Rita Keller brings up being "cool" if a firm is going to remain competitive. I agree and expand the point to emphasize it's a two-parter!
The first step is attracting great people. The second and more important part (and much more difficult one) is inspiring them to want to STAY so your firm has the talent AND attitude to continue to do great things for clients.
Rita's post, "Do you speak their language" talks about texting. Specifically, texting used in an accounting firm's recruiting ad. And, sure, it's a clever ad. I don't know the firm, but I hope they have the second part down-pat, too.
Just this month, I've been privvy (with great disapproval) to several firms' conversations about their policies on ipods, text messaging, and so forth. Basically, they say "don't" because "it interferes with productivity."
Funny. How many of those staffers jammed to their favorite tunes through every homework assignment they've had while they earned their grades that qualified them to join the firm. (Take yourself back a few years...there was definitely a stereo, maybe even a favorite record or cassette, cranked up while I did MY studies. How about you?)
Maybe they're just trying to tune out the office chatter-box so they can get some work done! (Is there a no office chatter-box policy??)
And when I spoke in June at the AAM conference about blogs, a number of attendees said their firms' internet security won't let them access blogs from the office!
A number of firms also deny access to Linked In, Facebook, YouTube and other social networking sites in order to "control timewasting." Blogs and social media tools facilitate some of the most effective marketing and networking going on these days. And firms are blocking them!!
This lockout occurs among roughly 25% of businesses, so it's not just accounting firms who are short-sighted. See David Meerman Scott for that figure on his excellent (and sad) post called "Facebook and YouTube blocked by paranoid corporations at their own peril."
A commenter on David's post says people take advantage and waste hours on the internet to which David wisely responds:
... it is a management issue, not a technology issue. If people mess around at work, it doesn't really matter if it is on Facebook, or chatting by the water cooler, or taking a three hour "shopping lunch". It's all the same - people not doing what they've been paid to do.
I would deal with the behavior. If required, fire the employee who is not working.
At any rate, policies like these stink. Most contradict what firms are trying to claim they are: great places to work. These policies (attire, perfume, internet use, ipods...) are insulting because they treat every person on your team as the worst behaved child by making everyone "pay" for the sins of one or two who show poor judgment and ought to just receive a talking to, and maybe a boot, if the talk doesn't work.
I'm picking up Rita's post today because I want to reinforce, all the great "cool" recruiting in the world won't solve the talent crisis. The problem is people leaving once they came, they saw, and they experienced. A lot of firms DO have amazing and cool cultures. And those firms are not seeing the turnover like the ones who get uptight about ipods and blog-reading.
Treat all the people like grown-ups and if some don't choose to act like it, then deal with them individually! But stop punishing the masses or you won't have a mass...there are too many other places for them to go.
It's time to get with the program.