Tax relief

Even though tax season is no time for accountants to take a vacation, the Columbus staff at Schneider Downs & Co. Inc. spent a day at the beach last March.

Well, not exactly at the beach, but at a beach-themed party the firm hosted for employees and their families to help break the stress of working 10, 12 or 14 hours, six days a week.

Nearly all of the office’s 30 members attended, even though they were swamped with work, says Bill Apple, the shareholder who heads the tax department.

“We usually can twist people’s arms to get them out,” he says. “We want them to be conscientious about their work, but they need to have a good balance there.”

Also during tax season, Schneider Downs tries to keep Fridays fun by providing bagels or pizza-or hosting an ugly tie contest. In addition, staff members can nominate each other for awards to keep motivation high. At the end of tax season, an April 15 blowout awaits at a local party house with hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine-and taxis for rides home.

Such stress breaks are carried beyond tax season, too. Apple occasionally provides pizza for his staff during a late night of work.

“I think you just have to realize that you need to look for a balance,” Apple says, “and just do little things to try to make them feel like they’re being appreciated. It doesn’t always have to be something big that you do for everyone.”