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Bookminders’ Jennifer Whitmore Recognized at Women in Technology 25th Annual Leadership Awards Gala

COLUMBIA, MARYLAND, May 13, 2024: The 25th Annual Women in Technology Leadership Awards Gala, held on May 9th, was an evening of celebration and recognition for exceptional leaders in the technology sector. Among those honored was Jennifer Whitmore, Director of Technology and Communications at Bookminders, a finalist in the Corporate Small-Market Sector category.

As a finalist, Jennifer epitomizes the values of Leadership, Achievement, and Mentorship and Community Engagement. Her foresight and employee-centered leadership style have been instrumental in driving transformative technology solutions and fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation at Bookminders. From enhancing operational efficiency to fostering technological advancement, Jennifer’s impact resonates across various departments, positioning her as a driving force behind Bookminders’ remarkable progress in today’s competitive landscape.

Bookminders Director of Technology & Communications Jennifer Whitmore honored as finalist for Women in Technology Leadership Awards
Left to Right: Bookminders CEO Jessica Minkus, Director of Technology & Communications Jennifer Whitmore, Office Manager Jenna Kelly

“Jennifer’s dedication to innovation and strategic thinking has been instrumental in shaping Bookminders’ journey,” says CEO Jessica Minkus. “Her leadership has empowered our team to embrace change and push the boundaries of what’s possible.”

Passionate about community involvement and mentorship, Jennifer has made a significant impact both within Bookminders and beyond. “Jennifer’s commitment to mentoring and empowering women is truly inspiring,” adds Office Manager and mentee, Jenna Kelly. “She leads by example, showing us the importance of giving back and uplifting others.”

Having dedicated more than 15 years to mentoring, Jen holds a special passion for organizations uplifting women in STEM. In addition to her coaching women in technology and communications at Bookminders, Jen serves as a STEM mentor for Woman to Woman Mentoring. She extends her leadership to the community through volunteerism with organizations such as San Mar Family and Community Services TGBT as a Mechanics Team member, PMI Baltimore as Director of Social Media, and the Frederick City Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee as a community representative.

Woman to Woman Mentoring Program Manager Eileen Foley-Breck, Bookminders Director of Technology & Communications Jennifer Whitmore
Left to Right: Woman to Woman Mentoring Program Manager Eileen Foley-Breck, Bookminders Director of Technology & Communications Jennifer Whitmore

Co-nominator, Dr. April Boulton, Hood College Graduate School Dean says, “Jen Whitmore is a leader of the highest caliber. Her management skills build bridges across diverse groups to get the job done. I cannot think of a more worthy candidate for this leadership recognition.”

Eileen Foley-Breck, Program Coordinator for Woman to Woman Mentoring, emphasizes the critical role of mentorship in fostering gender diversity in STEM fields: “We need to do better in supporting and encouraging our young women who want to pursue a STEM degree of study. Jennifer is someone who puts in the hard work of mentorship and who is helping the next generation of women in technology. Woman to Woman Mentoring is so proud of Jennifer and congratulates her on her finalist placement!”

At the gala, notable Bookminders representatives joined Jennifer, including Founder Tom Joseph, CEO Jessica Minkus, Office Manager Jenna Kelly, as well as Woman to Woman Mentoring’s Eileen Foley-Breck. Their collective presence not only highlighted the support Jennifer has garnered but also underscored Bookminders’ dedication to fostering diversity and inclusivity in the technology industry.

Jennifer and the Bookminders’ team relay their sincere congratulations to all the winners and a special thank you to WIT’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Toni Townes-Whitley, CEO of SAIC, for her inspirational career and words of wisdom.

Jessica Minkus, Jennifer Whitmore, Jenna Kelly, and Tom Joseph represent Bookminders at WIT Leadership Awards
Left to Right: Jessica Minkus, Mark Whitmore, Jennifer Whitmore, Jenna Kelly, Tom Joseph

Revolutionizing Work Culture: Insights from Bookminders’ CEO Jessica Minkus

Bookminders CEO Jessica Minkus featured on the Better People Podcast

In a recent episode of the “Better People Podcast,” Host Margaret Uhrich sat down with Bookminders’ CEO, Jessica Minkus, to delve into the company’s unique work culture and insights on building a successful remote-first environment.

Bookminders’ Pioneering Approach to Remote Work

The discussion kicked off with a glimpse into Bookminders’ history, highlighting its unique approach developed by Founder Tom Joseph. Bookminders provides a comprehensive outsourced accounting solution to nonprofits and small to medium-sized businesses, prioritizing employee flexibility in a home-based, remote-first setup. Joseph’s approach revolutionized the accounting employment model, attracting highly qualified candidates seeking part-time professional roles. Leveraging the company’s unique resources and cloud-based platform, Bookminders offers true professional opportunities for accountants requiring flexible schedules. With a physical presence in multiple locations throughout the United States, and a vision for accelerated organic growth, Bookminders stands as a leader in remote-first accounting opportunities.

Three Key Elements of Bookminders’ Culture

Margaret cited Jessica’s passion for creating a positive culture and asked Minkus to describe a few of the key elements involved in the process: an employee-centric approach, comprehensive and evolving standards and procedures, and employee support resources like the recently launched Team Adviser mentorship program.

Three key elements of Bookminders' culture are an employee-centric approach, comprehensive procedures that set clear expectations, and mentorship.

Jessica defines the heart of Bookminders’ culture, an employee-centric approach where business decisions are primarily based on the impact on employees. The company places a high priority on obtaining feedback and implementing employee-offered solutions, resulting in a workforce that feels heard, valued, and dedicated. Jessica notes that, “90% of our employees say that they’re going to stay with us for over three years or longer….100% of them are saying that…our expectations are realistic. We’re providing them the tools to do their job and…communication is effective.” For staff, working at Bookminders is “…a lifestyle….[people like ] having the flexibility, they like the supported autonomy…our employees love doing their job. They could not imagine going back to a nine-to-five desk job.”

Uhrich and Minkus then discuss Bookminders’ focus on consistency and well-defined procedures. While not as glamorous, they are critical, especially for remote workers. Jessica relays that Bookminders has documented procedures for 95% of employees’ work tasks, providing clarity on expectations and ensuring reliability and consistency in service delivery.

Margaret then prompts Jessica to describe an example of the third key item: Bookminders’ Team Advisors program. Recognizing the need for additional employee support to fuel internal and external growth, Minkus and her team introduced the mentorship program in the fall of 2023 to facilitate professional growth and development. Minkus explains how Advisers, selected based on institutional knowledge, expertise, and accounting specialty, are matched with advisees considering personality fits and communication style. Mentoring teams meet monthly, and advisees have the flexibility to reach out to their Adviser at any time throughout the workweek.

Jessica elaborates on why Advisers were quick to accept their roles, highlighting the opportunity for staff to grow into management positions without the administrative workload or full-time requirement. She describes how the program’s monthly meetings between Advisers and senior leadership foster open communication and collaboration, enhancing the efficiency of Bookminders’ already robust business model.

Bookminders' Team Advisors benefit from open communication and collaboration.

Minkus emphasizes how information quickly cascades down throughout the company, stating, “…everyone is accelerating their learning…they’re learning from others instead of learning solely from their own experiences.”

Minkus and Uhrich discuss how, given Bookminders’ commitment to promoting from within, programs like this are crucial for growth and succession planning. Jessica describes the overwhelming enthusiasm with which the program was met, as every staff member offered the opportunity to become an Adviser accepted it. “All of a sudden, everyone was just thrilled about the opportunity to…be a mentor to somebody else.” Minkus shares the incredible feedback from a long-tenured employee who stated the program is THE best thing that [Bookminders has] done…for the organization and supporting the employees.”

A Future of Continued Growth

Looking ahead, Minkus is enthusiastic about expanding Bookminders’ impact across the United States. With its supportive, noncompetitive environment and focus on flexibility and excellence, the company is well-positioned for rapid expansion while maintaining its exceptional work culture. Minkus emphasizes that growth at Bookminders is not about outdoing anyone else, but rather about individuals putting forth their best efforts, while supporting their teammates and choosing a career path that suits them best.

At Bookminders, all doors are open for employees to advance.

“Everyone has their own lane, and we’ve truly individualized the experience at Bookminders…they can choose how much they want to work. They can choose if they want to add a client to their portfolio or if they need to remove one. They have options, they have choices.” “They have the ability to get involved in other departments, to try different things…all the doors are open for everyone, and it’s up to them if they want to walk through them.”

Minkus’ leadership philosophy underscores the importance of agility and adaptability in a dynamic business environment. As Bookminders continues to grow, its employee-centric focus, comprehensive procedures, and innovative support programs ensure that its remarkable culture will scale with it.

The Better People Podcast is sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Employers Association, more commonly referred to as MEA. MEA provides Human Resources services to hundreds of businesses across numerous industries every day, bridging gaps that restrain innovation and growth.
MEA: Better People, Better Outcomes.

Join us for #TeamAdvisorTuesday

Bookminders celebrates Team Advisor Tuesday

Embark on an engaging journey in our upcoming social media series, #TeamAdvisorTuesday. In this series, we’ll shine a spotlight on some of the remarkable individuals shaping the dynamic culture at Bookminders – our Team Advisors!

Each Tuesday beginning January 16th, we’ll invite you to delve into the inspiring stories and experiences of these dedicated professionals who significantly contribute to our collaborative work environment. As we present these seasoned Accountants and committed Team Advisors, our series will unveil diverse narratives, achievements, and goals that define each individual’s career at Bookminders.

Follow us on this eleven-week journey to discover how these team members have successfully crafted the perfect blend of work, growth, and balance in their lives. As you get to know our amazing Advisors, be inspired by the compelling narratives of these individuals whose contributions are emblematic of the collaborative spirit and employee-centric culture that makes Bookminders a workplace like no other. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn, connect, and grow with us!

#MeetTheTeam #WorkLifeBalance #CareerGrowth #FlexibleWork #SupportedAutonomy

Smart by Design: Bookminders Honored as a 2023 Smart 50 Awardee

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 30, 2023:

Bookminders was honored as a distinguished 2023 Smart 50 Awards awardee, standing alongside other notable winners at a special luncheon celebration on November 29, 2023.

Bookminders honored as a innovative, sustainable, impactful company in 2023 Smart50 Awards.

Smart Business’ Smart 50 Awards spotlight exceptional organizations in the Greater Pittsburgh area, acknowledging these entities for their commitment to innovation, sustainability in business continuity, and achieving a significant impact across the region. Among the esteemed honorees, Bookminders has earned recognition for its remarkable achievements in these pivotal areas.

Several members of the Bookminders leadership team and staff attended the luncheon, sharing their thoughts on earning this recognition. Chief Executive Officer Jessica Minkus identifies the high level of management teamwork and their commitment to expanding Bookminders’ supportive, employee-centric culture as crucial success factors. “The team’s seamless collaboration plays a pivotal role in providing our employees with the necessary clarity and resources to succeed while enjoying optimal work-life integration. We have offered hybrid and remote options since the early ’90s, well before remote-first became a mainstream concept. We continue to prioritize that culture, maintaining a flat organization with direct access to management. Our values and the critical, proprietary resources we’ve developed position our staff for success in a personalized, flexible work environment.”

Bookminders CEO Jessica Minkus poses with the Smart 50 Award

Praising the management team’s remarkable cohesiveness, Director of Technology & Communications, Jennifer Whitmore, identifies it as a distinctive strength that allows Bookminders to make swift decisions and rapidly implement changes. She enthuses, “Our unified approach significantly expedites the change management process, ensuring that adaptations and innovations are seamlessly integrated into operations. This quick and efficient decision-making capability allows us to remain agile and responsive in a dynamic business environment.”

Smart 50 luncheon dessert and champagne

Mary Susan Anderson, Director of Operations, highlights that Bookminders’ agile, employee-centric model has led to a sustainable organization with exceptional retention rates. “Consistently seeking feedback from our employees on ways to enhance flexibility and work-life balance, we also prioritize training and development, reinforcing their high value to us and enabling us to expand our services to accommodate even the most complex clients,” she proudly states.

This ability to support the most challenging clients has been especially impactful for the Pittsburgh nonprofit community. Business Development Manager Melanie Rutan explains, “Our nonprofits face stringent reporting requirements that demand a higher level of accounting understanding than is generally affordable in-house,” she says.

“Bookminders becomes a crucial part of our clients’ teams and a direct contributor to their success. Our clients’ CPAs are grateful for the complete, reconciled books that make life easier for everyone. It’s truly a winning partnership all around!”

Several Bookminders management and staff attended the Smart 50 luncheon awards.
Pictured Left to Right: Senior Accountant, Maura Rodgers; Director of Operations, Mary Susan Anderson; Office Manager, Jenna Kelly; Director of Technology & Communications, Jennifer Whitmore; Chief Executive Officer, Jessica Minkus; Pittsburgh Business Development Manager, Melanie Rutan; Operations Support Coordinator, Katie Trevino; Director of Business Development, Pam Falkner-Hartigan.

Jessica Minkus, Bookminders CEO, Honored at the 2023 Pittsburgh Business Times C-Suite Awards

Jessica Minkus, Bookminders CEO, 2023 Pittsburgh Business Times C-Suite Award Winner

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 9, 2023:

Jessica Minkus, CEO of Bookminders, was honored at the Pittsburgh Business Times C-Suite Awards gala on November 9th. This event celebrated the remarkable leadership of 25 executives who have made a meaningful impact on the Greater Pittsburgh region. Awardees were recognized for their pivotal role in navigating the evolving business landscape, demonstrating skills, agility, and unwavering dedication in seizing opportunities and managing risks during both prosperous and challenging times. Co-presented by Aon and Fox Rothschild, this year marks the second edition of these prestigious awards.

Jessica Minkus, Bookminders CEO honored with Pittsburgh C-Suite Award at Annual Gala

Minkus contributes much of her impressive executive achievements at Bookminders to a fantastic cultural fit and the employee-centric, supportive environment. “In a small company like Bookminders, the path to the C-suite isn’t specifically laid out,” she reflects, “I feel extremely fortunate to have found a company early on in my career in which I could make a tremendous impact and thrive.” Apart from the company culture, Jessica’s management ascent is marked by her love for learning, willingness to work hard, commitment to continual improvement, and focus on innovative solutions. “If I see someone struggling with a process, I don’t just want to fix it for them; I want to find a way to turn a struggle into an opportunity that makes our company better as whole.”

Jessica’s leadership style, as described by her colleagues, blends approachability, strength, vision, and kindness. She is recognized for her hands-on approach, working closely with team members, understanding their daily challenges, and ensuring they have the resources they need to succeed. Jenna Kelly, Bookminders’ Office Manager, commends Jessica’s accessibility, stating “her availability, mentorship, and support empower everyone and make them feel valued.” Jennifer Whitmore, Director of Technology and Communications at Bookminders says, ““Jessica’s approach ensures that leadership decisions are made with a long-term mindset. We look beyond short-term fixes and focus on the long-lasting impacts for both staff and clients.”

With flexibility and employee well-being long touted as top priorities at Bookminders, Jessica has rolled out multiple initiatives in the past year that augmented staff resources and mentoring opportunities throughout the organization. “We want Bookminders to be a destination workplace,” Jessica enthuses, “a place where staff find their perfect blend of work-life harmony and know we equally value their personal and professional development.”

Jessica Mink
Pictured Left to Right:
Joann Fabrizio: J Fab Consulting LLC – Founder & CEO,
Jennifer Whitmore: Bookminders -Director of Technology & Communications,
Jessica Minkus: Bookminders – Chief Executive Officer,
Pamela Falkner Hartigan: Bookminders – Director of Busihness Development,
Gina Kallick: Entrepreneurs Forever – Small Business Advisor

Bookminders Honored as a Top Workplace Two Years Running – Further Recognized as the Best in Efficient, Effective Work

Bookminders is a Top Workplace and the #1 firm for efficient and effective processes.

September 10 2023: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

For the second year in a row, Bookminders has been designated a Top Workplace by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The organization ranked 2nd out of 61 businesses in the small company category. Bookminders was further honored with a special award recognizing effective and efficient processes, standing out among all 100 companies across all divisions.

Recognition for these awards is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by employee engagement technology partner Energage LLC. The anonymous survey uniquely measures 15 culture drivers that are critical to organizational success including alignment, execution, and engagement.

Once again, Bookminders’ performance resulted in the award of every culture badge available through this assessment. The company further ranked in the Top 5% for all Accounting/Bookkeeping companies, indicating employees have the highest regard for the company’s leaders, direction, work-life balance, and management support.

Bookminders Top Workplaces Culture Badges Top 5%

Bookminders staff ranked the organization in the Top 1% as follows for each of the following culture factors:

  • Clued-In Employees: employees are well-informed.
  • Company Direction: the company works efficiently and is moving in the right direction.
  • Confidence in Leadership: Employees have confidence in the company’s leadership.
  • Cross-Team Cooperation: the company maintains good interdepartmental cooperation and meeting efficiency.
  • Employee Appreciation: employees feel genuinely appreciated.
  • Innovation: the company encourages new and innovative ideas.
  • Leaders In-The-Know: the company’s leaders are well-informed.
  • Meaningful Work: employees feel like they are part of something meaningful.
  • Open Minded: the company promotes diverse points of view.
  • Strong Values: the company operates with strong values and encourages inclusivity.
  • Supportive Managers: Employees feel their manager cares about their concerns and offers professional development that helps staff learn, grow, and succeed.
  • Work-Life Balance: Employees are given the flexibility they need to balance their work and personal life.

“Earning a Top Workplaces award is a badge of honor for companies, especially because it comes authentically from their employees,” said Eric Rubino, Energage CEO. “That’s something to be proud of. In today’s market, leaders must ensure they’re allowing employees to have a voice and be heard. That’s paramount. Top Workplaces do this, and it pays dividends.”

“Flexibility and work-life balance are foundational to our culture,” states Bookminders CEO, Jessica Minkus. “With an optimal blend of supported autonomy and managerial support, our staff feel appreciated and treated as the professionals they are. They value working in an environment where work-life balance is the rule, not the exception!”

Check out the Post-Gazette’s interactive Top Workplace guide.

Bookminders management team and staff attend the PPG's Top Workplaces Awards.
Pictured Left to Right: Pittsburgh Business Development Manager, Melanie Rutan; Director of Training & Development, Maria Holtz; Client Relations Manager, Anne Marie Wiegmann; Director of Operations Mary Susan Anderson; Bookminders Founder, Thomas Joseph; Chief Executive Officer, Jessica Minkus; Senior Accountant Jeanine Finn; Office Manager, Jenna Kelly; Director of Technology & Communications, Jennifer Whitmore; Senior Accountant & Project Manager, Jennifer Krebs.

Delivering on the Remote Work Promise

Bookminders has been offering a remote-first environment for our accountants since 1991, decades before COVID-19 forced a meteoric rise in remote work adoption throughout the world. In fact, while only 6% of employees worked from home prior to the pandemic, over 33% were working remotely by May 2020.1

Unfortunately for those who value working from home, many businesses have abandoned their remote work culture as quickly as they embraced it.

Data released by LinkedIn reveals that the “the peak for remote jobs was in March 2022, with over 20% of all listings offering the option,” yet by “November 2022, barely 14% of paid job postings invited remote applicants.”2 In March 2023, the Wall Street Journal published an article citing the U.S. Labor Department’s report that “72.5% of business establishments said their employees teleworked rarely or not at all last year,” up from 60.1% the year before.3

While the reasons cited by firms for abandoning or scaling back on remote offerings range from claims around productivity to sunk costs for physical office space, the fact is that for many, remote work is simply not a key part of the corporate culture. Management will invest in the type of culture they believe best serves the firm and its clients, and rightly so.

Getting hybrid and remote work right isn’t always easy, and when leadership believes an in-person, physical presence is best for the business, they are more likely to abandon efforts to get remote work right. Instead, remote work requests are reluctantly permitted as an occasional exception to a colocation-based culture.

If firms act with transparency, their attitude towards remote work is clearly and intentionally communicated to prospective applicants. Sadly, in the race for talent, not all businesses embrace transparency, and new employees see the promised hybrid or remote position quickly modified to a primarily in-person role.

Despite the negative headlines and lack of transparency, remote work opportunities DO still exist and the demand for them has not abated.

A Pew Research Center Survey reports that 35% “of workers with jobs that can be done remotely say they are working from home all of the time,”4 and a recent Washington Post-Ipsos poll revealed only 6% of remote-capable workers would prefer to rarely or never work virtually.5

Even in the Accounting industry, a field that has typically delivered services in-person, workers are demanding remote work opportunities and wise firms are delivering them. 50% “of the top-performing CPA firms have staff working remotely”6 and while only 29% of financial services firms permitted staff to work remotely one or more day per week pre-pandemic, now 60% do so.7

So, how can accountants who value remote work avoid the bait-and-switch of a promised hybrid or virtual role to one that quickly morphs into an on-site position? Look at the company culture! Applicants should evaluate the attitude around remote work conveyed via a firm’s website, in their social media postings, and from employee reviews on job sites.

Prospects can ask interviewers and current/former employees when remote work was adopted at the company, what kind of work or meetings require on-site work, and what tools are being used to support employees who work virtually. A company that has prioritized remote work within its culture will have readily available answers to these questions and will be excited to share how they position their employees and clients for success despite the challenges of telecommuting.

Bookminders has done just that since 1991, with a work-from-home environment that attracts and retains the best talent while simultaneously providing excellent client service. We’ve continually optimized our suite of resources and processes that allow our accountants to deliver exceptional service, no matter where and when they choose to work. Over the years, Bookminders’ service offerings have expanded from fully hybrid to also encompass 100% remote employees and clients.

While face-to-face meetings are still preferred by some clients and our market-based accountants do meet with them onsite, many others have moved to Weekly e-Service. With e-Service, clients embracing a fully virtual experience benefit from efficiency gains while still enjoying weekly virtual meetings, which are led by either a hybrid or fully remote staff member.

No matter what level of remote work a staff member has individually chosen, all enjoy a transparent, flexible, employee-centric culture. At Bookminders, work-life balance (and remote work) are will continue to be the rule, not the exception.

Sources:

  1. Coate, P. (2021, January 25). Remote work before, during, and after the pandemic quarterly economics briefing–Q4 2020. Remote Work Before, During, and After the Pandemic. https://www.ncci.com/SecureDocuments/QEB/QEB_Q4_2020_RemoteWork.html
  2. Moore, M. (2023, January 7). Remote work may be past its prime. LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/news/story/remote-work-may-be-past-its-prime-6117210/
  3. Guilford, G. (2023, March 25). Work-from-home era ends for millions of Americans. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/work-from-home-era-ends-for-millions-of-americans-8bb75367
  4. McGregor, J. (2023, March 30). Full-time remote work is falling-but still five times pre-pandemic levels, survey finds. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenamcgregor/2023/03/30/full-time-remote-work-is-falling-but-still-five-times-pre-pandemic-levels-survey-finds/?sh=35086b512946
  5. Telford, T., Clement, S., & Guskin, E. (2023, May 24). Here’s what workers really care about, according to a post-ipsos poll. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2023/05/23/post-poll-remote-work-hybrid-future/
  6. Meyer, C. (2022, April 1). How accounting firms deal with Hybrid Working. Journal of Accountancy. https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2022/apr/accounting-firms-hybrid-working.html
  7. PricewaterhouseCoopers. (2020). Financial Services firms look to a future that balances remote and in-office work. PwC. https://www.pwc.com/us/en/industries/financial-services/library/balancing-remote-and-in-office-work.html

Coming Full Circle on Wellness: Employee-Centric

The Surgeon General's Framework for Mental Health and Well-Being is a great tool for supporting wellness.

Over the past several weeks we’ve examined the five elements of the Surgeon General’s Framework for Mental Health and Well-Being. The Framework was created to give organizations a starting place to create a culture that supports workers as whole individuals, prioritizing overall wellness.

Furthering employee wellness isn’t just the right thing to do for workers – it’s a sensible business strategy as well.

“In addition to the many impacts on the health and well-being of workers themselves, workplace well-being can affect productivity and organizational performance.”1 Companies making an investment in wellness can enjoy considerable positive outcomes for their efforts; these include higher productivity, lower turnover, improved reputation, and a general boost to the bottom line.

While creating a culture that prizes wellness is a smart choice, it’s not necessarily an easy one. In fact, “Ensuring workplace well-being requires an intentional, ongoing effort by employers and leaders across all levels, with the voices of workers and equity (i.e., a more equitable policy and practice environment) at the center.”1

Centering the framework around employee’s voices requires providing opportunities for feedback and maintaining an openness to improvement that isn’t tinged by the threat, real or perceived, of retaliation. This kind of culture is “an essential component of healthy organizations.”1

Employers must be willing to encourage and coach managers to be communicative and compassionate, practicing “human- and wellness-centered leadership by recognizing the connection between individual strengths, growth, and organizational change.”1

Many firms tout their workers as their most important resource. Putting action and investment to this claim, however, can be less common. Ensuring staff feel they Matter at Work, are Protected from Harm, enjoy Connection and Community with their workmates, are given Opportunities for Growth, and can maximize their Work-Life Harmony is demonstrative of a firm that cares about its employees. Creating this kind of culture shows staff that they are valued and truly recognized as a firm’s top asset.

Bookminders has shared these Framework elements, as identified in 2021 by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, as core components of our culture since our founding in 1991. Flexibility, balance, and opportunity aren’t initiatives we’ve rolled out over the years, they are the cornerstones of our existence. They’re certainly part of the reason 100% of our employees report they are appreciated and enjoy their jobs, are heard and responded to by managers, and find their work interesting and challenging.2

Despite our success, expanding our culture and strengthening our staff is of perpetual importance. Through examining tools like the Surgeon General’s Framework, maintaining an open dialogue for improvement, and adapting to the changing needs of workers, Bookminders will remain employee-focused and employee-centric. We encourage you to consider the same for your organization as you strive for wellness.

Sources:

  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2023). Workplace Mental Health & Well-being: Current Priorities of the U.S. Surgeon General. Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being – Current Priorities of the U.S. Surgeon General. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/priorities/workplace-well-being/index.html
  2. Bookminders Bi-Annual Employee Survey Results (2021)

Protection from Harm

Protection from harm depends on fulfilling the needs of safety and security

Ensuring Protection from Harm in the workplace depends on fulfilling the needs of safety and security. This final element of the Surgeon General’s Framework for Mental Health and Well-Being defines safety as protection “from physical harm, injury, illness, and death.”1 Security “builds on safety to include financial, and job security, given the negative effects that layoffs and job loss can have on the workers and their families.” 1

Successfully crafting a plan to provide safety and security relies on four primary strategies. These are: prioritizing workplace physical and psychological safety, enabling adequate rest, normalizing and supporting mental health, and ensuring policies further diversity and inclusion.

Prioritizing physical and psychological workplace safety is crucial in appreciating employees as whole individuals and in cultivating an environment where they can reach their full potential.1 Psychological safety is one’s ability to “speak up without the risk of being punished, retaliated against or humiliated, and without fear of these risks.” 1  In addition to developing their own safety policies and procedures, employers may leverage partnerships like the one Bookminders enjoys with Standing Firm, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting firms with policies and resources that can mitigate partner violence.

Enabling adequate rest and normalizing/supporting mental health are also important elements in providing for Protection from Harm. Research shows that fatigue reduces productivity and workers with sufficient rest time are less likely to experience injury and illness. 1 

Making space for adequate rest time can be difficult when schedules are strenuous or rigid. To combat this, employers should consider offering greater flexibility in scheduling and workload so employees can choose what works best for them. Bookminders employees have benefited greatly from this approach. In our last bi-annual survey, 100% of our employees reported that their manager’s expectations were realistic and 100% stated they were comfortable requesting changes to their workload.2

Normalizing mental health requires “validating challenges, communicating mental health and well-being as priorities, and offering both support and prevention services.” In addition to Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and insurance-related resources, employers should consider extending tools that contribute to daily wellness. As an example, Bookminders offers free premium Calm memberships to all employees and up to five of their family members. This sleep and relaxation app provides tools to enhance rest, stress management, mindfulness, and movement.

Implementing policies that extend diversity and inclusion are the final strategy in ensuring worker safety and security. “In inclusive workplace cultures all workers…feel safe to be authentic and express their feelings because they trust that their coworkers welcome and value their unique perspectives.”1 Bookminders employees identify communication, strong core values, and caring managers as corporate strengths and place our company in the top 1% of accounting/bookkeeping firms for inclusivity. This feedback suggests that work cultures rooted in strong values and guided by caring managers have an advantage in crafting policies that foster inclusion.

Learn how Bookminders Accountants like Jennifer and Wendy have leveraged our flexible work culture to create schedules that support balance and wellness in their lives. In next week’s final Wellness installment, we’ll discuss the importance of centering the Framework on Worker Voice and Equity and the potential impact strengthening employee wellness could have on your business.

Sources:

  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2023). Workplace Mental Health & Well-being: Current Priorities of the U.S. Surgeon General. Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being – Current Priorities of the U.S. Surgeon General. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/priorities/workplace-well-being/index.html
  2. Bookminders Bi-Annual Employee Survey Results (2021)
  3. Bookminders Culture Badges and Statistics Awarded by Energage Top Workplaces Survey. https://bookminders.com/top-workplaces-awards/ (2022)

Connection and Community

Bookminders fosters connection and community for employee wellness

Creating Connection and Community in the workplace improves social connectivity, allowing for the development of “supportive relationships” not limited to “close family and friends”.1 These connections improve one’s engagement in the workplace and, given the significant time spent working, can have a large impact on overall health and well-being.

The Surgeon General’s Framework for Mental Health and Well-Being indicates that delivering Connection and Community relies on fulfilling the needs of social support and belonging.

In this context, social support refers to the “relationships and networks that can offer physical and psychological help, such as emotional support, informational support, and advice.” Belonging is “the feeling of being an accepted member of a group, or of connectedness given one’s interpersonal relationships.” 1 There are several leading strategies available to fulfill the needs of social support and belonging.

Creating an inclusive culture where positive relationships render assistance and reassurance is a key approach. In these environments, all staff receive needed resources and are given opportunities to provide feedback without risk of negative perceptions or consequences. Bookminders’ staff benefit from this type of culture on a daily basis. In fact, 99% of employees indicate they are provided with the tools needed for success3 and, in a third-party administered survey, staff feedback placed Bookminders in the top 1% in Accounting/Bookkeeping for inclusivity.2

Imbuing trust in the workplace is another way to promote support and belonging, reduce stress, and improve employee performance.1 Through clear and consistent communication, individuals feel well-informed, connected, and regarded as a whole person by their employer rather than just a set of skills and abilities. Bookminders’ leadership team can speak to the success of this approach. Our staff report they “are kept well-informed about important decisions,” resulting in “confidence in the leadership,” and conviction that the company is “going in the right direction”. 2

Lastly, fostering collaboration and teamwork creates a sense of belonging and expands the impact of the work support system. Employers are encouraged to structure teams and collaborations with intention and purpose, fully resourcing staff with the right tools and processes to support success.

The rise of hybrid and remote work has created barriers to team and interdepartmental collaboration. Bookminders has demonstrated how these barriers can be overcome, ensuring a productive, remote-first collaborative environment since 1991. Our employee feedback places Bookminders in the top 1% for interdepartmental collaboration, innovation, and efficiency across all benchmarked Accounting/Bookkeeping firms.2

Uncover why Laura, Francoise, and Pam feel supported and remain connected to our Bookminders community, no matter where life has taken them! Next week, we’ll examine the final element of the Framework, Protection from Harm.

Sources:

  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2023). Workplace Mental Health & Well-being: Current Priorities of the U.S. Surgeon General. Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being – Current Priorities of the U.S. Surgeon General. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/priorities/workplace-well-being/index.html
  2. Bookminders Culture Badges and Statistics Awarded by Energage Top Workplaces Survey. https://bookminders.com/top-workplaces-awards/ (2022)
  3. Bookminders Bi-Annual Employee Survey Results (2021)