Today marks the beginning of the year of the monkey, but in the accounting profession, so far, 2016 has been the YEAR OF THE DENIM. Both Baker Tilly and Crowe Horwath have announced new policies allowing jeans on any day of the week and if you work at either firm, then you're probably excited. Not welcoming-your-first-born-child-into-the-world excited, but at least you'll have less laundry to do this busy season.
Now, we don't expect every accounting firm across America to follow suit. Some firms will cling to their business casual dress codes like grim death, but they will no doubt see the efforts of BT and Crowe and think that they need to do something to let the talent out there know that they have loosened up too.
Dixon Hughes Goodman decided that its new Charlotte headquarters was going to be part of their culture shift. The firm's CEO Matt Snow and managing partner Gary Greer showed it off in this article from last week:
[T]he two executives talked about “collaborative work spaces,” standing desks and the technology infused throughout the office. They also showed me a health room for employees to meditate or for expecting mothers to relax as well as a shared kitchen space filled with preparations for a Panthers celebration later in the day.
It seemed to go above and beyond a stereotypical accounting firm. And that is part of the strategy, Snow and Greer explained.
“The physical space does link up a lot with our strategy,” Snow said. “You have to want to go into the place you are working every day and feel inspired by it.”
I'd love to hear an explanation of the difference between a conference room and a collaborative work space. If you know, please indulge me.
Unfortunately for DHG, there's no word about everyday dungarees or other denim related topics. Both Snow and Greer suited up for the interview the employees demonstrating standing desks were obviously showing Panthers spirit that ended up being a COMPLETE WASTE.
But back to the point — to hear Snow tell the story, all firms are doing some bumbling around in the dark, trying to decide how to attract new employees:
“We all recognize as a profession that we need to be attracting more talent if we are going to continue to be as relevant as we are today into the future,” Snow said. “I went to a meeting with the CEOs of all the major firms in the country in early January and this was one of three or four big topics that we talked about. How do we attract more talent? How do we become more diverse? We’re going to have to have the numbers we need in the profession.”
Which means more firms are going to be trying more things to convince up-and-coming accountants to join their ranks. But will it work? More casual dress codes and meditation classes are great, but what if it's all window dressing? Any firm that goes to great lengths to present the image that it's a loose, cool place to work but retains a entrenched culture from another era in practice will be outed fast. I'm not saying that it'll be DHG or Crowe or Baker Tilly, but none of these firms can go through the motions or they'll continue to struggle to compete with the Big 4.
What do you think? Can these mid-market accounting firms transform into something completely new? Does this make them more attractive than a Big 4 firm? Discuss.