[IMGCAP(1)]Culture is everything in my firm. By keeping it positive and in-line with the needs of my employees, everyone is happy, more productive, and will stick around for the long haul.

At New Vision CPA Group, 70 percent of my staff is under the age of 35, including two principals. With a young, fresh vibe, we maintain a pretty hip culture. Every day is casual day (jeans and logo wear). We support an open workspace office (no boring gray cube walls that only serve to separate individuals and put the kibosh on shared creativity).

And for the majority of my staff (those who aren’t on the phone much that is), earbuds have become a standard part of the dress code. Listening to their favorite tunes is calming and helps break up what can be a monotonous day…especially during tax season.

Even my senior partner is embracing the new culture and loving it. In fact, I think he may be out shopping for a new iPod as I write.

Culture is king. In fact, I truly believe that culture precedes strategy in the scheme of things. My thought: if small changes like casual dress and ear buds keep my employees happy and productive, I’m all for them. My firm’s culture supports the way today’s employees want to work. We made a work-style shift to enhance our culture and keep our superior employees on staff. Best move we’ve ever made!

I think everyone would benefit from a quick culture evaluation in their own firms, just to see where you might need to implement improvements. You’d be surprised at what the little things mean to your staff.

Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is a Certified Public Accountant experienced with Complex Federal & State Income Tax Compliance for Business & Individuals. Jody is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, where she teaches Taxation and QuickBooks Courses. She is part of Intuit Trainer Writer Network and speaks nationally on various Technologies and Taxation. She can be reached at www.newvisioncpagroup.com.