Hail the homecoming heroes!

Late on Saturday 30 January I heard a record request on the radio ‘for all the accountants working through the weekend to get in the last tax returns’. I had a wonderful image of tax practitioners all over the UK yelling out the lyrics of M People’s Search for the Hero while ploughing their way through the final computations.

It’s now time to unwind and let the anxiety abate. Here’s some ideas for getting everyone relaxed and revitalised.

Start with a staff fancy dress party where each outfit has to be fashioned out of spare or spoiled returns. The prize for the best idea could be a six-foot cut-out of Hector. Be generous with the food and drink. Your people haven’t eaten without stress for five months.

Collect all those ‘Eat for #5’ vouchers that restaurants are promoting to lift the miserable post-tax, post-Christmas slow trade, and treat your people to some great lunches during February. Make a day of it and rent a video. Avoid The Shawshank Redemption – it’s all about getting tax returns done – or Nick of Time (an accountant under time pressure). Try instead Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. It demonstrates that selfless devotion to others has its rewards.

Play the Merger Challenge. Put all the Group A names in a hat and run a sweepstake. Those holding the names of the next pair of firms to merge share the pot. Alternatively, post staff with cameras outside Group A offices and from the comings and goings they must try to identify which firms are in merger discussions. The first picture – the accountants’ equivalent of Charles and Camilla being seen together – could be worth a fortune.

Fill the office with aromatic candles, lead everyone into a deep trance and allow them to contemplate on what a great world it is, that despite access to knowledge on the Internet and despite tax return computer programs, so many people are incapable of filling in their own forms and are prepared to pay you. Oh joy!

Ann Baldwin, FCA, is a management trainer and speaker

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