By Deanna C. White
One look at the El-Paso, Texas-based public accounting firm Strickler & Prieto, LLP's website, and there's little doubt that happy, healthy employees are considered an integral part of the firm's skill set.
The international accounting and consulting firm's website features the customary list of services, such as tax, assurance and auditing, and small business accounting services, but unlike many staid and stuffy CPA websites, Strickler & Prieto also prominently features its commitment to the emotional and physical well-being of its "dedicated and fun" staff.
"The greatest asset to us is the people that make up our firm. We spend long hours together under intense pressures and deadlines", reads the website text running alongside pictures of team members enjoying themselves at the firm's annual Stress Relief Day. "This is why we let loose from time to time and create an atmosphere very different from most firms."
Managing Partner Phillip Strickler said promoting the firm's commitment to its employees in "all areas of business" is a solid marketing strategy aimed at clients, prospective clients, and future employees in a business culture where people are beginning to look at the wellness of the whole employee as an integral part of daily operations.
It's also, Strickler simply says, the way the firm likes to treat people.
"We believe there's a direct link between commitment and employee well-being. It gives our employees a sense of purpose and dedication to both our firm and our clients, and our clients are able to experience this commitment with the services that we provide them", Strickler said. "This also allows us to attract referrals from satisfied clients and recruit employees due to our reputation."
The annual Stress Relief Day, held the first Friday after the March 15 corporate filing deadline, is designed to allow employees to reboot their systems after the crushing pressure of that deadline. The event draws employees out of the office for a day of fun, food, and team-building exercises at various locations.
"We're always so busy and wrapped up in business, but this gives us the time to clear our thought processes and be more focused for the next deadline", Strickler said.
Strickler & Prieto employees also say one of their most gratifying team activities is the firm's Community Impact Day, when employees volunteer to beautify the property or host ice cream socials for the children at the Lee and Beulah Moor Children's Home in El Paso.
"It's just really nice for us to be able to work together as a team to help other people and have fun at the same time", Senior Tax Accountant Laura Lizardo said.
Lizardo said she can't underscore how important it is that Strickler & Prieto are willing to invest in her well-being – particularly during the arduous tax season – not just because it makes her feel better physically, but because it shows the firm cares about her as a complete individual, not just as an employee.
"Even if it's just something simple, like chair massages or filling the pantry, it really means a lot", Lizardo said. "As a public accountant, you get to hear what other firms are doing, and I know for a fact that many local firms don't offer these types of benefits. It makes me feel like the firm is investing in me, and it really makes me appreciative."
That type of loyalty, in terms of staff retention, motivation, and, ultimately, just working in a place where people enjoy coming to work, Strickler said, is priceless.
And, Strickler said he's more than happy not only to provide it, but to take part in it.
"Just like everyone else, I've worked in stuffy firms where people never talk to you and you never talk to anyone else . . . it was very impersonal", Strickler said. "But this new generation of employees is very involved in working together as a group, and they expect certain types of workplace benefits. That fits our culture here at Strickler & Prieto. This is a fun place to work, and everyone here, including our partners, likes to work hard and play harder. It motivates all of us to do more."