Motivating your team to work longer hours during tax season.

I know it’s tax season and the last thing you need right now is to read a long newsletter. So, I’ll be very brief.

A question I get A LOT is: “how do I motivate my team to work longer hours during tax season?”.

What I’ve discovered is that what works for one person or team, can fall flat for another. Much will depend on the makeup of your team and firm culture.
I will share just one of the strategies we’ve been cultivating for a number of years here that has gained very good acceptance and appears to be working well.

We have a big white board in the middle of the office that everyone can see. Team members are encouraged to put out challenges to the rest of the team. Challenges may be things like, “I will buy a large milkshake (or a beer) for any person who puts in the more hours than I do on a given Saturday”. And, of course, the challenger will sign off on his promise on the whiteboard. Some of these challenges are very interesting and sometimes outright creative, weird, and very funny!

One of the most memorable challenges I recall here is when Dan (a veteran at our firm) challenged the bookkeeping team (who were mostly new hires with limited experience) to produce more tax returns combined (and there were 6 of them) than he could on a specific day. The bookkeepers jointly accepted Dan’s challenge and the game was on. 

Unbeknownst to the bookkeeping team was just how competitive Dan is. By the time the bookkeeping team rolled in at 8:30 a.m., Dan already had about 20 or so returns done and completed. He had come in at some ungodly hour of the night to start his marathon before anybody else showed up. 

By 9 pm that night, when Dan finally decided he had had enough, he had completed 52 personal tax returns. Much to his chagrin, the bookkeeping team beat him, having completed 70 tax returns on that day. So, between the 7 of them, the firm had completed 122 tax returns in that 24-hour blitz. Not a bad way to catch up on all those returns that need getting done.

I would love to hear your stories about how you go about motivating your team during tax season when work is abundant. 

And finally, tax season is a good time for a good laugh. If any of you have really good tax season stories to share (preferably funny ones), please send them to me. I would love to share those stories with our readership.

Please send those tax season strategies or funny stories to