How To Manage Accounting Firm Employees Well
According to INSIDE Public Accounting 2017 National Benchmarking Report, professional staff turnover is down in firms of all sizes, with a national average of 12.4%. That’s down from the previous year’s numbers, where the largest firms averaged 17.2%, and one in five experienced turnover rates above 20%. So, what’s different?
It seems as though accounting and bookkeeping firms are catching up with the times finally. Today’s employees don’t want to be managed at all. It’s not enough to just understand the job description of your staff. Accounting managers, financial controllers, and accounting supervisors are learning to work closely together to lead their groups. Managers are now finding ways to cultivate employees’ talents and abilities, motivating them through a positive and cohesive work environment.
Everyone knows it’s more expensive to hire someone new than to keep current employees. Turnover shouldn’t be the norm in your office. According to David Cristello & Joe Cassandra in their book, Double Your Accounting Firm, “As you grow, your process and team should be the constants. Making yourself a ‘career firm’ leads to faster implementation of these steps, better corporate culture, and more profits. Every time a manager gets recruited to another firm because of money, you know there’s something wrong.”
You don’t have to find your firm in that average 12%. And retaining those accountants and administrative staff doesn’t have to be a nightmare. There is no magic formula or workflow diagram. It just takes a little bit of creativity and flexibility.
Listen to Your Employees
Get a feel for what they want. D&V Philippines recommends that leaders empower their staff to fulfill the primary function of the accounting department: to make sure that your business’ financial condition is in top shape. In order to do that, you need to find out what makes them tick. No longer is your staff happy to trudge into the cubicle, and become a nameless cog as a part of a large firm’s well-oiled machine. They want to be heard.
Get your team’s input and buy-in when making a decision that will affect everyone. Encourage your team to be involved. Having a voice and feeling like that voice matters leads to better staff satisfaction.
Give Them a Purpose
When you ask your employees what keeps them coming back to work every day, if you’ve built the right culture they’ll answer with things like sense of purpose, vision, or passion. They want to know that they’re part of the culture, not just a mindless piece of the machine. When they ask you questions about your business strategy or how their job relates to the overall purpose of the organization, it’s not with the intent of questioning your authority.
Much of today’s workforce is made up of Millennials. These people like to know what’s going on. They like to know where the business is headed, and what the plan is to get there. More importantly, they need to know where they fit into the equation. They genuinely want to know that their job actually has meaning and purpose. Give them the “why” behind the business, and how that fits into the greater society, as a whole.
Sometimes getting through a routine workday can feel like a chore. When an employee puts out an idea that’s rejected, it can be really discouraging. When it happens often enough, it may encourage them to stop caring, or their eyes to wander over to another competitor firm’s fold in search of greener pastures. On the other hand, when an employee feels like they are underwater with an overstock of work piled up around them and constant demand of their attention from phone calls, meetings, and emails, they may be tempted to jump ship.
People need to be encouraged and recognized, even if that is just for small wins. This doesn’t mean that you have to sound the trumpets and toss confetti when a key employee finishes a project. Recognize the small wins. A pat on the back for finishing a small project or getting through a difficult checklist. Having a sense of steady, forward movement toward an important goal can make a big difference in how a person’s day goes. Take note of small progressive triumphs and it will encourage further innovation and creativity.
It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a network of motivated professionals to keep a successful financial company afloat. Give your employees time to be creative on their own and see what they come up with. You’d be surprised how resourceful people become when given just a little room to breathe. According to Dan Pink, New York Times bestselling author of Drive, the key to motivating employees is a healthy balance of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Encourage them to become involved in creative projects that promote your firm.
This All Points to Engaged Employees
Engaged employees are excited and enthusiastic about their work, are strongly committed to the organization’s mission and vision, and willing to go above and beyond their assigned duties. When staff is engaged, studies show lower turnover and higher returns.