Art of Accounting: Tax season crunch time suggestions to keep staff motivated

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We are down to the last three weeks of tax season. Think about how many clients you will be helping, how much your younger staff will be learning, how many clients you will be speaking to, and how much money you will make. How much better can it get?

Part of managing a business is to leverage all of your resources, and I think we can agree that your most important resource is your staff. That being so, motivated and excited people are more effective than those who are not, so might I ask what you are doing to inspire them to work harder, be more responsive and more deliberate, and to produce better-quality returns? I believe this is an important part of managing. Here are some suggestions:

  • Compliment your staff a lot — each person at least a couple of times a day.
  • Make sure your staff people eat lunch and, if they work late, dinner. Both meals should be eaten without rushing.
  • Do not let anyone eat at their desk — have them eat with at least one other person.
  • If staff members have questions that a partner needs to respond to, do not delay getting back with the answer.
  • Send your staff’s spouses or partners a bouquet or plant with a thank-you note for “lending" them to you for tax season and the remaining two weeks.
  • Give each staff person a gift certificate for dinner for two at a fancy restaurant, good for after tax season, and send it on April 8 or 9.
  • Bring in a clown or magician to your office on March 30 and invite the children of your staff — for one hour maximum, say from 10:00 to 11:00, or 11:30 to 12:00 — and then bring in six-foot subs or pizza for lunch. Everyone will be gone by 12:30. Even if the people working for you only have a few children, do it anyway. We are talking about motivating your staff. People with happy supportive families work better.
  • It is important to be well-organized. Coordinate the scheduling of reviewers with preparers to reduce file “touching” time.
  • Provide surprise ice cream or yogurt during a couple of afternoons.
  • If you already haven’t done it, announce you will close the office on April 16.

Anything you do to motivate and excite your staff should result in more efficient and effective work from your most important and valuable resource. Just do it!

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. Ed is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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Tax season Tax practice Work-life balance Practice management Ed Mendlowitz