At TBG, we have implemented a number of strategies to gather our People’s feedback and create changes to accommodate their needs and desires.
One way we have done so is through our Transformation Teams. What first started out as an idea to listen to our People and enhance the employee experience, is now two established teams of about 15 employees each spanning across all offices and levels. These teams gather insights on what problems the Tax/Small Business Advisors (SBA) and Audit Teams are facing and how we, as a firm, can support them, make changes, and overall improve their day-to-day life at Bonadio.
Over the past few months, the transformation teams have implemented changes ranging from updating training processes to reducing hours during the traditional “busy season”.
Audit Transformation Team
Back in November 2021, our firm created the Audit Transformation Team. This team, which is led by Jen Wood, Partner and Director of Audit Innovation, and Lindsay Olson Thaine, Director of Productivity and Resource Management, works with the audit team to discuss what problems or challenges they are facing and how they can make these changes with the support of leadership.
“Our firm leadership is taking feedback seriously and putting the time, effort and resources into finding effective solutions,” said Jen.
Among some of the initiatives that the Audit Transformation Team is implementing are the Efficiency Centers, reimagined intern training, new feedback processes, and more.
Based on feedback that the audit team is often slowed down by lower-level audit tasks, the Audit Transformation Team took action and created a team of specialists to perform various tasks on behalf of the audit team. These tasks may include SOC report mapping, standard engagement letters, my portal/binder roll forwards, financial statement footings and more. Efficiency centers reduce the audit team’s workload and allow auditors to focus on higher risk audit activities and building relationships with our clients.
The Audit Transformation Team is also making many changes and enhancements to the auditor training process by working with Bonadio University. Feedback revealed that many teams are reluctant to take in interns due to the time investment it would take to get them up-to-speed on several tasks. Therefore, the Audit Transformation Team created intern task training videos as a part of their training process. Interns are still trained in person on certain tasks, but some of the task training will be provided in on-demand video form to reinforce learnings.
Over the past few months, the audit team has also expressed an interest in more real-time feedback as well as a qualitative metric to help them better understand their performance. As a result, the Audit Transformation Team is creating a simple feedback form where auditors can understand their performance on a scale from 1-5. This developmental tool allows auditors to learn and grow from constructive observations to become more effective.
The Audit Transformation Team is also focused on collecting data about our client relationships. A feedback form is being launched in September to understand client’s readiness, responsiveness, and respectfulness. These comments are then taken into consideration by our Partners and Principals who will work with our clients to build stronger relationships.
Tax/SBA Transformation Team
Shortly after the creation of the Audit Transformation Team came the Tax/SBA Transformation Team. This team, which has similar goals as the Audit team’s, started back in December 2021 and is led by Deb Zarzycki, Director of Tax Operations, and Deb Rivera, Director of Productivity and Resource Management.
Reducing Hours and Workload
The Tax/SBA Transformation Team’s major focus is how to keep the hours and workloads of the tax and SBA team manageable during tax season. The current goal is to keep each team member’s hours to around 55 hours a week, with 50 hours being dedicated to specifically assigned clients and 5 hours of buffer time that can be used for miscellaneous client projects, administrative tasks, meetings, etc.
Furthermore, the Tax/SBA Transformation Team is dedicated to providing flexibility and work-life balance, which is why they have set 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. as core hours for the tax and SBA teams. During this time frame, employees are expected to be available to communicate and for meetings.
Additionally, the Tax/SBA Transformation Team has implemented a clear and easy process for working from home. There are guidelines and expectations set from the start when it comes to working from home to avoid all confusion and feelings of guilt when it comes to working from home. Employees are provided with what they need and are set up with the proper equipment and IT help to facilitate the process.
This same clarity translates over to working on Saturdays as well. Tax and SBA teams are made aware of their expectations, and they can use Saturdays to get their assigned work complete, but they are not required to do so if their jobs are complete Monday-Friday. The importance of communication with co-coworkers has been reinforced with these new initiatives.
Standardization Across Offices
The Tax/SBA Transformation Team has also been working towards standardizing training, guidelines, and software across offices to promote employees within different tax and SBA teams to work together, share ideas, and have consistency across offices.
Along with the standardization of processes and software comes efficiently utilizing all available resources. This includes using current software to its full capability.
Overall, both the Tax/SBA and Audit Transformation Teams value open, honest, and frequent communication. Communication allows these teams to know what our People want and need to maintain work life balance and a better employee experience.
This material has been prepared for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Should you require any such advice, please contact us directly. The information contained herein does not create, and your review or use of the information does not constitute, an accountant-client relationship.