It’s clear when you walk into the Liberty Tax Service headquarters in Virginia Beach that the company and its employees know how to have a good time.
What else would you expect from a company whose franchises have a position just for dressing up as Lady Liberty and waving to cars?
In fact fun is part of the company’s mission statement to its employees to “set the standard, improve each day and have some fun!”
This atmosphere can be found in the dress code at Liberty Tax, which is always business casual. One can find employees in T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops on any day. A few people even dress up in the Lady Liberty costume to get some laughs. Others can be found practicing their mini golf putting skills next to cubicles for an upcoming team-building outing.
A putting match recently took place outside the office of Elizabeth Failmezger, director of human resources. She has been with the company for seven years and has enjoyed the last year in human resources.
“You get to meet everyone who comes in,” she said.
The number-one thing attracting people to the company right now, Failmezger said, is its expansion. A second building is under construction next to the company’s office on Corporate Landing Parkway in Virginia Beach.
“We have a lot of people calling us, reading articles about our growth,” Failmezger said.
The other attraction is the company culture.
“People love the lax dress code, the friendliness, the competition in fundraising and the team-building off site,” she said. “My favorite benefit is ‘monitor to results not activities.’”
The saying comes from the company’s culture of trusting employees to get their jobs done rather than monitoring the times they arrive and depart from the office every day. Employees can leave an hour early to pick up a child from school or come in late after dealing with a home repair, and it won’t count against their paid time-off. The goal is results.
Martha O’Gorman is the company’s chief marketing officer and one of the original founding employees who worked with CEO John Hewitt at Jackson Hewitt.
“I love coming to work every day,” O’Gorman said. “I am able to come to work and never have a bad moment, especially during tax season.”
As with most accounting and tax firms, the bulk of the company’s business is crammed between January and April. Stress runs high, but the company tries to offer opportunities for employees to burn off steam, from chili cook-offs to employee video competitions to breakfasts during tax season.
O’Gorman said she believes the company’s success is the result of its culture and close-knit relationships.
“Most everyone who works here has been referred by another employee,” she said. “And I really believe the key to our success is because we make it a fun atmosphere.”
The opportunity for growth is always present at Liberty. Many of the company’s corporate employees have worked in various departments over the years. And some actually leave the corporate office during tax season to operate their own Liberty Tax franchises.
Failmezger of the human resources department didn’t start out there. She came in as a paralegal.
Matt Woolsey, director of the tax department, came to the company thinking he would manage a call center but instead he was placed at the head of the tax department.
“It’s a very open place and there are a lot of challenges,” he said, before heading back to his office to play a little more mini golf.