February 21, 2020

The Ultimate Brand Ambassadors

happy face balloons

Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of reader mail in response to this blog. I always appreciate it when readers take the time to share what’s on their minds. That’s true even when some of you disagree with me – which was the case when I vented last week about Wells Fargo’s refusal to break three $100 bills for me as a non-customer. And, as promised, this is not an apology.

The notes that always make my day are the ones that come from someone who says they’ve gotten to know our firm through a Marcum professional who has done a great job for them. It tells me that our firm is fulfilling its brand promise.

Accounting is a service business, and our leadership team sets very ambitious goals for the client experience we want to create. We work very hard to make sure everyone who is part of our culture knows what those goals are and lives and breathes them, day in and day out. Ultimately, we need everyone on our team to act as a brand ambassador to deliver on our promise to you, our clients.

I thought about this as I looked at Fortune’s new “Best Companies to Work For” list. This year, Hilton topped the list, followed by Ultimate Software, Wegmans Food Markets, Cisco, Workday, Salesforce, Edward Jones, Stryker, American Express, and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, in that order.

Hilton was the first non-tech company to head the list for two years in a row, thanks to generous benefits, like 12 weeks of paid time off for new mothers and four for fathers and adoptive parents. It is also rolling out a new employee stock purchase program.

Ultimate Software made it to number two because of its “culture of thanks,” where executives surprise team members with gifts like fresh flowers and any employee can go on a learning development trip.

Meanwhile, Wegmans made it to number three because of creative initiatives like one where produce workers can become farm-to-table ambassadors to organic farms that supply their stores.

These are very different companies but they all have one thing in common: they understand that to fulfill their brand promise, they’ve got to create a work environment where employees across the board can thrive.

Employees who like coming to work will genuinely care if beds are turned down at the right time of day, the gourmet cheese department is well stocked, or the new program is easy for customers to use. That will come across in how they do their jobs.

Of course, sometimes making sure your employees love coming to work each day takes creativity. Right now, many of our team members at Marcum are burning the midnight oil as we work to meet various financial statement and tax filing deadlines between now and April 30. No doubt there are some days some of them wish they could get home earlier and moments when they even wonder why they got into the accounting profession at all.

While the busy season crunch will never be completely avoidable, we do take employee health and happiness very seriously. Because we’re well aware our team members aren’t leading perfectly balanced lives during the weeks when deadlines loom, we offer generous flexible work policies and paid time off so they can recharge during the rest of the year. And we strongly encourage everyone to use them. And during the crunch times, we try to lighten the load in a variety of ways, from FitBit challenges and Busy Season Bingo, to pizza (and salad) lunches, manicures and massages, and more.

Making sure we go above and beyond to take care of our employees isn’t optional, in my book. It’s mandatory. As we continue to grow the company, I want every employee to come to work ready to knock it out of the park when it comes to delivering the best possible experience to our clients.

This isn’t always easy to achieve when our schedules are full – and sometimes we miss the mark. However, when I get the letters many of you send to me about the herculean efforts many of our team members make as your trusted advisors, it reminds me that all of the efforts we’re making on this front are well worth it. We’re in the people business, and when our people are making you happy, it makes me happy, too.

Perhaps if we continue to make Marcum an employer of choice, someday we, too, might be one of the Fortune “Best Companies to Work For.”