Tax Busy Season Tips to Keep Accountants Happy

Busy season is among us.

Aside: For anyone asking, “when is audit busy season,” the audit busy season dates are typically from January to March. But tax season for accountants extends all the way into April 15th.

But you already know this; you’re living it. Right now, you’re probably thick into the spreadsheets trying to figure out how to claw your way out of the open work papers.

Add the stress of each one of your team members, and busy season is enough to make every accountant want to switch careers.

Stress GIF

However, since you value your employees, you also know that keeping them happy is not only essential for keeping them with the company, but also for keeping their productivity, efficiency, and customer service in tip-top shape.

So, to help keep your All-Star team with smiles on their faces during the remainder of this season, here are 9 inexpensive tax season tips to keep your accountants happy during the busy season.

1. Implement more flexible time.

Let’s face it. Nobody wants to come to work on the weekends, after working 11+ hours on a weekday. Then, on top of it all, some public accounting firms make Mandatory Office Saturdays a requirement from January through April. No thank you, burnout. 2020 left us with enough to last a lifetime.

Instead, keep your employees from throwing their computers out the window by implementing more flexible hours for work during busy season. Consider whether it’s more important for hours to be logged, or for projects to be done on time.

Your team has earned your trust, working from home successfully. Reward them for their trustworthiness by allowing them to control a bit more of their schedules with the promise that their assignments will still be done on time.

Remember: If they have to be micromanaged, they’re not ready for the responsibility of busy season. Default to believing they’re capable of self-regulating, and let their excellent and on-time work speak for itself.

2. Caffeinate them.

The days are long, and the weeks are even longer. Doing it all without coffee feels like punishment to many of us.

Offering your employees a small gift card to Starbucks can go a long way to help your staff to feel appreciated, seen, and caffeinated. For the brave souls who live caffeine-free, they can still order specialty drinks and snacks with the gift card.

3. Send a weekly personalized email thanking each employee.

Craft a personalized thank you email to your employees, including key things they‘ve done that you noticed in the past, and send it to them.

Most of your employees receive emails that will likely be either stressful, irritating or annoying. This email will be out of the blue and really meaningful to them. This gesture is simple, quick, yet effective in keeping a smile on your employee’s face.

You can mix up the weekly email with fun facts, games, gifs, jokes… the sky’s the limit, so enjoy getting creative, and the joy will be contagious.

4. Create bingo games. Bonus: Make them busy-season themed!

This action is a pretty typical event for larger public accounting firms, and it really keeps employees excited. Once a week, send bingo cards via email or Slack/Teams, and announce a new set of numbers every morning. You can create these cards for free online from sources like Bingo Baker.

Offering bingo during busy season will give your employees something to look forward to, to talk about and to enjoy. Plus the reward of the bingo winner could be something as simple as a $25 gift card to Starbucks or $50 gift card to Cheesecake Factory.

Pro Tip: If your firm has a cheekier sense of humor, consider just one bingo card full of events you expect to happen during busy season. Angry call from a client? Add it to the board. Delirium setting in from lack of sleep and too much caffeine? Put it on there.

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5. Feed them.

Another annoying thing to go through as an accountant is working 11+ hours straight on an empty stomach. Offer work incentive programs or a gift a week of their choice.

You can offer a free dinner on the company. Plus, throw in the offer to pick up dessert. Now you have your employees looking forward to hitting the 11-hour mark so they can get a free meal!

If you’re looking for smaller, more frequent rewards, consider a $5-10 gift card for food delivery services like Grubhub.

6. Listen to them.

Most of the time, management will be asked how busy season went for them, and their employees’ response will be, “Great! Everything seemed to go by smoothly.” Yet, on the flip side, you have a senior missing their husband’s birthday and a staff wishing he could just get a few more hours of sleep each night.

The only way to find out the truth of how your employees are feeling is to just ask them. Ask them through an informal meeting, a formal one-on-one lunch, or coffee meeting. Ask questions to find out how they are doing and make them feel heard. This action will take your relationship with your employees well past the burden of busy season and onto a career where you keep your accountants happy.

Pro Tip: If your office uses Slack, consider installing the free Donut app for rotating informal meetings and simple questions. The low pressure environment of these kinds of meetings makes it easier for employees to open up honestly about how they’re doing.

7. Offer “caught in the act” programs.

Let’s say your manager has just put forth the extra work to make sure the client’s financials were sent out correctly. Then, your manager took the extra step to train the intern and make sure the next engagement was rocking and rolling.

If you notice your employees are kicking butt, it’s time to recognize them publicly. Establish a “Caught in the Act” type of program for which you announce recognition of employees who deserve to be highlighted. Then tag on a reward ($10 gift card, 1-1 meeting with you, etc) to make it more desirable for the employees to want to participate in this program.

8. Create “catch up” days, and sprinkle them into scheduling.

This idea is something all accountants, especially your auditors, need to implement. A day where your accountant can stop being bothered by emails, phone calls, and chat messages. It’s a day to just catch up on the work they’re trying to get done.

Offer anywhere between 1 to 2 days per month where your accountants can choose which day is their “Catch-Up” Day. Then, remind the manager not to bother them on this day. Allow them to really feel like they’re no longer behind, and instead moving forward on their work. This action will relieve the burden of stress for your accountants who are trying to juggle multiple jobs at a time.

9. Make their lives easier with free tax workflow templates.

If you’re ready to simplify and standardize your firm’s processes and checklists for each tax form, download our free templates today. You’ll get 32 templates totally for free, and a good portion of those templates are dedicated just to tax-related work.

Want to skip the spreadsheet templates and use an all-in-one workflow software to power your firm? Try us out for free for 14-days.

Have any other tips on how to keep your accountants happy during accounting busy season? Leave a comment to share them with us!

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