How Cassady Schiller Keeps Turnover Below Industry Average

The benefits of a unified performance management system along with strong career progression and coaching.

Meet the HR Manager 

Whitney Fagin is the HR Manager at Cassady Schiller. She joined the accounting firm in 2018, bringing 10 years of HR experience. “Anything that falls under the HR umbrella,” she said, “whether it's employee relations or benefits – it’s my responsibility.” 

When Whitney first joined Cassady Schiller, she wanted to provide more employee insight into the performance review process.

“I wanted to help people see their progression and move forward in their careers by visually giving them a place to track their performance and development.” 

About Cassady Schiller

Cassady Schiller is a Cincinnati-based accounting, tax, and investment firm that’s been in business for over 30 years. In 2020, they were listed as one of the top 300 accounting firms by Inside Public Accounting.

Cassady Schiller prides itself on developing its associates and promoting from within. As a result of their employee development focus, they have a significantly lower rate of employee turnover than their peers in the field. Their mantra: “If we take care of our people, we know they’ll take care of our clients.”

The Challenge

By the time Whitney joined the firm, the leadership had already identified the need for a new performance management system – both to increase transparency and to eliminate the reliance on pen-and-paper or Google Drive review systems. 

“I was handed a folder of previous employee performance reviews when I arrived,” she mentioned. “I thought, ‘Ok, this is what we do.’” 

However, Whitney knew that employees were confused and dissatisfied by this performance evaluation process.

“It felt secretive, even though it wasn’t secretive at all,” Whitney said.

“There wasn’t a home base for people to go back and review what had previously been done.”

Instead, reviews were filled out and then filed away – not to be looked at until the next review cycle. This process meant that employees weren’t able to easily track their performance over time; every new review felt disconnected from the one before. 

“It wasn’t very accessible for employees to see how they progressed.” 

Cassady Schiller prides itself on developing its employees; they’re proud of the many associates and partners who have been at the firm for 15-20 years. Therefore, employee visibility into their performance over time was critical. With this visibility, employees could have more agency in guiding their development over their tenure. 

The challenge, then was to find a performance management system that: 

  • Housed all performance processes in one system
  • Provided performance transparency to employees
  • Streamlined the semi-annual and annual performance review process
  • Stored mentor and manager feedback
  • Allowed employees and management to track performance over time

Why PerformYard

Whitney knew that employees would have to adapt to using new software and a new login when completing performance reviews, so she wanted to ensure that the system itself was easy to navigate and that employees could readily understand what tasks they needed to complete.  

She then set up pilot groups to test out different performance management solutions. 

“I told them, ‘I’m going to give you a rundown of the basics, but I want you to tell me how easy it is.” 

When it came to PerformYard, the results were emphatic: “It was just easy, easy on the employee end,” Whitney summarized, “everyone caught on quickly.” 

PerformYard provided a single-sign-on platform where employees could easily see what tasks they needed to complete, quickly navigate to those tasks to fill in reviews and feedback and view past and present performance without leaving the platform. 

PerformYard provided the transparency and the streamlined system that Cassady Schiller needed to help their employees develop their careers in tandem with Cassady Schiller’s business goals. 

The Process

Cassady Schiller conducts semi-annual performance reviews along with an annual feedback process. 

Their semi-annual reviews are conducted in November and May. These reviews focus on competencies and are completed by managers and coaches. Employees, in turn, complete upward reviews for their managers and coaches. Then, associates also complete upward reviews for the partners at the firm, providing a 360-degree view of performance for every person at the firm. 

The annual feedback process consists of a single document, filled out by coaches, along with an employee accountability plan. 

Complementing the review process is Cassady Schiller’s goal-setting system. Through PerformYard, employees meet with their coaches, set their goals in PerformYard, and then have quarterly goal check-ins where they log their process. 

Additionally, managers and coaches use PerformYard to provide informal, yet documented feedback throughout the year – a feature that provides more transparency and trackability to employee performance. 

The Results

PerformYard helped Cassady Schiller create a streamlined, simplified performance management process that provided clarity and transparency into the review cycle. Employees have semi-annual reviews with managers and coaches that are stored in PerformYard, allowing employees to track progress over time. Employees, in turn, provide upward feedback which helps strengthen Cassady Schiller’s mentorship program. 

“In our industry, we have very high turnover,” Whitney mentioned. “Our firm doesn’t have the 20% turnover rate you see in accounting. Our employees enjoy working here.” 

Cassidy Schiller attributes their retention rate and internal promotion track record to coaching and investing in their employees. “Before PerformYard, we already had a coaching program, it just wasn’t formalized.” 

“PerformYard gave us the place to formalize that, so employees could go back and instantly grab that information,” Whitney added. 

This formalized coaching process, combined with the more transparent review process has resulted in faster employee development. 

“PerformYard has captured their growth and progression. As we look back and see now how quickly high-performing employees are being promoted, we have to give a lot of credit to this new process.” 

Lastly, employees have responded very enthusiastically to the feedback feature. 

“‘I’ve gotten great responses, particularly from the younger generation of associates, who want immediate feedback. With accounting, it can be difficult to do that, especially in the busy months. Having that quick feedback function within PerformYard makes it easy to give immediate feedback on their jobs or what they need to do differently.”

Whitney then summarized, “It gives us a better environment for our people to work in.”

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