February 9, 2018

Exercising Our Core

Exercising Our Core

I attended the recent Leading Edge Alliance (“LEA”) managing partners’ conference in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. LEA is an international association of top accounting firms, of which Marcum is a founding and active member. One of the speakers was Leading Edge Founder, accounting industry consultant, former managing partner of Ohio’s once-largest accounting firm (SS&G), and most importantly, my friend, Gary Shamis. Gary, who is retired from the day-to-day of running an accounting firm and now consults with the industry, spoke about the changing workforce, millennials, and diversity.

One of the many take-aways from Gary’s presentation was the fact that millennials currently make up 50% of the workforce, with that number expected to increase to 75% within 5 years. For those of you not sure who or what a millennial is, it’s commonly defined as people born from 1981 to 1997. (Just as an FYI, Gen Xers are those born from 1965-1980, and Baby Boomers from 1946-1964. Gen Z are the newbies, following on the heels of the millennials).

Gary went on to talk about the things millennials are looking for in their work experience and environment. A lot of it makes sense, and not only for millennials. Perhaps they’re just more vocal or more comfortable articulating the things that are important to them. One of the things Gary highlighted in discussing the flexible work environment that is key for the millennial generation was the concept of “core hours.” Let me explain.

Marcum has traditionally operated on a Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:30pm schedule, plus whatever it takes to get the job done during our various annual “busy seasons.” For our full-time, client-facing associates, we expect a normal 40-hour work week, which increases to 55 hours per week if not more for many of them during our busiest times. What I’ve observed over the years, and this should be no surprise to most of you, is that we have a diverse workforce, made up of early risers and night owls. Our early birds often show up well before the official office opening at 8:30am, while the night owls roll in closer to 10am. At the end of the day, those getting in early tend to fade by 5pm or so, while those arriving later can often be found at their desks well past 7pm.

We never officially distinguished between early and late, focusing only on making sure our clients were receiving the proper service and their needs and demands were being met. So now, we’re making official what was, for the most part, happening anyway.

Today, Marcum is rolling out the concept of “core hours” in all of our practice offices for full-time, client-facing associates. Our flex-time people already have this option built into their work arrangements, and we’re exploring how to extend the same option to our administrative and support associates. Marcum’s core hours will now be 10:30am-3:30pm. So how will it work, you may ask?

Our standard office hours will remain the same — 8:30am-5:30pm. However, we are now allowing people to basically set their own schedules, so long as they fulfill their 40-55 hour weekly requirement, depending on the time of year. But they must be in the office (if it’s an office day for them) between the hours of 10:30am-3:30pm, unless they have an off-site meeting. For Marcum associates working at a client facility, we expect them to honor the client’s working hours, and when meetings or calls need to be scheduled earlier or later than core hours, we expect that our people will continue to make themselves available, as always.

Hopefully this approach works, our people realize that flexibility is a two-way street, and in return for flexibility on starting and ending hours, Marcum associates double-down on our commitment to excellent client service, without flexibility getting in the way. We are in the client services business, and evolving our workplace to improve productivity is part of ensuring we remain in front of our clients’ needs at all times. If you have any issues accessing your Marcum team members under this new arrangement, I want to hear about it. You’ll find my email address right next to this column.

Gary had 10 items on his list of changes needed in a diverse workplace, core hours being just one. Stay tuned for more to come. And thanks Gary!