With the holiday season here, you might find yourself watching your favorite seasonal movies, cozying up with a cup of hot chocolate and spending time with loved ones. Or, maybe during this time of year, you work late, are generally more grumpy and only care about money. Which leads to the question…are you an Ebenezer Scrooge?! Let’s find out…
We’ve all seen the many different versions of Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic “A Christmas Carol,” but have you ever wondered which character in the film you relate to most? The story follows a greedy businessman, Ebenezer Scrooge, who notoriously makes his accounting clerk Bob Cratchit work late for very little pay. Throughout the film, Scrooge is forced to confront his selfish behavior and ends up changing for the better. As accountants, this story might hit a little close to home. Let’s go over a few tips to help you avoid turning into a Scrooge at your accounting firm. (And don’t miss our silly, but fun, quiz at the end to see just how “Scrooge-ish” you are!)
Expecting your employees to work late consistently is going to lead to nothing but burnout. If you find your office always working overtime during the week and on weekends, try taking a step back and asking yourself if it really is worth it. Sure, you may be getting a little more work from your employees in the short term, but the long term negative effects are far worse, including higher turnover rates, a toxic workplace culture, sick employees and increased stress levels for everyone involved.
According to research, long working hours can literally kill you. A study by the World Health Organization discovered that working 55 or more hours weekly is associated with a higher risk of stroke and dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working 35 to 40 hours a week.
Don’t be like Scrooge, who never let his employees have any time to themselves. Even when Scrooge let Bob Cratchit have Christmas Day off to spend with his family, it was done begrudgingly. Instead, enthusiastically and proactively give your workers plenty of time off and encourage them to take care of their mental and physical health. Healthy and happy workers are better for business, considering these employees are more productive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cultivate a good relationship with clients
We all know clients can sometimes be difficult, whether they’re late sending in important documents or won’t stop pestering your office with phone calls. If this sounds like your clients, it might be hard to have patience and maintain a good professional relationship with them.
To avoid coming off as frustrated or unprofessional to your clients, consider investing in a client portal. Having the right tools in your toolbox can help you manage difficult clients and even transform them into an easier client. Having a client portal could help you cut down on the time spent on the phone with clients, since you will be able to communicate back and forth within the portal. Sharing documents is a lot easier as well and this might help clients get their information in on time.
Aside from equipping yourself with the right tools to make it easier to work with clients, you should also try getting to know your clients. Do you see your clients as walking money bags, or as actual human beings? If you see them as walking money bags, then you have some work to do when it comes to being less of an Ebenezer Scrooge.
Even doing small and simple things, like sending clients a happy birthday note, or a Happy Hanukkah or Merry Christmas email, can make them feel valued and more likely to stay on with your accounting firm.
Maintain a good relationship with colleagues
It’s pretty obvious that keeping a good relationship with your clients is crucial to running a successful accounting firm (they are the ones who pay the bills after all!) but maintaining a good relationship with colleagues in the office is just as important.
You don’t have to be a boss to potentially contribute to a toxic work environment. To draw an example from “A Christmas Carol,” sure Scrooge was pretty much the worst boss ever and created a horrible work environment... but, Bob Cratchit wasn’t really great at advocating for a better workplace either. If you do work for a Scrooge, try to take the initiative and stand up for yourself and your coworkers to create better working conditions. Aside from that, make sure you are treating your colleagues with respect and making an effort to be a team player. This doesn’t just help you avoid a bah-humbug attitude—it can actually help business as well. When employees are happy, productivity tends to increase as well.
Be generous and give back
Giving back to your community and putting an emphasis on generosity in the workplace is great to do year round, but oftentimes there are way more opportunities to focus on generosity around the holiday season. Try to take advantage of possible service projects available this time of year and even consider hosting a company-wide service project—whether it be volunteering at a local soup kitchen or working with local charities to make care packages for the homeless.
So…still not sure if you’re a Scrooge in the workplace? Take our quiz to find out! Keep in mind, this quiz is just for fun and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Share your results with us in the comments below.
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