Busy Season Is Over, Now What?
May 10, 2022 | By Katie Thomas, CPA
About the Author: Katie Thomas, CPA, is a content creator, 2021 40 under 40 CPA Practice Advisor recipient, and the owner of Leaders Online, where they help accounting professionals increase their impact, influence, and income through thought leadership and digital marketing. Feel free to visit Leaders Online or connect with her on LinkedIn to get in touch with Katie.
You’ve made it. Busy season is finally behind you. I know one thing: tax season always exhausted me, and you’re probably in the same boat.
Now is time to rest, reset, and reassess. By following these three Rs, you’ll restore your peace of mind and prepare for the coming year and make the next busy season better.
What exactly are the three Rs? Let’s find out now!
Busy Season is Over. Time for R, R & R
Rest and Reset: Time for a Break
Last year, 160 million tax returns were expected by the IRS. At the highest point of the season, calls hit 1,500 per second. Your firm may not have received this level of calls in 2022, but you can be sure everyone needs a rest and reset.
First and foremost, you should:
Encourage Breaks and Vacations
You and your team need, and deserve, a rest. It’s crucial to encourage:
- Mental recharges
Book a vacation after the busy season, and encourage your employees to do the same. Consider how you can also reduce stress while at the office. Things like hiring professionals to come in and teach meditation or even a yoga class can make a big difference.
You and your team deserve a breather.
When things get busy, it’s normal to not have as much time for teams to partake in bonding activities outside of work. Team bonding works well to give employees a break from daily routines and forge deeper bonds with co-workers. One of my favorite team bonding activities we’d do post busy season was go to a baseball game in the afternoon. Everyone enjoyed the time off work while getting to connect with colleagues in a relaxed environment.
Recognize Your Stars
After the busy season, I always felt like I had finished a marathon. For me, surviving the season was an accomplishment. Unfortunately, there were times when I was the only one to recognize this achievement.
Your team members need and deserve recognition.
Did you know that 63% of employees that feel recognized by their employers are less likely to look for a new job? At a time when employee turnover remains high, giving your stars a pat on the back can help them feel appreciated and improve your chances of retaining them.
Personal and Professional Development
Busy season quickly overtakes a person’s life. For me, it felt like work was life during this time, and I barely had time for myself. Hobbies? They had to be abandoned during the busy season if I wanted to get anywhere close to enough sleep at night. Unfortunately, the same felt true for most relationships and friendships.
Right now is the perfect time to reset.
- Revisit hobbies and relationships that have been put on hold.
- Learn a new skill or pursue an interest that you have. Maybe you’ve always wanted to take up yoga or join a book club. Now is the time.
- In your professional development, consider knocking out continuing education hours or taking courses to advance your skillset.
While resting and resetting are important, so is reflecting and planning for the future. You likely had feelings during the busy season about how it went. Now, it’s time to reassess the busy season and analyze what went right and wrong.
Reassess: What Can Be Improved?
Once you’re well-rested and have recharged your batteries, it’s time to reassess your process. What can be improved? How can you make the next season better?
First, Assess What Went Well
Busy season can be chaotic. There may have been plenty of things that didn’t go so well, but you likely had strategies or processes that did work really well for your team. Assess what went well so that you can continue with these processes or refine them to make them even better.
Here are a few ways to do that:
- Accounting Teams: Collect team feedback. No one knows your processes better than your team, so ask them what they feel worked well. Consider whether there are ways to refine and improve even further.
- Public Accountants: Gather client feedback. What did clients love about your services? How can you make these already-loved services even better?
When you know what went well, you can build on your strengths to make the next busy season more successful and - hopefully - less stressful for everyone.
Next, Find Ways to Improve
You know what went well, but what didn’t go so well this busy season? Finding ways to improve these areas will help you add value to your services and improve efficiency.
Here are a few things to consider:
How Can You Improve Workflow and Technology?
A streamlined workflow and better technology can help you and your team get more done faster and with fewer errors. Further, it often means easier, more convenient communication.
Anything that frees up time and provides more value to your firm, team, and clients is a worthwhile investment in my book.
Now is a great time to assess your current workflow process and make new improvements. It’s also a great time to implement new technology because you’re not overloaded. Look at processes that are currently manual and could be automated. For example, if the close process is taking a lot of time, consider implementing a technology solution like FloQast.
Just make sure that when you introduce new technology, you also update your processes and train users to ensure seamless adoption.
How Are Your Current Processes Affecting Your Team?
Busy season is hard on everyone, but how have your processes affected your team? Are they exceptionally burnt out? If so, it’s time for a reevaluation. The last thing you want is a stressed team that dreads coming to the office.
When gathering team feedback, ask what they would like to see changed and for suggestions on how to improve your processes. Their responses can help you implement changes to make the next busy season less taxing and avoid burnout.
Further, consider how your processes and workflows have affected you. If you feel like you were pushed to your limits, consider how you can refine them to save time.
Based on the evaluation, you can take action. For example, you may find you need to give clients tighter deadlines to turn in documents, hire additional staff to reduce the workload in general, or implement new processes for preparing and reviewing returns.
Are There Other Ways to Make the Next Busy Season Less Stressful?
You’ve analyzed your processes, but are there other things you can do to make the next busy season a little better? Technology can save you time and stress, but don’t forget to look at aspects outside of work that can be tweaked.
For example, lifestyle changes can help you feel your best even when your plate is full at the office. These changes may include:
- Adopting a regular exercise routine
- Eating healthier
- Using breathing exercises to manage stress and wind down after a long day
- Finding new ways to manage stress
With these questions in mind, you can create a plan of attack to make the rest of this year and your next busy season even better - and less stressful.
Now that the busy season is behind you, it’s time to take a much-needed break to rest and reset. Do the things you love and enjoy life a little. Once you’re rested, reassess your processes and find ways to improve. Even small improvements can go a long way in making your next busy season a much better experience for you and everyone else involved.