Just like at the Kentucky Derby, the gates have sprung open and accountants are in the sprint for busy season. Alas, our busy time lasts much longer than two minutes. We've got a quarter of a year to wear ourselves out before we hit the finish line. CPA Practice Advisor checked in with some of your brethren to see how they're planning on maintaining productivity, wellness and office morale during the long, dark months ahead.
Pep Rallies and Healthy Snacks
At Buffalo, NY-based Freed Maxick CPAs, the firm kicks off busy season with its annual State-of-the-Firm meeting the second week in January. Part pep rally, part update about the firm’s year-to-date performance, and part social gathering, this event sets the tone for busy season by boosting employee morale and providing context and focus for the effort that are expected from all staff from January through April.
According to Chief Marketing Officer Jennifer Hamberger, starting in December, prior to the “traditional” busy season, Freed Maxick's HR Department begins to send out regular memos about busy season expectations regarding hours, attire, security, and so on. The constant reinforcement ensures that employees are prepared to meet the company’s expectations and also provides them with ample opportunity to ask questions or suggest ideas for improvement.
Working extra hours is a given so the firm provides a variety of healthy snacks (fruit, yogurt, breakfast bars) as well as special busy season lunches and Wednesday night dinners catered by local caterers.
In addition, the firm's Employee Assistance Program (EPA) is available as an employee resource. This service provides free, confidential support for any issues pertaining to work/life balance/wellness – as well as additional counseling benefits.
Physical Activity and Remote Working
Robinson, IL-based Kemper CPA Group directs a lot of attention to employee wellness during busy season. The firm encourages short, group walking breaks, stretching, fitness events, and other exercises not just during busy season but year-round. In the spring, staff members keep the juices flowing by taking turns brining in dishes for group lunches, and the firm provides breakfasts on Saturdays.
Tonya Dale, director of communications at Kemper CPA Group said the firm supports videoconferencing for meetings, rather than travel, which allow time for efficiency gains and helps prevent the need to make up travel time. Also workers are allowed to work remotely.
Nurturing, Fitness, and Date Nights
Letting the staff know the firm cares is important at Gross, Mendelsohn & Associates in Baltimore, MD. Linda Pietras, director of human resources, said the firm makes a point of scheduling semi-annual performance reviews in January. Each staff person has an in-person meeting where goals and expectations for busy season are discussed. In addition, on the first Saturday of tax season, the firm hosts a Situational Awareness and Assailant Force Evasion Training (SAAFE-T) program to ensure that people who are working late are equipped with knowledge of avoiding and surviving unsafe situations.
All kitchens are stocked with healthy snacks and fruit, and a healthy option is included with lunch which the firm provides on Saturdays. Up to two Saturdays can be taken off during busy season. In addition, Gross Mendelsohn offers a fitness challenge which encourages everyone to stay active by walking and eating right. Pedometers are provided and teams challenge each other for the most steps. Also the firm has an agreement with Brick Bodies fitness centers which offer discounted club rates to staff members.
Morale stays high with an in-house happy hour on the first Friday of each month, and professional staff members receive Fandango gift certificates and are encouraged to schedule date nights with spouses and significant others to make up for some of the long hours. Everyone celebrates at an end of tax season party.
See inside February 2014
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