Given that most accountants spend their days looking into other people’s and business’ financials, it’s surprising how common it is for them to be kept in the dark about the performance of their own firms – but that’s starting to change at the top firms, which are sharing more and more information with staff.

These efforts at transparency not only help employees feel more engaged with the success of their workplace; they also give high-performing talent insight into why they should plan a long-term career with the firm, and a sense of what they can expect as a potential partner.

Consider the approach at Wilkin & Guttenplan, a 2017 Best Firm to Work For in New Jersey: “Employees are engaged in all aspects of firm operations and planning for the future,” the firm reported. “This includes transparency of information from management and strategic plans for growth and culture that include the multigenerational perspectives from the entire staff.”

The frequency and format of the information-sharing vary from firm to firm. Rochester, N.Y.-based Best Firm Insero & Co., for instance, brings its 124 employees together for off-site meetings twice a year “to help all understand how we are doing financially, discuss future growth plans and recognize employees.”

Both Wisconsin’s Smith & Gesteland and St. Louis’ Anders hold three meetings a year to discuss the firms’ financials, while Arlington, Texas-based Best Firm PSK brings its 51 staff together quarterly for a firm-wide lunch “where the managing partner reviews financial status, future growth and introduces new staff,” followed by a Q&A session.

Openness doesn’t always need to be in person. Camp Hill, Pa.-based McKonly & Asbury holds firmwide meetings three times a year “to provide general information about the firm, a strategic and financial overview of the firm and the performance year to date, as well as the future initiatives to come,” but its partners also send out a monthly update to all staff “to share goals, financial information, spotlight segments, keep employees informed of upcoming events and value the importance of our culture.”

Meanwhile, in Boston, the CEO of Wolf & Co. “communicates firm financial performance regularly via quarterly webinars,” and in Atlanta, the MP of Smith & Howard “sends an e-mail to all employees every other week to give updates on the firm's financial performance, individual and/or team accolades, project statuses,” and more.

In the end, what’s important isn’t how the information is shared, but that the firm is willing to be more transparent in the first place, giving staff the feeling that they understand – and are contributing to – their firm’s overall success.

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.