Collins Bar­row Ottawa LLP

Ottawa Business Journal - HR Update - - Awards 2009-10 -

Any per­son – or busi­ness – bred out of the 1960s can ex­pect to un­dergo rapid trans­for­ma­tion, and Collins Bar­row Ottawa LLP is no ex­cep­tion. Hav­ing prac­tised un­der a num­ber of names and weath­ered the “work hard-play hard” ex­tremes of the 1980s, the firm has now set­tled on a solid iden­tity and work-life pol­icy that’s serv­ing its team well.

The lo­cally owned, full-ser­vice pub­lic ac­count­ing firm pro­vides ad­vi­sory ac­count­ing, as­sur­ance, tax, in­sol­vency and bank­ruptcy ser­vices to a range of clients. As its name sug­gests, the firm is a mem­ber of the Collins Bar­row Co­op­er­a­tive, a na­tional as­so­ci­a­tion com­prised of in­de­pen­dent ac­count­ing firms.

“Our work­place has seen dra­matic change in re­cent years,” says Randy Tivy, manag­ing part­ner. “The old ‘work hard-play hard’ cul­ture from the ’80s and ’ 90s has been re­placed by re­quests for a bal­anced life­style and an em­pha­sis on fam­ily. We have had to change our busi­ness model and HR poli­cies to ac­com­mo­date th­ese changes and at that same time con­tinue to grow the firm and meet the needs of our clients.”

With a large ma­jor­ity of staff ei­ther study­ing for a pro­fes­sional de­gree or want­ing to ex­pand their work ex­pe­ri­ence, the firm has in­tro­duced new HR poli­cies, in­clud­ing paid study time, paid exam fees, paid pro­fes­sional dues and 40 hours of pro­fes­sional de­velop- ment per year. Other poli­cies in­clude em­ployee as­sis­tance plans, well­ness ben­e­fits, time off in lieu of over­time and a ma­ter­nity ben­e­fit plan. Plus, a new in­vest­ment in se­cure re­mote ac­cess tech­nol­ogy al­lows peo­ple to work from home.

Th­ese in­vest­ments have not gone un­no­ticed or un­ap­pre­ci­ated by staff. In this year’s Em­ploy­ees’ Choice Awards sur­vey, staff con­sis­tently noted the per­sonal care and sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment.

“The firm has a strong vi­sion of where it wants to be and the type of ‘tech­nol­ogy world’ that we want to live in ... em­pow­er­ing em­ploy­ees to ex­plore al­ter­na­tive work ar­range­ments,” wrote one. “It is ex­cit­ing to see where the firm is go­ing.”

An­other said: “My or­ga­ni­za­tion takes a real, per­sonal in­ter­est in the peo­ple who work here, and pro­vides men­tors to each per­son, so that my own goals and ex­pec­ta­tions are known to se­nior man­age­ment, and then I am pro­vided the tools and ex­pe­ri­ence to al­low me to reach those goals and ex­pec­ta­tions.”

“Part­ners/prin­ci­pals are gen­uinely car­ing peo­ple. They take the time to know our names and our spouses names, and are al­ways open for ques­tions or in­put. I feel priv­i­leged to work at this or­ga­ni­za­tion,” noted a third.

It soon be­comes ap­par­ent that the per­sonal touch is an in­ter­per­sonal skill that is ad­vo­cated from the top.

“Al­though our clients ap­pre­ci­ate our pro­fes­sional skills, we also have rec­og­nized that there is a need for as­sis­tance with the soft skills,” says Mr. Tivy. “We have for­mal­ized train­ing that has been cus­tom­ized to our in­dus­try and our firm and in­cludes com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, writ­ing skills, in­ter­view skills, et cetera.”

Staff mem­bers also have the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in non-client-re­lated work, such as mar­ket­ing, pre­par­ing and de­liv­er­ing a course/sem­i­nar, re­cruit­ing, as­sist­ing with the firm’s buddy pro­gram and be­ing in­volved in the an­nual busi­ness plan and bud­get.

The bot­tom line, as one em­ployee told Mr. Tivy, is that staff mem­bers feel they are “more than just ac­coun­tants” at Collins Bar­row Ottawa.

L-R: Tracey L. Page, Randy Tivy and Robert Rock.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.