Best Accounting Firms to Work For: Schellman Benefits Redefine Success
“Is this company successful?”
In answering such a question, the most common and immediate instinct for anyone is to reference the financials—growth, profitability, and revenue are all easy touch points to map any organization’s achievements. Ordinary individuals are often judged the same way with their net worth, as money remains the most obvious societal measure of accomplishment.
Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is that success is actually multi-faceted and a subjective concept—just as all people are different, so too can organizational success be measured on many different levels, and the internal personnel themselves may each have very different definitions of the term when considering their employer.
Of course, when any company first starts up, the primary goal is to make money and to be profitable. In most cases, these organizations just getting off the ground don’t have the bandwidth or the inclination to devote much time or resources to areas of the company that will not facilitate immediate financial growth.
But that’s in “most cases”—not all. Because interestingly enough, Schellman did not choose such a common route, even right from its founding in 2002.
As someone who has been here since that beginning, I can attest that in the years since, Schellman has in fact seen very impressive financial growth, but I believe the ultimate or overall “success” of the company has been achieved thanks to the unique way Schellman has always prioritized its employees.
What Does Schellman Consider Success? Responding to Our Team's Needs
Comparatively with the Big 4 of our industry, Schellman’s initial benefits package was on par or better than our well-established competitors. During our small beginnings, team members were enticed with what could be considered “typical” offerings:
- 401k match at 6%
- Per diems to cover travel, etc.
But where Schellman truly separated itself from other firms is in how we first responded and how we continue to respond to the various and unique needs of our people as they cropped up.
The very first instance I can remember took place years ago, when an employee was diagnosed with a life-threatening and severe condition that meant they would be unable to perform their responsibilities for a period of time. Our small size at the point meant that word traveled fast, and the situation quickly became the primary focus of our leader and CEO at the time, Chris Schellman, who decided to ensure that this team member, as well as all other present and future employees, would be covered as much as possible in the event that life threw anyone a curveball.
Just months after this devastating news surfaced, the firm announced that all employees would be provided with short-term disability insurance, and long-term disability coverage would follow shortly thereafter for similar reasons. Both fulfilled Chris’s goal to—please forgive the ongoing baseball pun—cover all bases in support of his employees.
Understanding That Everyone's Needs Evolve
The same pattern has continued over the years—every time a new need was identified, no matter what it was, it was evaluated at a firm level and, most of the time, it was adopted into the Schellman benefits package in some way. Other example additions over those first few years include:
- Life insurance
- Health and dental insurance paid for entirely by the firm (no paycheck deductions aside from any dependents)
- Vision insurance
- Medical coverage for global business travel
To date, all have served as plenty protection against life’s hurdles, just as Chris wished. Even in unprecedented times like these, as COVID-19 has reformed ideas of normal, Schellman’s consistency in protecting their people never wavered.
In March 2020, the headquarters office shut down just as the virus was breaking out in America, and like many other companies, our team members were sent home to keep working. But Schellman leadership also initiated a program to provide a healthy stipend to all employees for use in filling out everyone’s newly necessary home offices. Despite dealing with the same uncertain financial future businesses everywhere were facing, the firm still worked hard to make sure its people were as comfortable as possible as we all dealt with the chaotic adjustments brought on by the global pandemic.
But then, adaptability is a proven strength of Schellman’s, and the firm continues to do what it can to separate itself when it comes to employee experience and comfort. Of course, as the firm’s industry footprint has grown, attracting top talent to perform our services has also required steady evolution to the offerings here, and presently, the benefits package goes well above and beyond the typical market. But it’s more than just getting people to sign an employment contract.
Just as Chris did in the beginning, the current leadership team still recognize that the firm’s upward trajectory continues because of the work done by all the cogs in the machine—as such, they’ve has taken a vested interest in keeping everyone motivated and satisfied, in and out of work.
Schellman's Benefits Package in 2022
Obviously, that’s much easier to do so now, years after the company’s inaugural years, but Schellman has kept proactively raising the bar on itself as we’ve been more able—in addition to everything else, we now will have:
- Quarterly discretionary bonuses for all
- 401k match that has gone from 6% to 10%
- An annual company retreat to a fun destination with all travel expenses paid by the firm, including another 8 hours off on the Monday following the conclusion of the event (2020 and 2021 being exceptions due to COVID-19)
- LASIK surgery coverage for team members with certain tenure
- COVID Emergency Sick Leave
- A monthly technology reimbursement of $150 to be used at individual discretion
- A starting PTO balance of five weeks, which includes a company-wide, two-week break at Christmas and New Year’s as the entire company shuts down operations
- Jump Start Your Holiday program – offices close at noon the day before Memorial Day, Labor Day, July 4th, and Thanksgiving
Prioritizing A Rewarding Work Environment for All
When I speak to colleagues both in and out of our industry, everyone’s surprise when they hear what Schellman offers its employees at a baseline always reminds me just how much the firm has redefined success for itself—in a society and world with more and more focus placed on profits and power, Schellman judges itself first on how well they’re able to take care of their own, both as employees and as people with individual personal lives.
At work, the firm works hard to help everyone feel like a valued asset, not just a number, encouraging both feedback and recognition for everyone. (Schellman team members are allotted two annual bonuses worth $250 that they can gift to a peer in appreciation of someone’s particularly excellent performance.)
For my part, it is incredibly refreshing to be a part of an organization that puts its employees and the quality of the services it provides above everything.
Of course, it’s not perfect, and it all remains a work in progress. A job at Schellman still requires time and effort, after all, and leadership’s listening and learning is an ongoing, active process that can only do its best to please all the different kinds of people we employ.
But as someone with several stops on their resumé, when I compare them all with everything laid on the table, it’s very clear that Schellman was intent on being different from the beginning and has maintained that unique course throughout almost 20 years in operation.
Like any startup, financial success was the idea, but here, the culture enables team members to be their very best while also rewarding them for their labor with plenty of reasons on-and-off the job to maintain their dedication. As we continue on, the future of Schellman is limitless—I am honored to have been part of the incredible people that have made up this company for so long, and I’m looking forward to what comes next.
Looking for a Change?
Schellman is growing fast, and we are always looking to bring on enthusiastic new members that can push the firm to new heights. If what we are continuing to build here sounds interesting to you, make sure you check out our current career opportunities—we'd love to chat to you about joining our team.
About Michael McKeown
Michael McKeown is a Business Development Specialist with Schellman. Michael recently moved to the Business Development team after being the Director of Billing, Collections and Reporting for 18 years. Prior to joining Schellman in 2002, Michael worked as an Operations Analysist at Arthur Andersen.