IPA Profile: Megan Geissinger, HR Director, Bland & Associates  

IPA Profile: Megan Geissinger, HR Director, Bland & Associates   

Firm Years in Business: 45

Main Office: Omaha, Neb.

Staff Size: 88

Personal Years in Profession: I have been an HR professional for over 12 years, including just over two years in the CPA profession.

What is the single biggest HR challenge currently facing your firm? I think like so many others, it is hiring and retention. We are fortunate enough to have an amazing referral network both internally and externally, but finding the right people is always a challenge, especially in our current environment.

And with the changing situation with COVID over the past year and a half, I believe retention will possibly become a bigger issue for us than in the past. Employees know opportunities are endless with more companies hiring remote workers, so we have to make sure we’re staying tuned in to our culture to not only remain relevant but to stand out from the crowd.

Where do you expect HR to be focusing most of its attention in the next two to three years? I think as both Bland and the world at large transition out of the COVID pandemic HR will need to play an integral part in how we stay relevant in the employee market. How do we continue to set ourselves apart from our ever-expanding competition? This includes hiring, compensation and benefits, culture, retention, etc.

What is the biggest issue or development related to compensation and benefits that your firm has faced recently? I think this is evolving as we speak. We are now navigating how to stay competitive not only in our market, but regionally and nationally as well. Competitors are hiring more and more remote workers from our employee pool, so wages, benefits and a flexible culture are more relevant now than ever.

Bland last year became the first 100% employee-owned CPA firm in the state through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).  Bland employees have historically had an owner mindset, so our partner group made the extremely important decision to become an ESOP, which involved working to change Nebraska law to make it possible.

How is Bland approaching training and staff development right now? Bland has always had a major focus on training and development, so that hasn’t changed and won’t change. We offer internal training regularly and make sure staff are aware of external trainings that are available as well. We also have an 18-month internal leadership training program for emerging and evolving leaders within the firm, and regularly send leaders to the BKR Leadership Institute.

How is HR addressing the expectations of younger professionals at Bland? How are you balancing their needs with the needs of longtime partners and staff? We survey our employees on a regular basis to gauge whether Bland is meeting their expectations. We do an employee net promoter survey every six months and an employee engagement survey every year.  We have a direct report advisor system that promotes employee development and productivity. We keep an eye on our quarterly assessments to make sure employees/managers are in line with engagement and effort. And we have a staff advisory board that is very good at keeping a finger on the pulse of our culture.

What are the most significant issues and opportunities you see with recruitment and retention in the current environment? We are benefiting from the efficiencies afforded by the remote environment, allowing us to hire some key staff that are remote that we may not have in the past. Again, staying relevant and competitive in the current environment will continue to be a focus in the foreseeable future. In addition, our diversity, equity and inclusion staff group began an initiative to focus on developing recruitment strategies to broaden our candidate pool and introduce more students to the accounting profession.

How is Bland dealing with employee engagement and corporate culture right now? Our corporate culture is incredibly important to not only our partner group, but our employee group at large. We continue to strive to have a flexible, transparent and rewarding culture in which our employees can thrive. Based on our engagement survey results every year, we develop action items to address areas of need, as well as to find ways to improve areas in which we’re already strong.

How has the role of HR at Bland changed or evolved over the past three to five years? As of late 2018, it was determined that an HR professional was needed for our firm, and that’s where I came in. Previously, our  firm administrator wore the HR hat (along with a lot of other duties), and many of our managers were handling HR tasks in addition to their ‘regular’ positions. My position is still evolving, and we are continuing to shift the mindset of employees to utilize me and my expertise.

What is your proudest achievement? Professionally, it would be receiving my MBA and HR certifications. Most recently, I was promoted to HR director at Bland, which I see as a major accomplishment considering the firm didn’t have a dedicated HR professional just over two years ago. Personally, it would have to be being the mom to my two amazing kids – 12 and 8. I am one proud mama!

The IPA community wants to get to know you better! If you’re an HR professional who would like to share your thoughts and insights in a future edition of the IPA HR Profile, let us know at mloehrke@plattgroupllc.com