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Providing connection and calm 

When the coronavirus arrived, CPA firms had to develop new ways to show their employees that their wellness and mental health were important. These three firms tackled the challenge head on with innovative employee outreach. 
April 18, 2022

By Zach Shoaf, CPA 

Baker Tilly 

Jaime Westerfeld, senior manager of people solutions

Promoting wellness: The Silver Linings Collection has multiple programs and resources for team members. The “Silver Line-up” is a carefully curated lineup of digital events and timely articles designed to improve the total mind, body and spirit wellness of team members and their families. Events included yoga and meditation, trivia nights, comedians, cooking classes, fitness activities, sing-a-longs for children and more. 

Fostering connection: The firm encouraged local offices and teams to stay connected in the ways that made the most sense for them. Some had virtual working sessions to replicate in-person conference rooms via Zoom. The Baker Tilly CEO hosted monthly livecasts with employees and the D.C. market had monthly “connect” calls to share good news, provide firm updates, showcase great work and recognize team members.  

Asking for feedback: Baker Tilly asked employees for feedback as they approached a year of remote work and discovered “an overall theme of gratitude and appreciation,” Westerfeld said. “One team member commented how, despite the challenges and unknowns of the last year, Baker Tilly had still provided them with career growth opportunities, and they appreciated the sense of positivity and transparency.” 

Future support: Baker Tilly learned what worked over the past year and will continue evaluate and provide a wellness program with offerings that support the whole self. 


Multiple offices in Virginia: Chesterfield, Norfolk, Richmond Tysons 
Jana Panneton, human resources manager

Easy info access: The DHG intranet contains a COVID site — a one-stop-shop for all employees for all things COVID-related. The site emphasizes health as a top priority and contains many resources for employees around both mental and physical health and well-being.  

Solutions to promote life and work: A program DHG had in place before the pandemic proved useful. “Energy for Life” sessions on energy management were given to all employees as a part of their annual learning requirement. The firm also offered a benefits suite of solutions like backup dependent care, concierge caregiver support, a robust employee assistance program including online counseling sessions, virtual doctor’s visits, a health and wellness program, access to a meditation app, and financial planning and coaching. 

Maintaining connections: DHG had regularly scheduled, transparent communications from leadership; meetings among individual markets, service lines and industry groups; and many other opportunities to connect like Zoom coffee chats, trivia nights, Pictionary, step challenges, fantasy football leagues, workouts and more. Discussion groups on serious topics like mental health and diversity and inclusion were also offered.  

Planning for the future: The firm will continue its Life-Work Solutions suite of benefits, which has been a huge success among employees. “Hey, life happens, and our employees are people with families and varying obligations and responsibilities,” Panneton said. “The more we can support them in their full and complete lives, the better. Our people are our most valued asset!” 

Kearney & Company  

Diane Jackson, human resources director

Pandemic-prepared: When the pandemic hit, Kearney was on the verge of implementing new systems and was immediately able to implement Microsoft Teams. Because the firm works on federal contracts, when the government closed, employees went remote immediately. “Teams absolutely turned out to be the best solution for us,” Jackson said. “We did not feel behind the curve at all.” 

Saying thanks: The leadership at Kearney wanted their employees to know how valued they were, so they went out of their way to send care packages and thank-yous. Team members received quarterly postcards in the mail letting them know how pleased management was with their performance. When the pandemic began, everyone received a care package with hand sanitizer, a stress ball, playing cards and other goodies. Other perks included a link to order custom Kearney swag, food delivery gift cards for celebrations or busy season work, and home office stipends. 

True connection: When doing work remote, Jackson said it was important that managers were truly checking in with team members to ensure there was no feeling of disconnection and that mental health and well-being were priorities. In addition, the firm realized it needed to offer unprecedented flexibility and expected its managers to allow that among their teams. “When faced with adversity, we definitely came to the challenge,” Jackson said. “We were able to make a lot of changes we didn’t expect. We’re really pleased with what we’ve been able to do.” 

Zach Shoaf, CPA, is a senior associate at DHG in Tysons and a member of the Disclosures Editorial Task Force.