The not-so-new norm
Accounting Principals adapts to remote work
When Shannon Patel joined Accounting Principals about six years ago, she was two months away from giving birth to her son. After onboarding and training, she left for maternity leave — not expecting that her newborn would be in a pediatric intensive care unit for three weeks and continue to suffer from health problems throughout his first year.
But with support from company leadership and flexible work hours, Patel was able to balance work duties with caring for her son, who has Down syndrome. This workplace standard continues amid the pandemic with “no question,” she says, as she balances remote working and helping her son with online school lessons.
“The support I got from our team [from] Day One was amazing,” says Patel, who is now a senior manager in the company’s Parker+Lynch consulting group. “It was very much, ‘Whatever you need, we’re here for you. We believe in you, we hired you for a reason.’”
This camaraderie is a pillar of the Jacksonville, Florida-based professional recruitment and staffing firm’s Glen Allen branch in Henrico County. But that close culture changed when the pandemic hit and employees were faced with working and socializing remotely.
“It was emotional. We’re people people,” Patel says of the switch to teleworking. “We’re in this industry for a reason — we love seeing people every single day.”
But with a drive to keep the fun alive, Accounting Principals, with its 75 nationwide offices, launched a socialization and culture committee, of which Patel is a member. The committee focuses on how to translate in-office celebrations of birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones into COVID-friendly, remote festivities.
One solution? Drive-by caravans to employees’ homes to celebrate anything from 50th birthdays to 20th anniversaries with the company. Employees would gather in a nearby parking lot in their cars with a gift basket and other treats prepared to leave for the person of honor. Other new social events have included small outdoor, masked and socially distanced gatherings and virtual happy hours.
“Culture is very important to us across the board and we want to be sure to keep that intact,” Patel says.
Accounting Principals, along with its Ajilon and Parker+Lynch divisions, also places a strong emphasis on continued education and training. During the pandemic, trainings and classes are being held virtually, but also more frequently, says Natalee Rinaca, a senior business development director for the company, which provides executive search, professional consulting and temporary staffing services. Its roughly 3,600 employees come from varied backgrounds, including human resources, sales, accounting and legal.
“The way people work is changing,” Rinaca says. “Our company has done a great job with developing new initiatives and creative solutions to work within those changes and then made sure that employees are all being trained so we can continue to develop and adapt the way we need to.”
That dedication to continuing education and trainings is what Rinaca (who has been with the company for nearly 14 years) says makes Accounting Principals a great place to work, on top of the company’s flexible work hours, leadership support for remote working challenges and efforts to keep company culture intact.
“I think a lot of people are very grateful to not only have jobs but have jobs that they enjoy and they can do successfully from home,” she says.
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