High Rock Accounting: Vacation stipends

By Lea Hart

Liz Mason, CPA, shareholder at High Rock Accounting, says her firm boasts a "choose-your-own-adventure" mentality.
Liz Mason, CPA, shareholder at High Rock Accounting, says her firm boasts a "choose-your-own-adventure" mentality. (Photo by Josh Biggs/AP Images)

Would you like $1,000 to go on vacation this year? It's yours at High Rock Accounting, but there's a catch: To earn it, you must turn off work communications and commit to taking a break.

Liz Mason, CPA, shareholder at High Rock Accounting, once worked at a firm that offered unlimited paid time off. But she found that no one took vacation. It was difficult to disconnect from work, and those who wanted to remain competitive were afraid to step away.

She decided things at High Rock would be different. High Rock, a seven-employee firm based in Tempe, Ariz., offers designated paid time off, ranging from 15 to 25 days per year. Employees who take vacations can be reimbursed for up to $1,000 in flights, hotel rooms, and other travel costs.

The vacation stipend motivates employees to truly unplug, Mason said.

"We want them to remember what they are working for and enjoy life," she said. "It is about recharging and relaxing, and it's about taking care of the individuals we are lucky enough to have on our team."

The policy has also helped the firm come together as a team—when someone takes time off, others must understand how to fill in.

Pair that policy with the firm's flexible work environment—employees can work wherever they like, as long as they don't have a meeting scheduled—and the result is a happier, more motivated group of employees.

"I don't see people getting burnt out as easily," Mason said. "People are much more willing to work."

Recruiting is fun because prospective employees realize how much career flexibility they can have at High Rock, she said. "I like to say that we are a choose-your-own-adventure firm," she noted. "You come into the role you're hired for, and within three months we start to identify what you love and what you're good at." Employees can then focus on that sweet spot where the things they enjoy and the things they excel at coincide.


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