CPA firms aren’t exactly known as trendsetters.
But some firms, such as Kreinces Rollins & Shanker of Paramus, which brands itself as KRS CPAs, are willing to take a chance if innovation might lead to an improved and more productive workplace.
About a year ago, KRS unveiled a bold concept, unlimited paid time off, that seemed at odds with the profession’s buttoned-down image. The early experience has largely been positive.
“We found that the unlimited paid days off policy worked out very well,” said KRS Partner Maria Rollins. “It’s proven to be a good recruiting tool, because it enhances people’s quality of life. In an industry like ours, where the flow of work can be very heavy during tax season, for example, it’s a big stress reliever. We were initially worried — we instituted unlimited PTO in January 2017 right in tax season — but we monitored performance and it has really worked out really well.
“… We have central scheduling software that keeps track of workflow and appointments,” Rollins added. “I can bring up everyone’s activity list for week or more in advance. How the staff finishes the work is up to them. We use technology to coordinate activities. For example, as part of our flexible working environment, one staff accountant with a small child works from home one or two days a week.”
Phone calls can be transferred directly to remote work locations. One employee, an accountant who’s been with the firm 13 years, recently moved to Florida but continues to work for KRS full-time.
Benefits such as unlimited PTO or flex time — used by some of the firm’s hourly employees — mean the company’s employees can make more decisions and “appreciate the flexibility,” KRS Partner Gerald Shanker said.
“When people finish their work, they can take time off,” Shanker said. “I’ve seen some people work until 8 p.m. to wrap up, because they wanted to take the next 10 days off.”
Rollins said a review of the bottom-line results after one year of unlimited PTO at KRS was positive.
“We reviewed our time runs and found that in total fewer hours were logged, but there were more billable production hours,” she said. “That indicates people are working more efficiently. They’re working straight through to finish assignments, rather than putting them down and picking them up later.”
Added Shanker: “We’ve always had low turnover, but now we’re down to zero turnover. And clients like that, because it means our staff is familiar with their business. [In the past] the big concessions [were that on Saturdays] you ‘only’ worked 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and you could wear a sports jacket instead of a suit. I resented that [though I’ll admit] if I leave our office early and someone else is still working, I feel guilty.”
But he still manages to walk out the door.