Give them back their time

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One of the hallmarks of employers of choice is that they recognize that “time in the office” is not a measure of employee value, and the Best Accounting Firms to Work For are no exception.

Older models that subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) encouraged the belief that longer hours at your desk were a way to demonstrate commitment and value to the firm are disappearing from top workplaces in the profession, and being replaced with the understanding that employees’ time is precious.

This is often backed up by specific company policies to promote shorter hours: At Virginia’s Homes, Lowry, Horn & Johnson, for instance, the firm maintains a 7.5-hour workday all through the year, while in Hanover, Pa., RLH CPAs has a 37.5-hour workweek.

Knowing that they’ll make exceptional demands on the time of many of their staff during tax season, the Best Firms often institute programs to give some of that time back during the slower parts of the year.

Consider, for instance, the “Friday Fadeaway” at Wichita, Kansas-based Allen, Gibbs & Houlik: “If your charge hours and client and work commitments are complete by Friday noon, you’re free in many departments to simply start the weekend early,” the firm reported.

Other firms simply declare shorter hours during the summer, like Paramus, N.J.-based KRS CPAs, which closes its offices at 1 p.m. on Fridays from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The liberating notion that no one needs to be in the office when there’s no work to do spurs still other firms, like Atlanta’s Bennett Thrasher and Vancouver, Wash.’s Opsahl Dawson CPAs, to close down for the slow week between Christmas and New Year’s.

And as a final example of the top firms’ commitment to valuing employee time, New York’s Friedman runs a Vacation Bank Program for employees who need extra time off – and 33 of this year’s 100 Best Firms to Work For similarly allow staff members to donate accrued paid time off or sick days to their fellow employees.

For more ways to create a top workplace, see 20 Days: Building a Better Firm.

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