I was recently asked to contribute to a survey of CPA Managing Partners by summarizing three unique practices that Mowery & Schoenfeld has used to hire, develop, and retain a great staff. It did not take me long to think of the following list of things that we have done.
MSLLCares is our community service program that we have allowed our staff to develop and implement with our blessing. They have made it fun, and it has initiated a great sense of bonding and community within our staff. Although the firm leadership participates, the program is really run by the staff. In 2015, we spent over 1,000 hours during the work day on these activities, with participants coding their time to code "990."
MSLLC University is another program that was developed by staff, this time with some encouragement from the leadership. The program focuses on career development and specialization, continual mentoring, and feedback. Since these are all items that young people demand from their employers today, we have found this program to be an effective way to work with our staff to develop and retain them.
Monthly Internal Newsletter
We have a monthly internal firm newsletter that probably has half the firm (including some elder statesmen) as guest contributors or regular columnists. We include a firm update, comings and goings, sports, pets, recipes, book reviews, puzzles, tax tidbits, alumni updates, an employee interview, and much more. It's 11 pages of fun and togetherness that everyone looks forward to.
All of the above have helped us to build a strong culture that engages and excites our people. It is also important to note that all of the above came directly from the staff - everything listed here is the result of us listening to our people and empowering them to take ownership and improve conditions for themselves and their colleagues.