[IMGCAP(1)]We all know it’s busy season. It’s not like I’m bringing up anything new. You’re busy, I’m busy—everybody’s busy! And when I say everybody, I’m including partners, professional staff and administrative employees.

As a partner I feel the chaos of busy season, as do you. But now is the time to remember that our team members feel the same level of craziness and are making the same sacrifices to get the job done.

In times of chaos, the best remedy is to maintain a work environment that people want to come back to. Of course, during busy season, it takes more effort to make this happen.

In my own firm, I always want to preserve a positive culture, because I know that staff loyalty is far stronger when the culture is good. This was confirmed for me during a visit to Zappos, the online shoe retailer, last fall. I was able to experience, first-hand, the vendor’s self-defined “Happiness Culture.” That’s what I wanted for my firm.

On March 15, my firm unveiled our new mascot and bringer of happiness—Knuckles, the New Vision hedgehog. Knuckles is red and cuddly, and could be a distant cousin of Sonic. During a few busy season dark hours, Knuckles sent out emails to employees delivering certificates for family dinners, tanks of gas, and massages. It was a small effort to show our appreciation for late nights and weekends in the office.

[IMGCAP(2)]In the heat of the March 15 deadline, our employees felt the gratitude and the positive nature of our firm’s culture. It’s the little things that speak volumes…and keep your great employees with you.

What does your firm do to show appreciation? I would love to get more ideas!

Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is a Certified Public Accountant experienced with Complex Federal & State Income Tax Compliance for Business & Individuals. Jody is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, where she teaches Taxation and QuickBooks Courses. She is part of Intuit Trainer Writer Network and speaks nationally on various Technologies and Taxation. She can be reached at www.newvisioncpagroup.com.