As a tax business owner, you know the importance of constantly looking for ways to reduce costs. Over the next four weeks, we’re going to help you by sharing four of our favorite cost-reduction strategies. We’ll start by taking a deep dive today into the benefits of increasing workplace efficiency.
Workplace efficiency has a sort of domino effect to it: Every time you practice efficiency in the workplace, you decrease the amount of time (and money) you need to spend in order to get things done right, the first time. When things run smoothly at the office, you have happy employees. Of course, happy employees = happy customers. And happy customers = more referrals, better contracts and ultimately, higher profits.
Study after study has proven the most effective way to increase workplace efficiency is to cultivate a positive work environment where excessive stress is proactively reduced and in the best case scenario, prevented altogether. In fact, The American Psychological Association estimates that more than $500 billion is siphoned off from the U.S. economy because of workplace stress, and 550 million workdays are lost each year due to stress on the job. These findings are especially true for you as a tax business owner—after all, stress, long work days and fatigue visit your office more than you wish they would.
Your company can be different. As the boss, you have the power to create (or re-create) the culture of your company whenever you want to—yes, even during tax season. Your employees are looking to you to get a feel for how they should be treating each other and how they should approach their work. If you’re creating an environment where your employees feel valued, secure, supported, and respected, a natural by product is increased workplace engagement and efficiency. Furthermore, a positive work environment increases employee loyalty and decreases the costs associated with recruiting, hiring and training new employees.
To Create A More Positive Workplace, Make It A Priority To:
- Show your employees you care about what’s important to them: Is someone on your staff vegan? Honor their eating preferences next time you bring lunch into the office. Does someone have a kid about to go to college? Put together an empty-nester survival kit for the parents that are left behind. Is an employee about to run to their first marathon? Get them a desk frame for the picture they’ll get crossing the finish line. Thoughtfulness goes a long way.
- Make staff meetings enjoyable: Next time you start a staff meeting, instead of jumping right into the agenda, consider asking everyone at the table to share some good news, a funny story about something that happened to them recently or to offer a compliment to the person that’s sitting next to them. Consider working in pop culture updates during your busiest seasons—after all, a little Hollywood gossip goes a long way. This one little step can make a normally very boring staff meeting something your team actually looks forward to.
- Get your hands dirty: If you have a new or younger employee that’s overwhelmed by their to-do list, actively look for ways to reduce their stress. Especially if you’re a senior level staff member. Help them prioritize. Give them the opportunity to delegate certain tasks to others. And if you really want to score bonus points, stop what you’re doing, pull up a chair next to your employee and help them do what needs to be done.
- Deal with conflict quickly. Avoid blame and be quick to forgive mistakes. Facilitate honest, healthy discussions. Give everyone the opportunity to be heard. Validate how people feel. And ask everyone to discuss how to avoid the problem from coming up again.
- Plan team-building days. Surprise your staff with an unexpected day of play when they show up at work every so often. Take your team to the blockbuster movie that everyone’s talking about. Sign up to do the local charity walk together. Hire someone to facilitate an adventure challenge off-site that requires people to work together to solve a problem.
- Be flexible – Acknowledge the fact that productivity peaks happen at all different times of day. Allow people to work from home or late at night if they prefer in lieu of forcing them to adhere to the standard 8-5 schedule.
- Recognize great performance – Celebrate employees of the month. Or during tax season, employees of the day. Have fun with this part. Consider picking up a tasteless trinket at your local thrift shop. Then, let your staff know the only way to get their hands on the trinket is to be the best performer of the day. Pass it around the office on a daily basis and watch faces light up when your people get a little peer recognition and a tasteless trinket to prove it. And whenever possible, give bonuses and raises. This may seem counterintuitive when you’re trying to decrease spending; however, remember: happy employees are more productive employees.
- Create a hopeful environment – During your busiest and most stressful seasons, it can be difficult to remember, this too shall pass. Consider positioning a countdown clock to April 15th in the highest trafficked areas of your office. Your team will appreciate the reminder that this won’t last forever. Next to the countdown clock, you might also post something that tells your team you’ve got a surprise for them to enjoy April 16th. Don’t tell them what it is but do tell them it’s really, really good (and make sure it is.) Hopeful anticipation has a special way of motivating people during challenging times.
When you regularly encourage team collaboration, point out what your staff is doing well, make your team feel like you really care about their needs and preferences, and simply make your office a place that’s pleasant to be, you’ll save thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars over time.
Next week, we’ll look at the ways you can reduce your business costs through negotiating contracts. Be sure to check back then so you don’t miss it!