As your firm prepares for the coming onslaught known as tax season, it’s important to think beyond optimizing your workflows and tech stack to consider how to keep your team’s morale high from now through the end of April. As anyone who has worked even a few years in the tax and accounting profession will tell you, this is no easy feat, but if you plan your morale boosting activities now – before you really need them – you are likely to have a happier and more productive crew on even the most hectic days.
Here are some of my favorite morale boosters to get you started.
Build a “Wall of Fame” in your office. If you don’t already have awards, thank you notes from clients and news clippings of your firm’s success displayed prominently in your office, now’s the time to do it. Seeing these tangible symbols of the positive impact their work has will make a difference to your team, reminding them why what they do really matters.
Take time for team building. When your firm is swamped with work, it may feel as if you can’t spare a second to do anything but keep plugging away. This is exactly when you and your team should schedule time to remind yourselves that you are all in it together. Something as simple as a taking a walk outside the office, playing a game such as corn hole or having a team lunch once a week will help foster relationships that will see you through stressful days. Don’t forget to include remote employees in your team activities, too.
Celebrate anything (and everything)! Constant deadlines are enough to suck the life out of anyone, but that’s the reality of firm life. Instead of complaining, encourage your team to combat any perceived drudgery with a celebration of their choosing. You likely have at least a couple of people in your firm who love parties, so why not let them plan a Super Bowl tailgate, decorate the office for Valentine’s Day or find some obscure holiday to get everyone fired up? FYI: National Chips and Dip Day is March 23.
Relax the rules when you can. Every firm needs to have rules and standards, but bending them a little bit can help employees feel a little less stressed. Consider tweaking your dress code to allow for an Ugly Sweater Day, another themed dress up day or casual Fridays throughout tax season. You may even want to allow for additional work-at-home days or encourage your team to bring their pets to work.
Mark your milestones. Has your team filed 200 1040s, with only 800 left to go? Whoo-hoo! Mark the milestones of tax season that often go unnoticed by ringing a success bell (literally!), making a firm-wide announcement, and offering a special treat such as a catered breakfast or dinner, especially if employees will be working late. These little acknowledgments, made regularly, will build big morale momentum.
Reach out to your community. It’s easy to lose your perspective when you feel stuck on the treadmill of tax season. A good remedy for this is to look outside your four walls for community outreach opportunities. Whether you work together on a service project or make some quick client appreciation visits, connecting with the outside community can help employees refresh their outlook and spirits. When all of your busy season work is done, you may even want to host a spring fling or client appreciation party, giving your team something to look forward to.
While all of these activities will add an element of fun and engagement to your team’s workday, there’s another key to avoiding employee morale issues: focus on the bigger purpose of the work your firm and each team member does. Morale issues often arise when employees feel like what they do doesn’t matter. To this end, regular acknowledgment of individual and team contributions are fundamental to keeping morale high. Don’t overlook the power of a simple, sincere thank you given verbally or via email for a job well done; they can help to keep everyone riding high through the busiest time of the year.