People-first culture is vital when stakes are high
by Andy Harding – Director of Practice Development
Who knew that it would continue on for more than a year when it first began? Yet, it is in difficult times that framework and corporate personality are the fiber that gives a workplace luster, makes it shine among coworkers and deliver for its clients.
The past year left many companies creating, embracing and accelerating their processes for: telecommuting, remote work policies, video communications, in-office employee procedures, and other operational strategies brought on by the global pandemic. This unpredicted event and its uncertainty affected all of our firm employees, but no more so than parents with school-aged children at home. They faced changes and adjustments that were immense.
As with all our associates, this group and others within the Firm are so talented and so good with clients. How would we respond? As I was soon to discover, it was now time for our firm and culture to answer the call.
With the initial closure of school facilities and the continuing hybrid learning plans, the distance between the working world, the parental roles and the personal life became blurred and culminated into one large web of working parents at home teaching. While some have relatives, friends or neighbors to call upon to patch together combinations of teaching and childcare strategies like learning pods, most are forced to work it out on their own, with parents and children working and learning together every day.
We have many associates at all levels of BRC (Bernard Robinson & Company), and many of them have children with school and childcare needs that must be met at home on a daily basis. Assurance manager Kristen Hand, CPA, chronicles her challenges in a blog, “Tales of a First Grade Homeschooler.” She details her personal journey of what it is like to balance being a manager, a wife, a mother, and a first grade educator.
How did BRC’s culture help the firm deal with the unique circumstances brought on by the pandemic? CEO Alisa Moody says prompt decision-making, being adaptable, and putting people first are paramount.
“Just like the rest of the country, we had an immediate crossroads moment. A moment in time that marked a point of change where the choices made had lasting impact on the ability of our employees to adapt and cope with their new reality, “ said Moody. “We reacted to what we presumed would be a temporary situation. We followed our disaster preparedness plan, and we were easily able to rely on our infrastructure to shift virtually every member of the firm to working remotely. For those few who remained in person, we closed each office to all visitors to further ensure their safety.
“The first concerns were practical and technological. What we had never planned for was the additional impact the shift to online learning would have on the realities of working at home. Nor did we initially have to think about whether the flexibility needed to ensure the safety of our staff, clients and their families would be monetarily, physically or mentally sustainable.
“The stakes were high for us as a public accounting firm. Our people are key to success of our firm, and maintaining our high functioning teams throughout the crisis was key, not only to withstanding it but recovery as well. But our culture has always been based on one underlying mandate: to put people first.”
Moody also provided some essential strategies that kept BRC focused on its people-first culture. These strategies can be applied in your company:
- Be flexible in all your internal communications and demonstrate understanding.
- Be flexible in all your scheduling and allow compressed daily and work week concepts.
- Support the transition to working from home with procedures and monetary allowances.
- Stress that all associates set boundaries between work time and time off.
- Build internal social connections and town hall meetings to prevent corporate remoteness and personal isolation.
Moody said culture continues to be key to the success and its individual team members. “We strive to engage with our associates and develop solutions together that balance corporate listening, client support, business operations, economics, and an evenhandedness to everyone’s situation to ensure support is always available.”
To learn more about working with BRC as your accounting and advisory firm or about joining the BRC Team and taking part in the culture that associates so greatly cherish, contact me, Andy Harding, for further details.
Andy Harding Chief Development Officer
Andy serves as BRC’s Chief Development Officer (including marketing, corporate communications and Firm growth). Known as a bold and successful innovator of practice growth, Andy has over 25 years in the accounting industry and extensive knowledge in positioning complex services for CFOs and other “C-level” executives. Andy heads BRC’s strategic growth initiatives firm-wide in […]