Art of Accounting: Retaining Staff Follow-up ideas
I have always loved accounting and tax season, but I have worked with many people who did not.
They resented many of the working conditions and had a closed-in feeling that heightened their dislike of my great profession. I resolved that when I had my own practice I would not create that type of atmosphere.
Here are some of the things I did to lighten the “burden.” These also enabled me to retain the entry-level staff I hired for longer periods. Also check out my Aug. 3, 2015 column, which contained some other things I did that enabled me to hold on to staff for longer stretches.
• Better hours during tax season
• A continuous recognition and “selling” of the benefits of tax season for staff
• Make sure staff members are presented work they will enjoy and find stimulating
• Have staff meet with clients to get tax information, sit in on such meetings, or call client for additional information and to obtain answers to open item questions
• Set up self-checking methods so less work is submitted that needs to be corrected
• Floating weekend day off during tax season
• Close the office the weekend after March 15, and the day after April 15
• Flowers or plants to the spouse or partner of a staff person, dinner on you after tax season, a surprise gift for young children of staff
• On an individual basis give tickets to a night or Saturday afternoon basketball or hockey game
• No Mickey Mouse overtime or “bonus” payments—pay for the work
• Don’t make people work late before there are actual tax returns to do
• Better scheduling of work
• Flextime during tax season and/or certainly on weekend days
• Involve staff in decision-making process on clients they work on
• Occasional surprise ice cream or yogurt treats in the afternoon
• Close the evening of Valentine’s Day (without a make-up date)
• St. Patrick’s Day beer fest at the local bar and no work that night
• Masseuse weekly to loosen tension in staff’s backs
After tax season:
• Day at a ball game
• Family picnic
• Trip to a museum followed by dinner and a Broadway show.
• Tailor-made appropriate CPE for each staff level
• Unusual CPE such as a comedian economist (they do exist and I have seen a couple)
• CPE program at Atlantic City (or similar resort) the first Thursday and Friday in May after tax season ends (with a CPE program from 1 to 5 on Thursday and 8 to noon on Friday) and give the staff money for dinner and entertainment so they don’t have to spend the entire night with you (no matter how exciting you think you are, you are a generation older than your staff and they want to have fun with people their own ages)
Try some of these and see the changes in attitude, added excitement and more fun in the office. Have a great tax season!
Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, published by www.CPATrendlines.com and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition,” published by the AICPA. Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.