Focus Groups and Core Hours
As Marcum continues to grow its footprint through mergers and acquisitions, a key challenge is keeping the local flavor of a new office while ensuring national consistency in the Marcum brand.
To overcome this challenge, Marcum instituted regional focus groups four years ago comprised of a diverse group of associates who bring improvement ideas and opportunities to local management. Focus Group leaders from every region also meet on a quarterly basis to share challenges and best practices with each other. Ideas that can be replicated across regional boundaries become Marcum-wide initiatives, while local approaches to engaging associates are still carried out at the discretion of local leadership. An example of a national initiative that came from our focus groups and has been received very favorably by associates has been paid sabbaticals. With regional and national approval, any Marcum associate can take extended time off for any reason while still being paid 25% of their salary without losing health benefits or their active status.
Associates have leveraged this initiative to assist aging parents, achieve industry certifications, finalize educational goals, or simply take a well-deserved lengthy vacation. Similarly, Marcum promotes flexibility through core hours and alternative work arrangements that allow associates to work a creative schedule outside of normal business hours. Core hours were put in place to allow associates to begin or end their day at their convenience, assuming client obligations are met. Specifically, as long as each associate is available for their client and team from the core hours of 10:30 – 3:30, they can begin and end their day at anytime. At Marcum, our value of balance is defined as “making a good life, not just a good living.” Now, every associate can define that good life on their own timing.
A key goal for Marcum’s human capital team is to help us all continually engage associates at every level of our business. Enabling our associates to think and act like owners requires a culture of caring, and that starts with the way the Firm cares for our people. We have a number of programs designed to engage our associates in making business decisions, including associate focus groups in all Marcum regions chartered to bring forward improvement suggestions around process, people, and profit. There are numerous examples of where the Firm altered a practice or policy, or instituted a change in direct response to the recommendation of a focus group, including paid sabbatical leave, alternative work arrangements, and parental as well as maternity leave, to name just a few. One prime example of flexibility geared to help our associates basically set their own schedules is core hours. Associates can start or end their day on their schedule, as long as they are available from 10:30 – 3:30 and fulfill their hours requirements. All we’re doing is making official what was for the most part happening anyway.