industry—and better serve clients as a result. The company’s Enterprise Leadership Academy trains the next generation of senior leaders to develop frameworks for facing enterprise-wide challenges, while also contributing to their overall professional growth. Employees who graduate from this program gain personalized insights about their leadership styles and receive access to career-long support groups, which they can tap into for feedback as their careers progress.

“Training is embedded in our culture,” says Adams. “In our unique Industry Eminence program, we identify senior analysts to do a deep dive into a specific industry, such as health care, real estate, consumer products or a number of others, over a three-year period. When they come out of the program, we want them to be leaders in that industry, bringing much sought-after expertise to clients.”

Personal growth at RSM is just as important as professional development, which is why the firm created the Pursue Your Passion program on RSM’s 90th anniversary in 2016. An independent committee awards nine employees with nine days and $10,000 each to do something they’ve been dreaming about, much of it charity related. Last year’s winners include Michelle Whittenhall, a business tax manager in Rockford, Ill., who worked with Chicago-area hospitals to deliver care packages to parents with children in neonatal intensive care units. The idea was inspired by Whittenhall’s experience with her own daughter.

RSM also implemented an innovation fund where any employee can submit an idea, and employees whose ideas are selected work with an accelerator to make them a reality. A new video app, for instance, enables RSM’s people to stay connected to one another and with clients when they can’t be together in person. The app’s videos humanize connections, leading to enhanced trust, accountability, and collaboration—and have already contributed to winning new client engagements. “We lean on our employees a lot,” says Adams. “We really try to empower them to make a difference, and they always rise to the occasion.”

It’s the kind of expertise that comes from 95 years in the business—and the kind of forward-thinking outlook that will pave the road to success for years to come.