Home » NEWS » Law & Accounting » When 2 systems ‘collide’ — HORNE unites engagement and public relations into new department

When 2 systems ‘collide’ — HORNE unites engagement and public relations into new department

KASSI RUSHING

By NASH NUNNERY

Forget the career ladder.

Millennials are looking for the express elevator to find success. And that success includes opportunity for impact, influence and involvement.

One Mississippi-based accounting firm has put a plan in action to focus not only on the strategic development of its millennial workforce but also more than 500 team members across the country.

HORNE LLP’s newly formed People Growth and Engagement team is a result of the vision of Kassi Rushing, the firm’s former director of communications. Rushing’s idea to unite the communications and learning and development departments to create a director-led team that focuses on strategic development of team members is considered revolutionary in the usually-staid accounting industry.

“We’ve created a new way to engage our team members and are getting away from the traditional system found in most accounting firms,” said Rushing. “At HORNE, we decided to ‘collide’ the two – engagement and PR. There is a crisis in our industry for talent and it’s very competitive. Team members are our most valuable resource.”

Millennial workers are at the forefront of HORNE’s focus on engagement.

According to a June 2016 Gallup poll, 87 percent of millennials say development is important in a job. Comparatively, 44 percent of Generation Xers and 41 percent of baby boomers say the same.  Gallup also revealed that only one-third of those polled strongly agree that their most recent learning opportunity at work was “well worth” their time.

Opportunities to learn and grow and a strong desire for development is the greatest difference between younger workers and other generations in the workplace, says Rushing.

“(Millennials) want to know how we can grow them, and we have to grow leaders faster,” she said. “HORNE is the first accounting firm in the nation to take the approach of being an anticipatory organization. Our goal is to develop a set of skills to know what’s coming and what’s here.”

Formulated by business strategist Dan Burrus, the “anticipatory organization model” works on the theory that the only constant variable in today’s business environment is change. Burrus believes organizations that are able to predict change – and have the confidence to act – have the biggest advantage in tomorrow’s market.

“When we began discussing people growth and engagement, the question that always came up was ‘what would they want to do if they knew they could?’”, said Rushing. “A continuous learning atmosphere for development and training is what millennials want. HORNE is really leading the way in changing the (traditional) accounting firm culture.”

One of those ways is an online learning platform with a growing library of more than 7,000 courses on business, software, technology and creative topics delivered by expert instructors. Known as Lynda, the program utilizes on-demand video content and is available 24/7 for HORNE team members.

“Lynda is mapping the way our team members learn,” Rushing said. “My career in communications over the past 10 years at HORNE morphed more into team member engagement. We formerly had two distinct teams. Colliding engagement and public relations is a game changer for the firm.”

HORNE executive partner Joey Havens said the new approach will benefit both clients and team members.

“In order to stay relevant to our clients, our firm must learn to anticipate change and help prepare for the opportunities before they arrive,” said Havens. “We are thrilled to be able to offer our team the opportunity to learn anticipatory skills that make them future-ready, and ensures that our firm will become more relevant to our clients.”

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