Work-life balance. Community service. Culture. Your tax and accounting firm’s employees aren’t just looking for the best salary; they are also looking for the “right fit.” The core values, goals and feel of a firm are vital to engaging staff and creating happy employees who want to work hard and be productive.
Here are four tips to create a productive and happy work environment at your firm.
#1: Hire for success. Bring your staff on for more than technical ability; hire for an all-around fit. When employees aren’t a good fit, they can send negative ripples throughout the firm that impact the morale and productivity of your team. It is critical to know your company culture and hire accordingly. For example, if you have created a competitive environment where employees are driven and compete against one another to get ahead, you shouldn’t hire someone who is seeking a warm, family environment. Structure your interviews to get a clear understanding of what a candidate is looking for in a firm. It can be tempting to try and force a fit when you have a hiring need, but you are unlikely to build the workforce you want.
#2: Define what that success looks like. Give your staff something to work toward. Employees need to have a clear understanding of the expectations and goals of the firm. Take the time to set individual goals with each employee, and make sure the goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. Then, go a step further and help them appreciate how those goals support the greater mission of the firm. Employee engagement is a balance of making people feel valued and helping them understand how they fit into the big picture.
#3: Empower your employees. Unleash the power of your team. You’ve hired them and given them goals to strive for, but they can’t meet their goals if you don’t give them the tools they need. Training, trust and respect are critical elements in job satisfaction and productivity:
- Training – When you train your team, you not only give them knowledge, but you are also letting them know they are valued, while affirming your commitment to their personal and professional growth. Employees who feel their firm is invested in their future are happier and more motivated.
- Trust – Productivity increases when employees feel safe to share, and where communication is honest, frequent and transparent. People will stretch themselves to go above and beyond expectation when they know it’s safe to try, fail and try again. In the modern workplace, flexibility is an extension of trust. Employees want greater flexibility and employers are being challenged to believe that work will get done outside the traditional parameters of office space hours. Offering flexibility is another way of making employees feel trusted and valued.
- Respect – Interpersonal interactions in the workplace play a significant role in employee happiness and job satisfaction. Foster an environment where you embrace individual differences, where you listen to and not dismiss new ideas, and where it is okay to agree to disagree. When conflicts or issues arise, approach the situation with a desire to understand and improve, not judge or punish. Respect and trust go hand in hand, and there is the old reliable Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
#4: Have some fun, together! Employees spend more time at work than they do with their families and friends. It is essential to offer opportunities for them to relax and engage with one another in a fun and social way. Plan fun, team-building activities to help them come together and get to know one another in new ways. Openly celebrate success. Offer ways for your team to participate in community service activities as a group. Stress saps productivity, so create a space where employees can take a break from work to relax. Having fun makes people happy … and happy employees are productive employees.
People are most productive when they have job satisfaction. Job satisfaction doesn’t come from a good salary or unlimited personal time off; it comes from feeling as if you are a valued member of a team. The happy, productive workplace you desire is within your reach if you hire deliberately, meet common goals, empower your team and have some fun.
Editor’s note: If you liked this article, check out one of Debbie’s other articles, “How to Create a Career Path for Your Staff When Advancement Isn’t Possible.”