It’s been several years since the Intuit® Tax Pro Center visited the topic of building morale. Whether you are running your firm in a regular environment, or during the highs and lows of COVID-19, boosting your staff’s morale is always important. I spoke with several of our authors to find out what they’re doing to motivate staff, as well as what they tried that didn’t work. Here’s what they had to say.
Diana A. Crawford, CPA – Crawford, Merritt and Company
I keep my staff motivated by random acts of kindness. Recently, I went on vacation, and in my absence, the staff did a major clean of the office. I rewarded them with some fun gift cards when I returned. As to what didn’t work, I wanted to improve our client communications, so I bought some books on the subject, and said I’d pay a bonus for a summary of the book and suggestions on how we could improve our communications. Cue the crickets.
Cassidy Jakovickas, CPA – MBS Accountancy Corporation
The 2019 tax filing season has been the LONGEST ever, and it’s definitely been challenging to keep the team motivated, with endless deadlines and continuous COVID-19-related tax and business changes. With the team working a combination of in-office and remote, constant communication has been our major motivation tool. We started daily morning huddles when COVID-19 hit and kept with it, allowing us to constantly address and remove obstacles to keep the team moving forward. When the April 15 deadline turned to July 15, the team was already exhausted, so we gave everyone an extra day of PTO to recharge. However, we were all still extremely busy and no one took the time off, so that was a bit of a motivational flop!
Josh Lance, CPA, CGMA – Lance CPA Group
One morale booster for us was investing in our team’s self-care. We implemented a program through Zestful, where we put $50 on their card on a monthly basis to use for what provides them self-care, and then we share and keep each other accountable. One person might purchase some books through Amazon, while another may sign up for a virtual yoga class. We feel that prioritizing our team’s self-care helps boost company morale.
Jackie Meyer, CPA, CTS – Meyer Tax
We keep staff motivated by providing creative benefits that invest in their personal health. For example, after hearing how much they hate cleaning, I began reimbursing the team for housekeepers. It’s one less thing to worry about in their personal life, as they work virtually for us from their home. You won’t believe how many times I hear them bragging to others about this small perk! We’ve also tried doing a group virtual workout, but it doesn’t seem to work quite as well because everyone prefers different workouts at different times of the day. Instead, we now use a goals app to report when we have done fun workout challenges.
Bhairavi Parikh, CPA – Analytix Business Solutions, LLC
To keep your essential staff motivated, allow them to participate in the decision making process. If they feel respected for their skill and talent, they will motivate the entire team. Here are some other ways you can keep your employees motivated.
- Provide leadership support.
- Evaluate team’s job satisfaction.
- Trust your team.
- Communicate with clear objective.
- Recognize efforts and reward.
- Provide growth plan.
Andrea Parness, CPA, CTC – A. Parness Company CPA
Boosting office morale used to be easy when we were all working in the same location, and the six of us could gather around our table for a surprise lunch of great hand-made brick oven pizza from Brooklyn, local Jamaican barbecue, or sushi. We would work on The New York Times crossword puzzle, giving each other hints and additional clues. We would torture unsuspecting telemarketers who were unlucky enough to call us during lunch, asking them for answers to the sports questions.
Spontaneous bonuses might not be in your budget right now, but letting your staff know how important they are to you and how much you appreciate their hard work is even more important during stressful times like this. Since March, most of our office has been working remotely. I now have three staff members permanently relocated in other states. For me, of course, it’s all about communication, caring, and connection. Our long-running group text – filled with photos of sunrises, beautiful meals we have prepared, deer encountered along morning walks in the park, scholarship notification letters, report cards, and even a wedding – has helped us feel connected. The replies that are filled with emojis and encouraging words put a smile on our faces – the same way hearing the familiar jingle from the Mister Softie truck and the shoutout “Who wants ice cream?” used to feel.
Ian Vacin – Karbon
One piece of feedback we got from an attendee at one of our roundtables hits the topic. A partner/owner had a policy that every staff member could fire one client at the end of the year – no questions asked. The empowerment of the team to make a simple business decision was so motivating that the team members kept a list and would manage the priority order of whom they would want to fire. Everyone looked forward to the end of the year, when they could submit the firm they no longer wanted to work with – a great example of taking a serious negative and turning it into a positive.
Vanessa Vasquez – QuickBooks en Espańol
Motivation comes from finding solutions to problems and helping others. That is something that I live by. That is my motto. Creating strategies for our biggest problems during a crisis is super important because it creates the possibility for business and a whole team to succeed and grow. If you are not growing, you are dying.
Accountability projects with clients, partners, and colleagues need to be consistent, and if you are not consistent, then it does not work. During a time of change, it is very important to be able to be accountable for the improvements, challenges, and new ideas that are getting implemented.
Sandra Wiley – Boomer Consulting, Inc.
Respect! It sounds ridiculous, but if we would simply communicate with staff, give them interesting work, tell them what they are doing well, share how they can get better, and TRUST them to do the right things, then they will stick with you and grow into amazing team players.
Timothy Wingate Jr., EA, CTC – G+F Business & Financial Consultants LLC
I can speak to motivating my clients. I’m intentional with everything I do for them, whether it’s celebrating a birthday, Mother’s Day, or other milestones. I say please and thank you for everything I request of them, and show them that I’m willing to put in as much work as I am requesting them to do. So far, everything that I attempted has worked. I guess I’m blessed.