Kelly Stofko Named a 2023 Crain’s Excellence in HR Award Finalist

by Mary Varano

Corrigan Krause is proud to announce HR Manager Kelly Stofko was named a 2023 Crain’s  Excellence in HR Award Finalist!

Kelly joined the Corrigan Krause team in October of 2020 as our Human Resources Manager and has since had a resounding impact on our firm and our employees.

First and foremost, Kelly is the main driver to the positive employee experience and incredible employee retention we have at Corrigan Krause. Because of her dedication to our employees, our firm has grown not only in numbers, but in the power of our culture. Kelly is the keystone of every employee-focused initiative, providing the strength Corrigan Krause needs to build up our employees and launch our firm into the future of accounting.

Kelly is directly involved in all these successes because she focuses her efforts in four different areas: improving employee experience and performance, increasing employee engagement and retention.

Improving the employee experience is where Kelly aims much of her focus. Communication is key to building relationships and Kelly infuses her open and gently honest communication style into every relationship. She is readily available to staff at any time. Her truly open-door policy allows employees to have a landing place to get their thoughts or feelings in order so they can make the best decision for them in a given situation. Through Kelly’s career counseling, employees are able to find a path forward right here at the firm.

This open line of communication is also a lifeline for employees who are at risk of disengaging from our firm. When Kelly identifies a staff member who is dissatisfied or unhappy, she takes time to bring the employee off site for lunch and a candid conversation. From there, she’s schedules regular check ins with the employee to help them build a path to their next step.

Kelly regularly checks in with all our staff, but particularly the administration team that she directly manages. When she took over the admin team in 2021, these employees functioned more like individuals than a team. Kelly set up monthly meetings with an open agenda so the group could not only air their concerns in a safe space, but also get to know each other and find common ground. These meetings and check-ins have improved the engagement of our admin team who now have an average tenure of over seven years.

Kelly’s commitment to continuing to improve our employees’ experience starts before an employee is part of the Corrigan Krause team. Kelly championed our firm hiring its first dedicated recruiter because Kelly knows how important those first interactions with a prospective employees are. With our recruiter focused on attracting and screening potential employees, Kelly is able to focus more on successfully launching new hires into their career at Corrigan Krause. Kelly acts as our new hires’ lifeline as well in their first weeks, ensuring they’re connected with the right resources, set up, and regularly checking in.

Corrigan Krause opens our doors to interns throughout the year, and this is another group Kelly shines with. She leads our internship program, from interviewing to completion. Since joining Corrigan Krause in 2020, six interns chose Corrigan Krause as their first full-time employer. All of these now associates are still at the firm and all are taking a unique career path, specializing in the accounting they’re passionate about.

Kelly’s communication has also been integral to revamping the annual evaluation process at Corrigan Krause, which is part of improving employee performance. Every year, employees meet with Kelly and their direct managers to discuss how the past year went and what the goals for the coming year will be. Kelly streamlined the process so leaders and employees now work in tandem to create goals and with Kelly by everyone’s side.

The evaluations are one way Kelly helps to improve employee performance. She’s also the champion of the expansion of Corrigan Krause’s learning and development resources. As an accounting firm, many of our newer staff is eligible to sit for CPA exam. This four-part exam is intense and each part takes weeks or months to study for and it’s a challenge for CPA candidates to keep track of scheduling exams, downloading results, etc. Kelly developed a personal relationship with representatives at the major study program provider that allowed our firm to automate most parts of planning and scheduling the CPA test times. This alleviated much of the stress surrounding the exam, leaving our CPA candidates more time to focus and study. Kelly also makes sure to keep our marketing department updated on our employees’ progress so our whole team is able to celebrate every section of the exam our employees pass.

Additionally, Kelly is leading the implementation of our firm’s learning management system. This software will consolidate all our training resources so they’re available to our employees in one convenient location in addition to tracking CPE credits which are required for those holding CPA licenses. Information is key to building our employees’ knowledge base, which is a big part of advancing in their careers at the firm. By making it easy to access more information and training on their own time, Kelly is empowering every employee at Corrigan Krause to improve their performance.

Increasing staff engagement is a byproduct of all Kelly’s efforts in improving employee experience and performance, but Kelly also helps to plan and execute our firm’s employee engagement events. From family fun day to tax deadline celebrations to volunteer days, Kelly is supporting our staff every step of the way. During our busy season, you can find Kelly wheeling the snack cart around every “power hour”, stopping to check in with everyone in our office.

We’ve also won a number of company culture-based awards during her tenure: Northcoast 99, The Plain Dealer’s Top Workplaces, Smart Business’ Smart Culture Honor, and Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead 100 award.

All of us at Corrigan Krause know how lucky we are to have Kelly on our team. She is genuinely invested in every staff member and continually looks for ways to improve our firm. She keeps us inspired and striving to reach new heights. Every team should have a Kelly.