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How Accounting Firms Can Increase Employee Retention

How Accounting Firms Can Increase Employee Retention
Ryan McInnis
accountant employee retention

In the wake of COVID and the Great Resignation, employee retention has become an even bigger issue than usual for many firms. In a recent survey, 41% of respondents admitted they plan to leave their current job or look for a new one during the second half of 2022. This means now is the time to take a look at your firm and make sure your employee retention practices are up to snuff in the current market.

In the wake of COVID and the Great Resignation, employee retention has become an even bigger issue than usual for many firms. In a recent survey, 41% of respondents admitted they plan to leave their current job or look for a new one during the second half of 2022. This means now is the time to take a look at your firm and make sure your employee retention practices are up to snuff in the current market.

Why are Workers Leaving?

Although not the main driving factor in the public accounting sector, salary concerns are always a possible reason for workers to leave, as are less than stellar benefits packages. At a CPA firm, however, the need for a better work-life balance is a more common concern, especially during and immediately after a particularly intense tax season.

Smaller firms may see employees leave when they feel there is no room for advancement or when there is concern about the financial future or stability of the company. Employees who feel unappreciated, unrecognized, or unsupported are likely to leave, as are those who are dissatisfied with the company culture.

Employee Retention Strategies to Implement

Competitive Salaries

If you want to attract and keep top talent, you need to figure out what a competitive salary really means in your area. A competitive salary in Kansas may not work in New Jersey, so pay attention to both the accounting industry and your location. If you want to stay competitive, make sure your employees’ wages rise as inflation does. Money alone isn’t enough to motivate most people, but a lack of it will remove motivation in a hurry.

It’s also important to share the wealth. If the firm is doing exceptionally well, the employees should benefit along with the business owners. Handing out nonstop raises is clearly not feasible, but consider giving out bonuses or making a nice deposit into your employees’ 401K accounts when things go well.

Invest in Well-Being and Employee Perks

When giving everyone a raise is cost prohibitive, you can also decrease employee turnover by investing in perks instead. Discounted gym memberships, help with child care, and access to mental health and wellness services can go a long way towards keeping employees happy and engaged. Offering help with education costs and programs can also increase employee engagement and lets people know you value them enough to invest in them and their future.

Company retreats and dinners can also be great perks but use them wisely. A spa day or a deep sea fishing expedition can be a lot of fun, but don’t try and disguise team-building exercises or seminars as employee perks. The same goes for appreciation dinners. A meal at a nice restaurant or a catered picnic at a baseball game will likely be well received. Pizza parties and dress-down days, however, will only get you so far.

Flexibility in Remote Work

For better or worse, COVID has changed the way we work. After proving that they can do their jobs from home and do them well during the pandemic, many employees are loathe to return to the office. You need to honestly assess whether you truly need your employees in the office 40 hours a week or whether you just prefer to have them there.

Some people like the camaraderie of working in an office and seeing their coworkers every day, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. Others detest the commute, the interruptions inherent in shared workspaces, and the potential to interact with people who come to work sick. If someone wants to work remotely and they can do so, try and work out an acceptable remote schedule with them, requiring them to come into the office only as much as necessary. Otherwise you might lose them to someone who is willing to accept remote work.

Use Automation to Create More Purposeful Work

Accounting firms and other businesses can help keep employees by making sure they don’t get bored. Although they’re admittedly not exciting, sometimes menial tasks need to get done. If you can automate them, however, you can make sure they’re done while freeing up your staff to do more meaningful work.

Invoicing, collection efforts, and basic bookkeeping tasks can all be automated with the right software. So can super simple tasks like addressing envelopes using a font that makes them look handwritten. A personal touch is sometimes best, but don’t make a habit of leaving ambitious and motivated staff members feeling bored and uninterested in their duties.

Other Strategies

Other employee retention strategies include cultivating a positive company culture, offering mentorship programs, and offering employees opportunities for advancement. Promote from within whenever possible and celebrate milestones with employees. Employment anniversaries, impressive achievements, and extra effort should all be acknowledged and celebrated.

Equally important is creating open-door policies where employees can discuss concerns, suggestions, and ideas in a safe and respectful environment. Make sure you communicate with employees and remember to include those who work remotely in the conversation. Be honest about achievements as well as issues the company is facing. Employees know when something isn’t quite right and become resentful when they feel like they’re being kept in the dark.

Outsource Tax Prep During Busy Season

Work-life balance has become a buzzword that businesses often like to talk about, but very few actually do well. Don’t make this mistake. It is a bit cliche, but your staff really does work to live — none of them live to work. This truth doesn’t change during your busy tax season or when you’re short-staffed.

A great way to help your employees maintain a better work-life balance is outsourcing. Tax time is crazy at a busy CPA firm, so manage the chaos for your employees by managing their workload. Hiring a tax prep outsourcing firm can be a great way to help manage your internal employee workload. Through an outsourced tax prep firm, you’ll get access to a network of expert CPAs who will be at your disposal to take on your most unglamourous tax prep work. Your employees will be ecstatic to only have to focus on the highest value-add and most interesting client work your firm handles.

Even if you only need the outsourced tax prep firm during busy season, it can really help take the load off of your existing staff. It only takes one busy tax season to make some employees feel like they’re living at work and need a change. You can promote work-life balance by getting help so employees see that you really do care and aren’t just paying lip service to work-life balance.

Conclusion

Sometimes, employees simply need a change, and that’s okay. You won’t be able to keep every employee you want to, and that’s just a reality of doing business. But there are things you can do to make your firm an attractive place to work and try and keep employee engagement and retention as high as possible.

One option is getting some help so your staff doesn’t have to sacrifice their work-life balance. When you’re ready to make the tax prep outsourcing leap, reach out to the professionals at Picnic Tax. With us, you’ll get access to a network of licensed and highly qualified CPAs who can help reduce the workload on your internal staff. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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