Plante Moran Among '100 Best'

January 30, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — For the 10th consecutive year, Plante & Moran has been named to Fortune Magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies To Work For In America, and it’s the only accounting firm among the top 50 companies on the list this year.

Fortune picks the 100 companies based on their “superior employer-employee relations.” Plante & Moran ranked 44th on the list this year. The full list and accompanying stories are published in the Feb. 4 issue of Fortune, which hits newsstands today. 

So how did the company manage to get on the 100 Best list in the first place, and how has it retained a position on the list for a decade? By creating and maintaining a culture that promotes staff development, retention, and focus on client service, according to Plante & Moran. 

“We care about our people, and we care about our clients. I think one of the reasons we’ve been able to stay on the list is because our culture works,” said George Riddering, office managing partner of Plante & Moran’s Grand Rapids office. “In this 10-year period our firm’s revenues have tripled, which shows that our clients appreciate what we do and that we have motivated people who are excited about working at Plante & Moran, and they stick around.”

In addition to tripling revenues, over the last decade Plante & Moran has nearly doubled its staff. It’s now the 12th largest public accounting and business advisory firm in the country and employs more than 1,500 people, of which more than 500 are CPAs.

Riddering said the company is extremely proud of its ability to retain good people. Plante & Moran’s turnover rate is 10 percent, which is less than half the turnover rate of any of its peers in the accounting industry, he pointed out.

“We have a very good training program in place, and we have what we feel is a very effective coaching and mentoring system,” Riddering said. “Each partner is responsible for helping a certain number of staff with their careers, and they spend significant time coaching and mentoring them along.”

Plante & Moran has a Parental Tightrope Action committee that deals with issues faced by working parents. The committee has developed a number of initiatives throughout the years, such as Saturday child care for employees during the busy tax season. Parents can bring their kids to work, have lunch with them, and the kids all get to play together. Riddering’s own five children grew up spending Saturdays at the firm during tax season, and they still talk about the experience, he noted.

Plante & Moran’s culture is the legacy of founding partner Frank Moran, who felt very strongly about the staff, Riddering said. Staff at Plante & Moran are not referred to as “employees” because that implies they work for someone.

“Frank liked the idea of everybody working together,” Riddering recalled. “He talked a lot about the concept of the ‘whole person’ coming to work. People face a lot of things outside of work, and Frank understood that. He was very committed to the people-development side of what we do.” 

Fortune conducts the annual 100 Best Companies To Work For In America survey with the help of the Great Place To Work Institute. It’s considered the most extensive employee survey in corporate America. The survey is based on two criteria: an evaluation of the policies and culture of each company and the opinions of the company’s employees. Employees are asked questions related to their attitudes about management credibility, job satisfaction and camaraderie within the organization. Each company is also evaluated on its demographic makeup, pay and benefits, internal communications, job opportunities, diversity efforts and management philosophy.

The Fortune magazine recognition is a wonderful thing, Riddering said, but it’s not what drives Plante & Moran to do what it does.

“You really have to walk the talk,” he explained. “You need to not just put the policies in place, but make sure you’re following the policies. It really starts with the people that you hire. We’re picky; we want to remain relatively ‘jerk free,’ so we really put a lot of emphasis on who we hire and bring into our culture. We’re very protective of our culture.”

Plante & Moran was one of three Michigan companies to make the list. Herman Miller Inc. of Zeeland ranked 96th and was the only office furniture maker to make the list. The company was recognized as one of the 100 Best in 1998 and 1999, as well. Quicken Loans of Livonia ranked No. 9 among medium-sized companies and No. 17 overall, the highest ranking of any Michigan-based company. Quicken Loans was also cited as one of the companies with the “most unusual perks.”

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