The Bonadio Group Forges New Path on Innovation Trail

Firm Harnesses Employee Recognition in Order to Deliver the Ultimate Customer Experience

Tom Bonadio, CEO of The Bonadio Group, and his firm managers, are committed to creating a culture where the talent is engaged and committed to the organization.

Founded in 1978, The Bonadio Group rose from humble beginnings—the kitchen table of founder and CEO Tom Bonadio’s mother, to be specific. In the almost 40 years that followed, the accounting firm, based in Rochester, N.Y., has been on a steady and sustainable track of success. In fact, the firm was ranked the 39th largest CPA firm in the nation on Accounting Today’s 2017 Top 100 firms. With 10 offices across New York State, more than 16,000 clients from around the world, and projected revenues of $106 million for the 2017 fiscal year, it’s clear that The Bonadio Group is doing it right.

The Challenge

When asked what contributes to this success, leaders at Bonadio will tell you it’s the fact that they’re not afraid to break from traditional CPA business practices. For example, their employee benefits and related programs include unlimited paid time off, alternative career paths (such as part-time partnership), and a focus on retaining and advancing women to leadership positions. These are impressive features to celebrate, but the firm is on a never-ending mission of improvement.

It’s this drive—this constant need to be on the trail of innovation—that helps The Bonadio Group stay ahead of the competition. To sustain the momentum, they recognize the need to deliver the ultimate client experience. And to do that, they need the best talent—and the tools to create a culture where the talent is engaged and committed to the firm.

“We believe that culture isn’t something you’re ever ‘done’ working on, which is why we’re in a constant state of improvement,” said Allyson Roote, director of learning and organizational development at The Bonadio Group. “We knew that having a formalized system in place would not only help boost employee recognitions, but also strengthen the camaraderie of our team.”

The Solution

The formalized system took the shape of a platform that captures and celebrates the hard work of employees. To design this system and help reinforce its culture, The Bonadio Group turned to Brand Integrity. The Brand Integrity employee recognition platform was seamlessly integrated into the CPA firm’s system, becoming a key feature on its intranet. With the social recognition feed prominently displayed where all employees could easily access it, The Bonadio Group saw an increase in platform usage and recognitions, which boosted employee morale. But leaders knew that the platform was more than just a “feel-good” tool; according to Gallup, recognition has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to a company, leading to higher retention.

Next, because accountants rely on data for decision making, The Bonadio Group leveraged the Brand Integrity platform to conduct a survey that measured employee engagement. Survey results are analyzed and shared with team leaders at the firm. Through these results, each team leader gains a clear action plan to help improve the culture, or at the very least to modify or adjust specific areas identified in the results. With periodic check-ins and specific deadlines, team leaders hold themselves accountable, rather than being micromanaged through the process. 

Our Results

The recognition platform has been in place for several years now, and with the introduction of the employee survey, it’s hard to contain the surge of excitement felt at Bonadio. Recognition activity has been on a steady upward trend, reflecting the firm’s financial growth. Turnover has decreased and productivity continues to rise. And, most importantly, The Bonadio Group is making strides toward its goal of delivering the ultimate client service. In fact, the company’s Net Promoter Score, used to gauge the loyalty of a firm’s customer relationships, is three times greater than the reported average for other accounting firms. “We’re on the cutting edge in our approach to clients,” said Jeffrey Halik, senior director of marketing and business development. “Brand Integrity enables us to keep that cutting-edge attitude and is helping us succeed in our goal to continuously improve our client service capabilities.”


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