Kevin Heppner says a strong company culture isn’t cliché at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause.

Management goes out of its way—via focus groups, surveys and other engagement initiatives—to discern what makes employees happy at the CPA and consulting firm, which has 339 employees in its Madison office. The company has 2,700 employees nationwide.

Advancement opportunities and professional growth are factors in retaining employees in a competitive accounting industry. Allowing executives to “dress for the day” when they’re not meeting with clients, and providing comfortable spaces for employees to relax, like a Badger room, also are important at the company.

Heppner, a regional managing partner and CPA, isn’t surprised by the 10 percent growth spurt last year at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause in Wisconsin. Heppner, who’s worked at the company for three decades and held a variety of positions, says the company puts a big emphasis on recruitment.

Representatives spend a chunk of time at universities in an attempt to attract quality talent from state schools such as the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, UW–Eau Claire, UW–La Crosse and, of course, the UW–Madison.

While 18 partners across the state are UW–Whitewater grads, nine of are in the Madison office. Heppner has a degree from UW–Eau Claire.

“We dedicate an individual to spend time on campus, developing relationships with professors and students,” Heppner says. “It’s nothing for our main person who goes to recruit at those universities to spend several weeks there.”

Four-point formula for success

1
Learn what makes employees happy. Data gathered through focus groups, surveys and other initiatives have influenced policy changes at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, the CPA and consulting firm which has 339 workers in its Madison office and employs 2,700 workers nationwide. One resulting policy was an increase in the length of paternity leave.

2
Retain good employees. Opportunities for advancement and professional growth are factors in keeping employees in a competitive accounting industry. The company offers technical training as well as external educational opportunities.

3
Reimagine the workplace for comfort and flexibility. At the Madison office, executives are allowed to “dress for the day” when they’re not meeting with clients. Relaxing spaces are provided for employees to enjoy, such as the multi-purpose Badger Room.

4
Attract quality talent from the region. The company recruits from college campuses in the UW System. Eighteen partners in the Madison office are UW–Whitewater graduates. “We dedicate an individual to spend time on campus, developing relationships with professors and students,” says Kevin Heppner, a regional managing partner, CPA and a UW–Eau Claire grad.