Being a great place to work

Is your accountancy practice a great place to work?

There’s so much more to a job than the job itself. The culture of the business. The way it treats the team. Colleague relationships. All of these have a big impact on how we feel about going to work in the morning.

And the evidence is that these factors are more important than ever. Post Covid, many people have re-examined what’s important to them and they’re no longer willing to spend 8 hours a day (or longer) in a job where they don’t feel valued. Added to this is the number of Gen Z employees now in the workplace, whose priorities go way beyond just being paid a salary. They want their employers to uphold their professed values, be socially responsible and, crucially, to look after their people while they’re at work.

Benefits of being a great place to work

The world of work has changed. People want the things they’ve always wanted in addition to a salary – recognition, career development, purpose, a community. The difference is that companies who aren’t providing these things are no longer employers of choice. With the ongoing national talent shortage, accountancy firms have to compete for the best candidates. And these candidates are looking for employers who provide a lot more than a desk and a pay cheque.

It’s stating the obvious, but when your team are happy at work, they’re more productive and they stay longer. They’re also healthier (so fewer sick days), more creative, give better service and are better at handling adversity. If you Google ‘benefits of happy employees’ you’ll find volumes of research into this.

So how do you do it?

How to become a great place to work

The most important thing is to listen to your team – what do they think makes a great place to work? It comes down to treating people as they want to be treated, not how you think they want to be treated.

Just as basics:

Flexible working/hybrid working – pre-pandemic this was a holy grail; it’s become almost standard.

Learning opportunities – help your team grow and develop, whether it’s professional qualifications, upskilling in their role or something else.

Recognition and reward – we all want our contribution to be valued and recognised so make a point of praising good work.

A great team culture – a team that supports and encourages each other is a huge asset.

How Cunninghams Accountants are doing it

Great place to work - Cunninghams team day

One accounting firm that’s put their team at the heart of their business is Cunninghams. Based in Lowestoft, they have a team of 24 and recently staged a fantastic team day that started with breakfast and continued into the evening. The pictures show the Alice In Wonderland themed experience they took part in, searching for clues and solving mysteries in the streets of Norwich.

But there’s far more to it than just a fun day out. Partner Rachel Garnham explains: “We have always looked after our team but since Covid, everyone has struggled with wellbeing to some degree. We recognised we wanted a proper team wellbeing strategy but we just didn’t know how to act on it.”

Rachel stresses the need for a space where the team can talk about their issues. “We’ve always tried to be approachable but sometimes team members don’t feel they can share what they’re missing or what they need. We now run regular Career Development Reviews where we discuss their wellbeing as well as the job itself. Some of the questions that come up have made them think about things we could do at work. We can then act on that.”

As well as the team day, Cunninghams has regular lunchtime meditation sessions and also brings a masseur into the office every month.

“The team member pays for the massage but they can take that time out of the workday. With the cost of living going up, I’m also setting up a club to help the team stay healthy. Some of the team have had to give up things like Slimming World so we’ll be investing in diagnostic scales that can send a report to each member’s phone. It’s not just about weight loss – it will look at things like whether they’re hydrating enough too. The aim is for us all to look after ourselves while we’re at work.”

Rachel is even buying the team hooded blankets to help keep out the cold when they’re working from home. There’s so much care for the team at Cunninghams – it’s definitely a great place to work.


Career Development Reviews are just one of the resources that AVN provides to the accountants we work with. Find out how AVN could help your firm – book a short call with us to look at your challenges and find solutions. Book your call here.