When people think of Busy Season in accounting, they normally picture accountants and CPAs working long hours with piles of paperwork on their desks and very little sleep. While this may be the case sometimes, it isn’t always–and since Busy Season is over, we wanted to take some time to show you how Busy Season isn’t always just about 60 hour work weeks and endless cups of coffee. In this series titled “What firms Did For Their Staff During Busy Season,” we wanted to show people the amazing company culture and invaluable sense of camaraderie that many firms establish in order to help their staff get through Busy Season happy and healthy.
The first firm we would like to feature is RSM US LLP. With over 91 offices and 9,000 employees across the country, RSM just celebrated its 90 year anniversary of servicing clients. Their values consist of respect, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and stewardship, making RSM a great company to work for and be a part of.
We interviewed Jennifer Busse, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition, who gave us the ins and outs of what makes RSM great and how/why keeping employee morale positive during Busy Season is so important.
Why is it important to keep morale high for staff during busy season?
We think it’s important to not just keep morale high for our staff during Busy Season, but beyond. If you don’t have people engaged in your organization, then they will not be motivated to do their jobs or service your clients. We make sure we take care of our people and treat them all as individuals, thanking them for the service they provide for the firm year round.
For Busy Season in particular, when our staff is working especially hard, we give a little extra effort to make them feel appreciated. It’s similar to someone having a birthday. You acknowledge them and give them just a little more attention on that day. Because if our staff’s average work week is 50 or 60 hours and they’re going above and beyond to service our clients during this time, it’s important to show that we care. We do that by giving them extra perks and helping them feel more connected to the company.
What are some of the fun activities your firm does during Busy Season?
There are many things that we do for our staff during this time, but the most important thing that all of our activities revolve around is health and wellness. What makes us different is we encourage our staff to do what motivates them, which is why we had different activities across our enterprise. We catered breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the week and on weekends; there were workout classes such as soul cycle and dance; healthy snack breaks at the 3 o’clock hour; community service projects in the middle of the busy week to give back to charity; and bringing in animals for our staff to play with as well as provide them with massages to relieve stress.
At RSM, we also recognize that the whole person comes to work, and that means it also affects their families and personal lives. So we try to get as most connected to our staff as possible. Multiple partners opened up their homes this past Busy Season to host barbecues and gatherings so that they could get to know their employees and their families. We believe that interacting and cross pollinating both inside and outside of work is key humanizing everyone in the company and building relationships. This allows our staff to love where they work, and that kind of culture is invaluable as it affects productivity and overall wellness.
What’s your advice for other firms/CPAs going through busy season for next year?
Busy Season is a part of life. In our industry, it will always be there, and it’s important to figure out how to work smarter than harder. The best advice I can give is to understand that importance of protecting your time. Make sure you’re focused on learning agility so that the next time you encounter the same situation, you can build upon it. Every year will be different as you progress and move up in your career. With that being said, remember to take the emotion out of it. Voice your needs and communicate them in order to get yourself through. And don’t be scared to try something new even if a partner says this isn’t the way it’s been done for 5 years. At RSM, if we can do something faster that’s more efficient and effective, we will give it a try. We believe it’s important to work together and move forward, whether you’re a tax processor, admin, staff, receptionist, or partner. It takes everybody to get through Busy Season together.
Lastly, know that Busy Season shouldn’t be used as a marker to determine good times and bad times. This isn’t the end. There’s always going to be ups and downs. It’s up to you to use your resources and make the best out of it. Everyone is in it together and is wearing different shoes to meet obligations and metrics. Evaluate this past year and see what you can do next year to make things better.
All service industries have their own Busy Season. At the end of the day, it’s about learning and seeing things from others’ perspectives and working together to move forward and do great things.
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We’d like to thank RSM US LLP and Jennifer Busse for their time and participation in this series.