Do we place enough value on human assets in the accountancy sector?

The cost of high staff turnover

 

We all know that client retention is cheaper than client acquisition but are we failing to place equivalent emphasis on retaining staff? Has the accountancy industry developed a culture of high staff turnover due to a perceived lack of internal promotion and development opportunities? Is moving jobs seen as the only way to be taking your career seriously and the quickest route to rise through the ranks? When practices offer higher salaries to external appointments, is this evidence that managers have also accepted this status quo?

Financial recruiters are increasingly busy as sector vacancies’ rise again in 2017 and employers compete for highly trained accountants. If employees are always seeking pastures new then employers are left fishing from a rocky recruitment pool. The good candidates with the right transferable skills get creamed off by the big firms and smaller practices can be left with a human resources lucky dip! Not ideal when practice service reputation is on the line.

Costs associated with high turnover can be substantial, they include:

  • Recruitment agency commission fees
  • Staff time lost during the recruitment & training process
  • Risk of unsettling existing staff through poor personality fit or low morale caused by inequitable salaries of new starters
  • Incidental costs, such as new equipment, health and safety training, insurance etc
  • Risks of damage to reputation from a poor appointment

So how can we change this industry culture of needing to move firms to move up and actively try to improve staff retention?

 

Tips to improve staff retention in your practice

 

Address work life balance

This is an extremely important issue for most employees as a perceived poor focus on work life can dramatically increase staff turnover. Can you introduce flexible working in your practice to try to counteract this, advances in cloud based accounting technology make remote working and flexible hours more feasible. Are you flexible when the unexpected happens and your staff need time off? Does your business provide childcare vouchers? Do you allow staff to work more flexible hours in the school holidays?

How is your own work-life balance, are you being a good role model or is there a culture of working long hours and not taking leave?

Improve your reputation: invest in your staff

Is your practice known in the industry for being a great employer because you invest in your staff? Do you encourage their training and development and offer good financial packages? Do you encourage in house promotion and career paths? Do you fund training and professional development opportunities?

Lack of career progression is highlighted as a leading cause of employee dissatisfaction in accountancy, so communication is key, be clear with your staff about your objectives for their progression. Do you provide a nice workplace environment? Do you promote health and wellbeing, do your staff have the equipment they need etc?

Rewards and recognition: value your workforce

Staff retention doesn’t have to be a complicated issue, try to look for opportunities to make your employees feel valued, financially or otherwise. It’s too obvious for words but often overlooked when you are busy managing your practice and concentrating on output. Focus more on recognition and encouragement, set transparent and agreed targets, have you made the job roles in your practice interesting and well suited to your employee’s skill sets, do you understand the personality fit of your team?

Financial packages are also important; if you can be more generous to your employees in terms of benefits and bonuses then the savings you make back through a loyal and motivated workforce can often offset this cost.

To find out more about how mTrio can add value to your practice

 

 

 

About the Author

Ashley has built and used databases extensively in his career and helped many accountants with streamlining their practice management solutions. With over eight years working in the industry he is well aware of the pressures facing it.