Accounting firms, who generally eat their young, are all competing for “who has the best perks” in race to scoop up all of the competent new hires.
We all know that accounting culture is toxic, but aside from taking all of your allotted vacation so you don’t die at your desk like that one guy, or utilizing the loan repayment program, what else can we do? What types of employee benefits will actually improve workplace morale? Glad you asked. I’ve started the ball rolling with this list of demands that –- if heeded — could make the accounting profession a better place. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but the following workplace perks seem feasible. If you disagree or have other ideas, you can hash them out in the comments.
Cutting the Commute -– One 2011 Swedish study found that couples who commute 45 minutes or more each way are 40% more likely to get divorced than those who don’t. Those long-distance commuters also suffer more stress, higher blood pressure, and sleep trouble. Anyone who’s ever slogged through bumper to bumper traffic before or after a work day for any amount of time will agree that commuting is the worst. The commute adds extra time onto your already brutal workday; time you could be spending enjoying a work-life balance.
To cut the commuting time, firms could allow employees to work from home a couple of days a week. If you’re worried about a productivity lag with employees out of the office, don’t. According to a January study in the Harvard Business Review, working from home actually boosted employee productivity and satisfaction.
I realize that working from home isn’t always possible for onsite work like auditing, so the obvious solution here is a firm-branded chopper and a helipad. The chopper would cut my commute from 45 minutes to about 8 seconds, and I’d never have to worry about my chopper getting broken into (like my car did that one time two years ago) because I’d park it up on the roof where the homeless aren’t allowed. I’d also settle for a teleportation device once the technology becomes available.
Free Beer? –- Some companies are giving out free beer at the office. The problem with this? First, weight gain. Second, drunks driving home at 6pm (which could be fixed if the company found a competent and sober pilot to fly me home in a chopper). Third, alcohol addiction. Fourth, I’m a crappy enough accountant while sober. Not sure my tie outs will become miraculously cleaner when I’m six pale ales deep.
To combat rampant alcohol abuse, the benefit shoule be limited. One ad agency in Boston allows its workers “three to five drink credits a month, and managers can allot more to reward their charges."
Aside from extra money, more vacation, a helicopter, and free fountain pop (see below), free beer might motivate me to work a little harder. The firms could also use it as a selling point while recruiting like Dropbox does. According to the Wall Street Journal, Dropbox “touts its 'Whiskey Fridays' soon after such perks as health and dental insurance.”
Office Cat –- Many companies have started allowing dogs in the office, including Google, Nestle Purina PetCare Co, Zynga, Ben & Jerry’s, and The Daily Show, according to a 2013 Fortune article. Zynga even boasts a “wooftop” dog park and a “barking lot” outside the cafeteria. But instead of dogs, what about if the firm adopted an office cat? I’d love to take my fluffy, twelve year old fat cat in to work –- he’d probably manage a cleaner tie out than me. Not sure what he’d do for office productivity, though as he sleeps in a sun patch for half the morning, eats lunch around two, then naps for the latter half of the day, but hey, so do half the partners I know, and a cat is far better with a laser pen.
Free Monster Truck Rally Tickets — Because truck yeah.
NAP DESKS! — Workplace fatigue is a real issue that costs the US nearly $18 billion a year in lost productivity. One Harvard study found that a 30 minute nap could actually do employees some good. To combat workplace fatigue, the firm could install nap desks in all of the farm cubes. Aside from the obvious hygienic issues this raises if the firm doesn’t have assigned desks, a nap desk seems like a genius idea. After my free lunch, I could pop into my nap desk for a quick bout of shut eye before I get back to Exceling… Use the nap desk for good not evil, though. No sleeping under your desk to cut down your commuting time so you can bill more hours than the other seniors.
Free Fountain Pop -– Studies prove that the key to an employee’s heart is free food. We all get enough free food, though, with travel, team lunches, and late-night dinners. If you’re disciplined enough to order a salad for lunch each day, maybe you’ll be okay with the free lunch thing. If you’re human, you can’t resist the call of FREE French fries every now and again…and again… What I would love almost more than free lunch is free fountain pop for non-coffee drinkers. The profession has become a Diet Pepsi desert, and if the firm can afford a giant bulk Keurig and a latte machine, the firm can afford free Diet Pepsi. Free pop is far cheaper than a firm-branded helicopter and a small price to pay for my happiness.
On-site Ninja Training -– A lot of companies have started offering on-site gyms. Exercise lowers stress and reduces sick days, and could even lower health insurance premiums. My company had an on-site gym and also brought in personal trainers and Zumba instructors after work and on our lunch hours. What would make this perk even more excellent? If the trainers taught us to backflip across the office to the printer. Then, once a month, we’d roll the tables out of the conference room, gather round, and spar like ninjas. Whoever wins gets to run the firm for a whole day. This eliminates office politics and gives promotions based upon a given skill set. IT’S ONLY FAIR.