April 29, 2016

Don't Worry. Be Happy.

Don't Worry. Be Happy.

Don’t worry. Be happy. That’s an order. OK, it’s not so much an order as a prescription. You know, mind over matter and all that. If you think happy thoughts, you’re more likely to have a happy life. By the same token, if you think positive thoughts, you’re likely to experience positive health. At least, that’s what Harvard University is theorizing.

Last week the Harvard School of Public Health announced that it is investing $21 million (for starters) in a happiness center. Their goal is to promote “positive psychological wellbeing.” In other words, they are setting out to determine whether you can think your way to good health. The notion relates to the idea of trying to prevent people from developing risk factors for disease in the first place.

Harvard isn’t the first institution of higher learning to embrace the concept of positive thinking. The University of Pennsylvania has a whole Positive Psychology Center that’s run by the former president of the American Psychological Association. Apparently, positive thinking is a very mainstream concept. You have to admit: the idea that you can cultivate ideal health by concentrating on “what makes life most worth living” (as U Penn puts it on their website) is extremely intriguing.

Here at Marcum, we’ve been experimenting with our own version of a happiness center. Our (proven) hypothesis is that happy, healthy employees lead to better client service.

Our goal is to give our employees tools that cultivate their well-being and professional satisfaction. We have programs that promote a healthy lifestyle, encourage work-life balance, further career development, and help employees feel appreciated.

As regular readers of this column know, we have a pretty comprehensive wellness program that includes things like healthy eating lunch-n-learns, friendly Fitbit competitions and free biometric screenings. To accommodate the pressures that modern life often entails for busy professionals, we offer flex schedules and job sharing. We also offer a paid sabbatical program that eligible employees can use for any reason at all – or no reason in particular – and know that their jobs will be waiting for them when they come back.

We invest in people in any number of ways, including reimbursing CPA exam fees and yelling from the rooftop (aka, firmwide email) when they pass. We also get a little loud to welcome new staff members when they join.

We celebrate individual achievement by rewarding staff members for a job especially well done. But we also place an especially high premium on teamwork and collaboration, and find opportunities to get people together for summer picnics, barbecues and birthday parties (even healthy eaters need a little cake every once in a while).

Underpinning all this are Marcum’s nine core values, which set the standard for how we treat each other. We believe that respecting and valuing each and every member of the Marcum team is a large part of what makes our Firm great. I won’t name all of the core values here, but if you’re interested, you can see them on our website.

It is my belief that the well-being and satisfaction of your employees is largely rooted in a shared sense of ownership in the company’s success. For this reason, we conduct State of the Firm meetings in every Marcum region of the country every year to make sure that everyone on the Marcum team knows how the Firm has progressed since the previous year, where we stand currently, and where we are headed. We are very transparent in sharing the facts and equally transparent in communicating how important every individual’s contribution is.

I don’t know that I can go so far as to say that a career at Marcum makes life worth living. But I’d like to think that we provide the foundation for career success and all that comes with it.

To our staff, I am happy to say, once again, thanks for all that you do.

On another note: this week found me in San Francisco and Los Angeles. I’m actually on a plane back to NY as this column reaches your inbox this morning. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to tour commercial properties in downtown LA, an area I haven’t spent much time in during my countless trips west over the last 15 years. I must say, downtown LA has undergone a remarkable turnaround. From the Staples Center, to LA Live, to the Broad Museum, not to mention the countless hotel, condominium and rental apartment buildings built or in development and the outstanding restaurants, the area has been completely transformed. So next time you find yourself in or near LA, make downtown one of your destinations.

Happy weekend, everyone.