Create 'One Firm'

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One key current initiative among top accounting firms is to develop a “One Firm” culture, where best practices, client service protocols, management philosophies and more are uniform across the entire firm. This can improve performance, build client engagement and, for the members of the 2018 Best Firms to Work For, significantly boost employee engagement.

At the very least, giving staff a sense that there’s an entire firm beyond their department can help with cross-selling. Employees who know the firm’s full roster of services will be able to spot opportunities in client needs, and direct those clients to the appropriate internal contacts. Never again will they shrug and say, “I didn’t know we did that.”

But beyond that, it can help employees feel part of something bigger, opens their eyes to career opportunities outside of their unit or function, and build stronger bonds with their colleagues.

Nebraska-based Best Firm Frankel Zacharia, for instance, describes its culture as “very inclusive and team-oriented” – and they specifically aim for organization-wide engagement: “All departments interact with each other and while maybe not everyone works directly with others, there is a strong sense of community throughout our firm.” The firm fosters that feeling with frequent events throughout the year, from small happy hours to office outings and family barbecues.

That emotional bond is important to Miami-based PAAST, one of whose unofficial slogans is “’One Firm, One Love,’ demonstrating the unity the firm has and how everything is approached as a family and as a whole, for the best of each of our employees.”

At Missouri’s Anders, meanwhile, the firm has created “social family trees to break down barriers. “To integrate employees in different departments we revamped our current departmental ‘family tree’ structure and introduced social family trees,” the firm reported. “Each tree coordinates one event outside of the office during work hours to have fun.”

Creating a “One Firm” feeling in a single-office firm can be difficult enough; it’s a much bigger challenge for multi-office firms like Nebraska’s Lutz. “We offer opportunities for people to interact across departments and locations, from video conferencing to office wide events,” the firm reported. “This year, our Central Nebraska offices took chartered buses to visit Lutz HQ in Omaha!”

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