Accountants’ work is, traditionally, fairly sedentary – and when you combine that with the vast quantities of free food that firms ply staff members with, both inside and outside of tax season, the results can be pretty unhealthy.

With that in mind, many of the top workplaces in the profession are showing how much they care about their employees by taking a proactive approach to wellness and health, using a wide variety of tactics. (They may also, in a few cases, qualify for lower health insurance premiums.)

By far the most common tactic is making a point of offering healthy food alternatives (fruits, vegetables and nuts, for instance) to the traditional donuts and chips; a few brave firms even cut out the less healthy snacks entirely.
Besides healthier snacks, more than a fifth of Accounting Today’s 2017 Best Firms to Work For offer or subsidize Fitbits or similar step-tracking devices to their staff, and many hold regular challenges where employees compete against each other.

At Tulsa, Okla.-based Best Firm CCK, for instance, “We have provided all employees with a Fitbit device and have created a team page to track our progress as a group,” the firm reported. “This is a fun way to teambuild and show our support for each other.” The firm also promotes healthy eating and nutrition with periodic e-mail newsletters and informational seminar-style presentations.
Free or subsidized gym memberships are a common perk among the Best Firms, with some making a point of having exercise facilities on site.

And San Antonio’s ATKG was so serious about offering employees the opportunity for outdoor recreation that it was a primary requirement in its search for a new building this year. “Company bicycles and safety gear are available for use on the trails located behind the building” the firm eventually purchased, with options for walking, biking and running.

Some firms go beyond the exercise approach. At Arizona’s BeachFleischman, “Our wellness program encourages employees to participate in fun, healthy activities throughout the year. Activities include exercise, stress reduction, eating healthy food, and time with family. We also give away gift cards as an incentive to participate in events,” the firm reported. “Over the summer months, BFCo partnered with the Wellness Council of Arizona to facilitate yoga classes, breathing/meditation classes, and healthy sleeping lectures to the firm's employees. This event was called Stress Free Summer.”

Still other firms add another dimension to encouraging health, with a focus on the individual.

“We offer a comprehensive wellness program providing resources including personalized health assessments, one-on-one health coaching, customized weight management, acupuncture, chiro, massage therapists and up to 40 percent discount on wellness items,” reported San Diego’s LevitZacks CPAs.

And Cleveland-based No. 1 Large Firm to Work For Skoda Minotti aims for comprehensiveness, too, with a wellness program that includes onsite flu-shot clinics, lunch n' learns, wellness/benefit plan representatives onsite, hearing screenings, healthy snacks, and cash incentives for healthy behaviors completed throughout the year (such as getting physical, being tobacco-free, and so on).

Finally, Allen, Gibbs & Houlik gets the (entirely unofficial) prize for most practical approach to employee wellness: “The firm is located on two separate floors 12 stories apart in a 20-story building,” it reported. “As part of wellness initiatives, employees are encouraged to walk part or all of the stairs when traveling between floors.” (We should note that the firm also offers free biometric screening, along with nutrition and exercise counseling based on the results of the assessment.)

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

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Daniel Hood

Daniel Hood

Daniel Hood is editor-in-chief of Accounting Today and Tax Pro Today, and has covered the tax and accounting field for over 20 years.