Invest in people as people
Accounting firms have to offer technical training to make sure staff can do their work, and they often develop leadership programs to fill the gaps in their succession plans, but the Best Firms to Work For are going far beyond that to help employees improve themselves for themselves.
This often means offering professional development opportunities that go beyond strictly what the firm needs, giving staff the opportunity to burnish their soft skills, upgrade their resumes, and sometimes add new abbreviations after their names — and just as often it means classes or opportunities that aren’t about work skills at all.
One of the most common forms taken by the latter are on-site personal development and stress management courses, which are offered at 70 of the 2018 Best Firms to Work For. At Florida-based MBAF, for instance, the firm’s MBAF University offers “Life & Culture” classes on everything from meditation and yoga to painting and dressing for success.
On the professional development front, New York-based Insero & Co. has “Focus on People!!” — an “advisor program that focuses on individual career goals, challenging opportunities, and assistance in gaining exposure to different clients and departments.”
Wilkin & Guttenplan in New Jersey, meanwhile, makes a significant investment in staff professional and personal development, with buddy programs, coaching, training and educational workshops that focus on both technical and soft skills, as well as offering employees “personalized growth plans that play to individual strengths.”
And Virginia’s Kearney offers a range of professional development opportunities that include training, tuition reimbursement, certification bonuses and mentoring. The firm has also partnered with George Mason University and created a graduate certificate program in government accounting.
Miller Grossbard in Houston also reaches out beyond its own walls for help: “We utilize outside consultants, not from our industry, to provide personal and professional development for our team members,” the Houston firm reported, with the most recent example being the use of a corporate anthropologist.
Taking individual employee development to a new level, Virginia’s YHB CPAs “shifted its reporting structure and developed what are now known as ‘Leadership Circles,’” the firm reported. “This concept allowed managers and supervisors to play a larger role in mentoring and caring for staff members. In addition, the shared camaraderie of seeing staff develop and promotions occur gave their ‘circle’ pride in knowing they helped play a role in it. This concept also helped to launch our informal check-in meetings and strategic goal-setting, and most importantly it enhanced relationship-building. This approach allows our people to discover their passions, find help for their weaknesses and unify as a firm. Everyone shares in the success and failures.”
And since sometimes you need some time to yourself to reach your full potential, eight of the 100 Best Firms to Work For offer paid sabbaticals so eligible employees can grow on their own.