Accounting professionals can advise clients and follow our own advice when it comes to leveraging the Tax Code to improve employee well-being.
It has been stressful to say the least working from home for my counseling and education work. I have to finance my own containment costs. I did not receive any allowance or support for additional equipment, furniture, increased utility payments, food and personal effects needed to prepare for distance learning, conduct business in a fully virtual environment and stay healthy and mentally healthy during lockdown. The college system I work for didn’t provide me with any equipment, and I ended up using up my cell phone as I used it as a second screen for virtual lessons. The loss of the school provided a space for a change of scenery to grade and prepare for class was a bit devastating. Fortunately, schools are offering mindset and mental health training, and converting lessons into virtual lessons.
I can only imagine how people working in corporate environments who had never worked independently or from home before were able to adapt to working from home. As the year draws to a close, companies need to remember that employees are stakeholders too.
A recent Robert Half survey found that many accounting professionals are feeling exhausted. Accounting is a demanding profession, filled with inter-departmental and customer meetings and requests, constant deadlines and often heavy workloads. The nature of work has changed. Well-being matters. The pandemic has shown us another side of what the support and structure looks like for lasting success. Health care costs and healthy habits can be expensive, as can personal development and social activities.
Fortunately, employers can take advantage of the Tax Code to alleviate some of the physical and financial stress that employees experience and also benefit from tax benefits. Sections 125, 127, and 139 are a few parts of the Internal Revenue Code that can help employers provide employees with holistic wellness benefits for modern living and pandemic requirements.
Here are some tips for accounting firms to advise their clients and internal teams to invest in employee well-being:
Organizations should strive to create safe spaces and structures where people can work in peace, not in pieces. Employers should take advantage of the Tax Code and work with benefit management companies and HR to provide employees with all the tools they need to do their jobs and perform well. Those charged with governance, leadership and management should be committed to making the job work for everyone. Businesses and departments need to outsource, automate, delegate and eliminate tasks, processes, etc., so that employees can focus on their work and have a life outside of work.
Solopreneurs and small businesses can work with companies like Gusto and see what companies like Summit Group are doing to set up employee wellness and support programs.
The cost savings and benefits include less turnover, burnout, absenteeism, lost productivity and long-term illness. Sitting is the new tobacco, and working a certain number of hours a week decreases productivity. Businesses can benefit from better results and a better reputation for job satisfaction, improved effectiveness and efficiency, and lower costs associated with attracting and retaining new employees. The Great Resignation showed us how much employees value their well-being rather than change and status.
Imagine a workplace where employees have an active lifestyle, mental supportive treatment, support, personal development, financial well-being, time with loved ones, social life and community engagement.
What are the benefits that can help employers provide such a quality of life while taking advantage of the Tax Code? Below are some elements:
- Flexible contributions to savings account and health savings account;
- Personal development allowances;
- Home work allowances;
- Funds to set up ergonomic home offices;
- Fund for physical activities of choice;
- Birthday and Life Event Gift Cards; and
- Virtual Meeting Meal Gift Cards.
Employees can use these perks and perks during working hours with their preferred vendors and vendors to engage in activities of their choice, including therapy, acupuncture, functional medicine consultations, business coaches and communities and business development retreats. They can also use the benefits for faster repayment of student loans, certification courses and fees, books and courses, and healthy, filling, nutrient-dense meals.
How will all of this benefit the employer? Healthier, happier employees add more value to all stakeholders. The reputation of the organization can increase and make it a more attractive employer. Communication and interaction between team members and stakeholders can improve.
Do we really need a business case as to why we should be doing everything in our power, and as the Tax Code and our resources allow, to make the job work for everyone and to support people? that make the success and results of our organization possible?
The benefits that you and your customers provide to employees may need to be viewed and adjusted to better meet current employee needs and to ensure that the benefits align with wellness goals. Flexibility and the choice of personal lifestyle goals are important. The benefits really outweigh the costs.
We can be good because we are good and there is a tax code for that.