Modern workplaces are shifting the way they operate, from paycheck culture to purpose culture. Employees want to feel seen, heard, invested in, and to know the work they’re doing is having a positive impact. For tax and accounting firms, the struggles of burnout employees are all too familiar. Stressed, burnt out, and unengaged employees are not capable of producing the high level work your firm needs to set itself apart. In order to rejuvenate your firm’s staff and inspire the work they do, leaders need to create a strong company culture.
Company culture is the shared values and characteristics of your organization. It is the ‘what’ and ‘why’ behind the scenes and driving the organization. Here are some helpful ways you can grow an invigorating company culture at your firm.
Unengaged employees will drag down the energy of your firm. You want to provide your team with the chance to make an impact and a reason to invest in your firm culture. Creating teams and committees where possible will enable your employees to have and influence on a variety of operations that suit their interests and strengths. Tech teams, hiring committees, and volunteer networks are great ways to get your team involved. By actively contributing to the future of the firm, staff come to envision themselves as a part of that future. Engage your employees and you will be able to breathe new energy to your firm environment.
Low retention rates are a great impediment to company culture. You want people to stay at your firm, not leave it. Providing employees with a clear career path and opportunities to fulfill their potential is a great way to keep them engaged and wanting more in their professional lives. Invest in human resources in your firm and utilize their knowledge to create transparency for staff’s career paths. Not only does this ease the recruitment process, but it also enables job candidates to see the potential they have at your firm. Recognize leaders, encourage star performers, and be transparent about career opportunities.
Traditional compliance firms suffer from burnt out staff; this no secret. The work is challenging, the hours can be long, and thus retention rates can be dismal. Engaging your team at every stage can help you know what internal processes need improvement and make your staff feel heard. While exit interviews are a great tool to gage the external market, why wait until the employee is already out the door to get their feedback? Continually check in with your team members. Give them the opportunity to express concerns and create solutions throughout the year. This way, employees feel valued and problems can get solved. You cannot create a healthy environment if you are not open to change and if your employees do not have the opportunity to implement change.
To create a culture that is welcoming and healthy for all participating, you will need to be able to have good conversations. Asking coworkers about their lives outside of work builds good connection. It lets your coworkers know that you don’t just care about what kind of work they turn out, but that you care about them as an individual. That little bit of investment will do wonders to lighten the stress of the workday and fight burn out.
If you are a leader, boss, or person of any level of authority, socializing becomes even more important. The people you lead want to know you care about them, that you see and hear them. It might be uncomfortable at first but start small – ask about weekends plans or restaurant recommendations. Small investments in your team build an environment that prioritizes the people doing the work – not just the work itself. You lead the charge here, if you make it a welcoming place, others will follow.
Company culture relies on a sense of community, and community requires bonding. Similar life experiences are key to building blocks. Company rituals are a great tradition to start. Onboarding rituals, team bonding events, or simple holiday traditions are great ways to provide your team with shared experiences. It gives them something in common and something to share together.
As is the case with all transitions, creating a strong company culture at your firm can take time and might even require course correction. But if your team is open to change and committed to doing what is best for your firm, it is doable and vital for creating a firm people want to grow careers at.
For more information and tips to improve the operations of your firm, visit our blog and register for the upcoming webcast on attracting and retaining advisory talent. To learn more about future proofing your firm with advisory services, visit tax.tr.com/practice-forward.