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RSM Helps Employees Build Their Own Success Story


How do you empower your employees to do their best work?

It’s a question most managers ask regularly. And at RSM US LLP (RSM), the leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services to the middle market, good work starts with putting employees first—embracing all of the passions and talents that make them who they are. Employees know they can bring their authentic selves to work, helping them feel happier, more fulfilled and better able to work with clients.

RSM does this by delivering “The Power of Being Understood®” to its employees.

“We know – whether it’s with our clients or our teams – the power in a relationship comes from being understood,” said Katie Lamkin, chief talent officer with RSM. “When you feel truly understood, you feel supported and confident in achieving both your personal and professional goals.”

Ensuring nearly 11,000 employees feel understood is no small task, but the ethos is an important differentiator for RSM in the highly competitive professional services industry. So how does it scale The Power of Being Understood? Enter: Cornerstone OnDemand.

After growing from 7,000 to nearly 11,000 employees in just over a decade, RSM adopted Cornerstone’s Recruiting, Learning and Performance Suites to not only scale The Power of Being Understood, but also infuse it into every stage of the employee journey.

“We were growing and changing as an organization, but the way we were managing our talent wasn’t,” says Ken Bansemer, talent management, systems and data leader at RSM.

Before Cornerstone, the team used custom applications built within their Human Resource Information System (HRIS), plus an applicant tracking system and separate learning management system. These disparate tools were becoming outdated and unsupported—which was frustrating for administrators and employees alike.

“We wanted to show our employees that they mattered to us every single day, but the talent experience we were delivering didn’t reflect that,” said Lamkin. Cornerstone’s platform was an obvious choice. Today, RSM delivers a holistic talent experience to its employees from hire to retire.

Recruiting: An RSM Experience from the Very First Touchpoint

In a tight talent market, first impressions matter. According to Gartner, talent shortages are a top risk to organizations globally. For RSM in particular, these shortages, coupled with relentless competition from larger firms—including the industry’s Big Four—made it challenging to hire the personnel it needed to continue to grow.

“We want candidates to know who we are, what we are and why we are,” said Mike Baron, talent acquisition leader with RSM.

Leveraging Cornerstone’s Recruiting Suite, RSM simplified its application process, which had deterred candidates from applying for positions in the past.

“Before Cornerstone, our application process was 15 pages long and looked archaic to our candidates,” said Brea Fritsche, talent acquisition center of excellence leader with RSM. “And we didn’t have the ability to use different platforms for them to upload their LinkedIn profiles or to auto-fill their information into our system.”

RSM also made the recruiting pages accessible on mobile and more intuitive to navigate. As a result, RSM’s hiring successes increased—and has continued to increase. In their last fiscal year, RSM hired nearly 1,016 college interns, 1,129 campus graduates, and 1,727 experienced professionals.

Onboarding: Getting Acclimated at RSM

With a successful recruiting program in place, RSM is able to hire the people it needs to continue to grow and serve its clients—and meet a new challenge: bringing The Power of Being Understood to the nearly 3,900 people it brings onboard each year.

Fortunately, the onboarding tool within Cornerstone’s Recruiting Suite allows RSM to extend the candidate experience through to that critical time between when they decide to join the firm and their first day. This continued introduction to RSM helps give new employees, regardless of the office they work in, a common understanding of the company and its culture. Here, new hires are introduced to “Owning My Future”—RSM’s internal branding for the Cornerstone platform—where they can begin to acclimate to RSM. To help each employee feel The Power of Being Understood even in their early days, RSM leverages the learning management system to personalize onboarding roadmaps based on each individual’s level and line of business to help guide their integration over their first 90 days.

“We refer to everything from Cornerstone as, ‘Owning My Future’ so that we’re really empowering people to do what they need to do for themselves within the organization,” Fritsche says.

Onboarding through the Cornerstone platform also means an introduction to the resources that allow employees to pursue life outside of RSM—from flexible work hours, to the sabbatical program, to a professional coach that helps employees navigate integrating work and life priorities.

Learning: Giving Employees the Tools They Need to Succeed

Once employees find their footing at RSM, they continue to use the Owning My Future platform to access resources personalized to their growth and development at the firm—starting with learning.

Through Cornerstone’s Learning Suite, RSM employees have access to more than 7,816 educational courses that focus on everything from leadership and communication skills to more tactical licensing and certification trainings. In addition to career development, research shows continuous learning can help employees be 52% more productive and 92% more likely to innovate. And this learning drives employee retention: 94% of employees will stay at a company longer if the company invests in their development. With Cornerstone, RSM people feel The Power of Being Understood when relevant courses are suggested based on their current interests and role—helping to drive retention.

With the help of the Owning My Future platform, RSM empowers each individual’s unique career milestones, regardless of where they start in their career journey with the firm.

Performance: Understanding Empowers RSM Employees to Grow

No one knows the importance of performance feedback better than RSM’s Lamkin. In her nearly two decades at RSM, she rose through the ranks—in large part, due to the on-going feedback she received from firm leaders and team members. In her role today, she is laser-focused on applying the same thoughtful feedback to every employee at the continuously growing company—beginning with creating more opportunities to hear that feedback.

As CHRO, Lamkin and her team have worked to phase out annual performance reviews at RSM in favor of more regular performance conversations using Cornerstone’s Performance Suite. Within Cornerstone, they revisited the standards by which employees were being reviewed. The ratings system in place at RSM hadn’t scaled with the company’s growth, leaving many employees feeling like a number on a page. The RSM talent management team worked with business leaders to develop a new career development framework to identify the knowledge, skills and attributes that describe success at various levels of the company.

This framework became the backbone of ongoing performance discussions at RSM. Managers are encouraged to share feedback with employees regularly through the Cornerstone Performance Suite—an effort known as “Project Feedback” internally—and research shows employees feel more engaged when they have regular feedback conversations with their manager. With their previous annual performance review process, according to Talent Management Leader Bansemer, 75% of feedback was received during the last two months of the year.

“Cornerstone has allowed us to shift toward agile performance management, improving the way everyone works,” Bansemer says. “Last quarter, 95% of employees said they had development conversations with their career advisors, 90% said they have been regularly updating progress against their goals, and feedback is given regularly throughout the year—all within Owning My Future.”

RSM’s strong approach to learning and performance means the company also set itself up to manage internal succession—multiplying Lamkin’s story across every department at the firm. As Talent Acquisition Leader, Baron is well-aware of succession’s importance:

“Developing our next-generation of leaders is key to the future success of our firm and our team,” he says.

With the Recruiting, Learning, and Performance Suites securely in place, RSM created a holistic talent experience for both candidates and employees that empower them to do their best work—and feel The Power of Being Understood and valued every day.

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