Jessica Rowe
Culture Journalist

Jessica Rowe is a Melbourne-based writer with a passion for not-for-profits, the digital world and making a difference

Jessica Rowe
Culture Journalist

Jessica Rowe is a Melbourne-based writer with a passion for not-for-profits, the digital world and making a difference

Staff are the backbone of any small business. And when employees are overwhelmed or stressed, the impact often carries over to the general health of the work environment and team’s effectiveness. Here’s a guide to protecting your most important asset: your team.

For many businesses, the end of financial year means one thing: stress. And in the financial sector, it’s the busiest time of the year. The influx of enquiries, appointments and lodging puts serious pressure on staff. However, by ensuring your staff are looked after and valued, these peak periods can actually be the most rewarding.

Employees can be motivated by a number of things: growth, recognition, salary and doing work that makes them proud. But when the workload increases, motivation and morale can decrease. That’s why incentives are so important. The offer of an additional reward gives an employee that extra motivation to go above and beyond. In turn, the positive workplace environment created can also help enhance team effectiveness.

H&R Block is Australia’s largest preparer of individual tax returns. They provide tax returns for approximately 750,000 Australians every year across over 470 offices. According to the company, 74 per cent of Australian tax lodgers use an accountant or tax agent for their tax returnsthey prepare 60 per cent of all Australian tax returns. As such a major player in the financial sector, it’s crucial H&R Block develop strategies to protect their employees during such a busy time. 

We speak to tax specialist, Mark Chapman from H&R Block about how this industry leader looks after its staff. 

Man sitting at his desk

Never overlook your staff

Chapman, who has a wealth of experience in management, knows all too well the importance of keeping your employees happy. Small business owners invest a lot of time, energy and money in customers and clients. They ensure they’re always satisfied and content. But sometimes, staff are overlooked.

“I’ve worked for places that have taken staff for granted and treated staff poorly. And that generally flows through into the business’ bottom line,” he says.

“It’s essential that staff feel appreciated, they need to feel welcomed, they need to feel they’re getting a pat on the back for the work they’ve done. Like most other sectors, tax consultants are relatively thin on the ground, not that many people are qualified to do tax returns, so it’s important we maintain a workforce.”

'Thank you' goes a long way

Employees don’t always need financial incentives to feel valued: there are plenty of other ways to say that all-important thank you.

“After the tax season we hold functions in each district to say thanks to all of our staff. It’s an opportunity for them to let their hair down for a few hours, have a few drinks and get to know their colleagues – not just in their offices but also in their districts.

“H&R Block also offers awards for the best performing office. This brings teams together and builds relationships resulting in productivity and efficiencies,” Chapman adds.    

“It’s clear where staff do feel appreciated and where they get recognised, it enables greater staff retention, higher staff morale, and that turns into an increase in productivity and increased profitability. So it’s a win-win all around.

“It’s good for business, good for productivity, good for workplace morale – it’s important to look after our people."

Mark’s top tips

  1. Incentivise: From parties to awards, give your staff something to work towards.
  2. Congratulate: Let your staff know when they have gone above and beyond.
  3. Invest: During peak periods, hire contractors to help elleviate the workload from full time staff.
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Originally published 3rd June 2015. Updated 2 August 2019.

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