At Miami-based Kaufman, Rossin & Co., it's all about treating their people with fairness.

"We believe that treating people fairly does not mean treating everyone the same," said Jim Kaufman, the firm's chief executive and managing principal. "It means taking the time to understand each employee's specific situation and needs, and giving each person an equal chance to succeed."

Since the firm's formation in 1962, Kaufman said that the culture has always been about its people. "It's easy to say, but it's not always easy to act on and be consistent with," he said, adding that it's been an important value of the firm to help people find what they are passionate about and be in a position that fits their needs. "Perks are only really part of it."

But they do have perks.

The firm boasts an on-site gym, a sauna, and a massage room where therapists come in on a weekly basis to offer massages to employees. Yoga classes take place in the firm's community center once a week, and there is an annual weight-loss competition during tax season, complete with cash prizes. The firm also sponsors intramural softball, kickball and basketball teams. All of this stems from the firm's belief in having "joy at work."

"Joyful, dedicated employees are the reason we can provide the best client service in the business," Kaufman said.

It's a diverse staff of 270 employees. Almost half of the firm's employees are of Latin American descent. One of the firm's key partners is disabled, so the facility is fully accessible to the disabled community and the firm has provided professional services to the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis for many years.

The firm makeup also boasts a wide range in age. Many firm leaders (including the managing partner) are in their 60s and 70s, and one employee is well into her 80s and is still working with clients.

Except for partners, any professional within the firm who brings in new business receives a 10 percent bonus for the first three years of engagement, and if any employee refers a candidate who is hired, they'll receive a $1,000 bonus and $3,500 if the candidate is at the manager level.

"Employees think highly of us," Kaufman said. "One of the things we hear from visitors is the warm feeling from people in the workplace. I think they feel a friendliness and openness. It's hard to feel that artificially."

Kaufman said that the recent recession did affect the firm - management was not able to provide salary raises and bonuses across the board, and suspended employees' 401(k) match. Yet he noted that the firm consistently gets acknowledged on employee-driven lists such as this one - for example, the firm made the South Florida Business Journal's Best Place to Work list five times.

"We've always been near the top on these employee-driven surveys," Kaufman said. "It's obviously because our people feel that way and why they feel that way has a lot to do with the culture we've established over the 48 years," he said, adding that twice a year he gives a candid "State of the Firm" address.

This year the firm hosted a Summer Innovation Challenge, where any team of employees that presented an innovative business plan to management was eligible to receive a maximum of two additional paid time-off days and $3,000 to split between the group's members.

There is also a Leadership Training Program designed to build future leaders who understand and demonstrate the firm's values. The program focuses on five key areas: clients, prospects, people, innovation and technical skills.

Said Kaufman, "If our people are happy, our clients will be happy, and then our partners will be happy."

- Liz Gold

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