By Michael Alter, MBA
Accountants can expect to take only so much strain when putting in seemingly endless hours during busy season, but firms can offer ways to help and, at the same time, build a reputation as a good place to work. In addition, staffers can take measures to ease stress during a time when being overloaded with work tasks can be an everyday occurrence.
Firm leadership must decide the old days of endless tax-time drudgery are over and realize today's workers want and need imaginative solutions to balance life and work. Many firms offer familiar free perks, such as catered meals, massages, and exercise facilities, while others consider such perks as flu shots, haircuts, tax-return preparation, valet service, parties, and games. There are other alternatives gaining popularity, including flexible schedules, work-from-home programs, or bringing in a professional chef to bolster enthusiasm around the office.
Other work-life balance perks to consider include:
- On-site babysitting: Firms plan activities for kids and often bring in special guests like police officers or firefighters. These programs provide staffers with peace of mind and save child-care costs.
- Off-site work reimbursement: Travel reimbursement for significant others as well as reimbursement for laundry or dry cleaning, health and airline clubs, or upgrades to portable technology.
- Use of a car service: This perk can relieve staff members of the stress of going to and from work, parking, late-night travel, and car maintenance.
- Reduced hours and job sharing: Working regular Friday hours helps ease the burden of having to work most Saturdays. Some firms have brought in part-time administrative staff to share tasks normally assigned to one already-busy administrator.
- Post-season staff surveys: Assess what went well and what went wrong, ask staffers for ideas to implement next year, and ask for feedback on what perks most impacted their work-life balance during the busy season.
Ideas for staffers
Professional staff can take charge of their own work-life balance during busy season with some commonsense steps, such as making sure personal bill payments are automated, hiring a temporary house-cleaning service, shopping for convenient foods to prepare, and making more use of laundry services.
Staffers can also:
- Simplify hobbies during busy season and pick hobbies that aren't time-consuming.
- Be mindful of limiting volunteer hours during busy season.
- Plan busy season free time well before busy season sets in. Make reservations at a nice restaurant you wouldn't ordinarily visit, consider event tickets for a night out, or plan an overnight at a hotel and leave e-mail and all Internet connectivity devices at home.
- Plan an unusual and fun vacation for after busy season. Do your research to make sure you'll get the most out of your vacation time.
Learn more by reading the "Accountant’s Busy Season Survival Guide" on the AccountTown website.
About Michael Alter, MBA
Michael Alter, nationally recognized payroll expert with an MBA from Harvard University, is a spokesperson providing thought-leadership and sensible advice to help accounting and payroll professionals with practice management and building deeper and more profitable relationships with clients. Alter, president of SurePayroll, is a frequent guest of national business news programs on Fox, Yahoo, and Bloomberg News. He is also a columnist for INC.com and is frequently quoted in national news publications such as The Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur Magazine.