Jansen Valk Thompson Reahm PC (JVTR) makes sure its hardworking accounting, tax, and consulting experts are excited to get up in the morning by taking steps to make it’s office is a great place to work. “Up until about five years ago, the culture here was a very traditional public accounting culture. That meant suit and tie every day; you used to punch a clock, work on Saturdays, and sometimes take work home with you depending on the time of the year. The only fun part of the day was when you talked to each other,” says manager Keith Hayden.
In recent years, the company has completely rejected these once-accepted norms. For example, last summer, the entire staff boarded a trolley and embarked on its annual mystery trip, which they later learned would be a day filled with picnicking, bowling, mini golf, and laser tag. In another teambuilding initiative, coworkers regularly cheer each other on during annual ping pong and foosball tournaments held in JVTR’s remodeled basement. In fact, employees are encouraged to take incremental breaks each day to either improve their game, or simply have some fun. According to Hayden, “The quality of work is much higher now and the work we do is more diligent because you feel good about yourself. You don’t feel chained to the desk.”
One of the most exciting things about these initiatives at JVTR is that they begin at the employee level. All of the tournaments and trips are all proposed, planned, and organized by individual team members. “Putting in the ping pong table and the foosball table was approved by the partners,” says Hayden, “But they allowed staff members to take the lead on it. The foosball tournament and ping pong tournament, the summer picnics that we have organized, and the mystery trip are really about allowing the young staff members to volunteer and take the initiative.”
This is important in a time where companies are trying to attract and retain top talent in the region. JVTR, a firm that has enjoyed 99 percent client retention since its formation in 1996, is now also benefiting from a focus on the opinions and wellbeing of its team members. “Times are changing,” says Hayden, “It’s a lot more common to change jobs than it once was. Before I started here I was switching public accounting jobs, looking for a place with the right culture. It wasn’t necessarily for the money, a promotion, or opportunity for advancement—culture is really starting to matter to people.”