Top northwest accounting firm empowers employees with performance management

Lizzie Rahm loves the control that Halogen Performance gives the HR team.

Saves significant time with web-based appraisal system

Clark Nuber is a leading employer in Washington state. The firm was looking for a way to modernize its talent management system, and the HR team moved their appraisal process to the cloud with the goal of addressing retention challenges and empowering its employees. Since rolling out the new web-based system from Halogen Software, this CPA and consulting firm as been able to:

  • Empower high performers in the organization by providing them with a new level of visibility into their performance;
  • Provide partners and senior managers with reporting that closely links performance and other areas of the business;
  • Dramatically reduce time involved for HR, managers and employees — saving the firm between 130 and 170 hours annually.

Customer profile

Clark Nuber is an award-winning CPA and consulting firm that has been serving the Northwest from Bellevue, Washington, for over five decades. The firm delivers expertise to business owners and leaders in private and not-for-profit organizations, as well as high net worth individuals with a wide variety of services.

In 2007, Clark Nuber was recognized as one of the 50 Best Small and Medium Companies to Work for in America, and was named the number one medium sized company to work for in the state by Washington CEO magazine.

Challenge

Clark Nuber is focused on ensuring that they are an employer of choice for accounting professionals in Washington state. To support this mandate, the HR team is very focused on ensuring they have the right systems in place so they can deliver high quality HR programs to employees. While the company had modernized a number of its HR systems including its learning management and training systems, the firm was relying on an Excel-based system for its appraisal processes.

"We realized that the existing system had a number of shortcomings," said Tracy White, SPHR, Director of Human Resources, Clark Nuber. "The HR team was stuck re-keying data and was literally chained to their computers at review time. The Excel system was cumbersome, which is definitely not desirable in our line of work."

Based on the success the Clark Nuber team had with moving other HR systems online, they identified cloud-based HR software for managing employe performance, goals and development as the best way to modernize the appraisal process. "From day one we had a comprehensive list of features that any new solution had to have including 360 evaluations, self-appraisals, and customizable multiple evaluation options. We then put together an RFP and sent it to a list of about a dozen vendors and from there did demos with a short list of four vendors," explained White.

Solution

In assessing available solutions from each vendor, White and her team wanted a solution that would not only address their list of features, but fit with the fact that as a professional services firm, there was a strong focus on managing employee achievement on a day-to-day basis and maximizing billable time.

Clark Nuber's HR team selected the Halogen TalentSpace™ based on the solution's flexibility, ease of use and understanding of the unique needs of the professional services market.

"What really stood out about the Halogen solution was the overall flexibility ," outlined White. "Unlike a lot of organizations, we conduct a number of different types of reviews throughout the year, and this solution provided the flexibility for us to create a new process for each type, from job engagements on a weekly basis to 90-day reviews for new employees. Halogen 360 Multirater™ enables us to incorporate feedback from multiple sources and provide regular and timely feedback to our employees."

Clark Nuber opted for a hosted deployment of the new web-based employee performance appraisal system so there would be no strain on IT resources who were busy supporting the mission-critical systems used by the firm's employees. The overall implementation process was quick for Clark Nuber, with Halogen providing training to the HR team and employee training via a series of webinars. "We were up and running in a couple of weeks. The process was smooth — it was wonderful," said White.

Benefits

By eliminating the Excel-based appraisal system and moving to a web-based employee performance management system, Clark Nuber has been able to increase the value and visibility of talent management at the organization, while creating time savings for all involved in the process.

Visibility

With the new system, employees now have access to their performance and project reviews and are able to track their progress. "We have a number of high performers and this is a real plus for them as they like to keep things up-to-date and ensure they are on track in terms of achieving their goals. This supports our overall focus on retention, as our employees have visibility into the process and feel empowered," explained White.

To further employee's visibility into the talent management process, Clark Nuber added multirater functionality, which enables the firm to incorporate feedback from multiple sources into appraisals. "Employees have a complete and accurate picture of their performance as we are able to easily gather feedback and seamlessly incorporate it into review documents. Our environment is such that someone may have multiple managers in the course of a year so this makes a big difference. With feedback from all involved, employees have the full picture of where they stand performance-wise and what they are expected to be executing on for the next review cycle," said White.

The partners at Clark Nuber have been very receptive to the new system. The Halogen solution enables each partner to quickly and easily generate management reports so they are up-to-date. Furthermore, with the new level of visibility into the system, partners have a clearer picture of the value of talent management programs within the organization.

"The partners are accountants and they like to see the charts and reports," said White. "They now have visibility into where employees are and see the link between employee performance and other areas of the business."

Time savings

As with most professional services firms, Clark Nuber's employees and managers are busy. From day one, the new system has significantly streamlined the process of completing and managing reviews. "By eliminating the administrative burden of the process, we are freeing up time for billable work while improving the quality of our reviews," explained White.

For the HR team, there has been a dramatic reduction in the amount of time spent on administrative tasks. White estimates it has saved the firm between 130 and 170 hours annually. "This system has made my life so much easier," said White. "We've been able to free up time for everyone on the team so we can focus on key HR initiatives and not pushing paper. The partners and our CEO see HR differently and understand that we have the tools to take talent management to the next level."

As one of Washington state's top employers, Clark Nuber is very focused on maintaining its competitive edge by attracting and retaining top notch talent. Moving to a web-based employee performance and talent management system has enabled them to standardize appraisals, create consistency in the program and provide timely and relevant feedback to its most valuable asset, its employees.