Accounting is a highly competitive industry with plenty of vacancies. Demand is only rising – research shows that 80,000 new accountants will be needed by 2050 in order to keep up with demand. This is a prime market for experienced accountants to find another job if they want to. So, how do you retain your accounting staff when there are plenty of tempting reasons to leave?
Retaining Staff is Good for Business
High turnover is incredibly costly to a business. Even hiring one person can be a financial burden. The average cost of finding a new employee in the UK is £3000 and that’s just the money spent on the search.
If you can retain your accounting staff you will maintain and in many instances, improve the quality of your firm’s output. Consistent audits are difficult to deliver if the work is being handed off repeatedly. A good accountant knows that a close relationship with a client is key to delivering good service. The same name appearing in emails, at the end of reports and as a voice on the phone is good customer service and allows for an individual client’s needs to be wholly met and understood.
Every additional step in a process invites room for error and this is only exacerbated by having to hand off half-finished work. New recruits are also more likely to make mistakes as they undergo their onboarding. In a field where mistakes can cost thousands of pounds in penalties, it’s important to have a reliable and loyal workforce.
Retaining staff starts very simply – people appreciate being appreciated. It’s important to show your staff that you recognise the work they are doing. Positive affirmation and recognition of a job well done are small steps that go a long way.
Compensating your employees above the average will encourage them to stay. You should be considering what you’re currently offering in terms of salary and ensuring it’s competitive. If you had the option to earn more for the same job, wouldn’t you take it?
A competitive salary goes beyond market competition. Where you’re based and your flexible working policy will make a difference. A person living and working in the capital city will have a different opinion on your offering than those living in more affordable areas.
You should also consider how pay scales inside your company and ensure that rates are tied to rational, understandable scales. Earning substantially less than a colleague with the same experience and output will leave staff feeling unappreciated.
There are smaller rewards you can offer than don’t require you to bump a person’s salary. Bonuses for achievements and taking staff out for drinks are examples of this. You might want to offer your team cost-of-living funds to help them through the current economic climate. However, before you give these smaller gifts, consider the context – after all, the last thing you want to do is patronise your staff.
Enable your staff to stay
The tools your team needs to do their jobs have undergone rapid change in the last five years. Making Tax Digital, the Pandemic and the rate of technological development are all examples of external factors that should be forcing your firm to adjust its approach.
More potential recruits are looking for companies that can keep up with the latest technological offerings. Staff development is vital to retention and an aspect we’ll cover later in this article but being able to give your staff experience with leading industry technology is increasingly important to workers. Newer equipment that facilitates an improvement in workflow could be just what your firm needs to boost engagement.
Are you offering any form of flexible working?
The pandemic has shifted our cultural perception of how we work, and the traditional 9-5 office is almost completely gone. Enabling your employees to work from home or have hours that suit their needs will encourage them to stay with you, even if they don’t stay in the office.
The best way to know what your staff need to feel satisfactorily compensated for their labour is to ask them. Everyone has different needs. Flexible hours may not be as attractive to a person with no dependents as it would be to a single parent. Your ability to listen and act on feedback will create a culture of trust and empathy, making your firm an attractive place to work.
Training for Retention
For most people, a rewarding job goes beyond money. Feeling stuck in a dead-end job inspires misery and almost nothing will have people looking elsewhere as fast. A business that encourages individual growth and progression will have loyal employees.
Mentorship is a great way to build lasting relationships and retain your accounting staff. Take the time to understand their goals and help them establish the path to reach them. Taking the time to lead in this way tells your staff that they’re valuable to you. Simply spending money won’t have the same effect. Be engaged with their goals and celebrate with them when they’re reached.
It’s helpful if you can also demonstrate that this path can progress them through the company. Nurturing the skills of your staff has obvious benefits to your business but it also makes them feel like you’re invested in them – because that’s exactly what you’re doing.
Investment in your team members is amplified by being able to track their upskilling to advancement within the company. This typically looks like a promotion, but for some smaller businesses that might not be possible. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of this retention tactic. There are lots of varying accounting qualifications and institutes that would be a boon for your staff and your business to be associated with.
The ICAEW has a lot of advice on how to get started and what to train your staff in. Remember that training doesn’t just mean technical skills – soft skills are often forgotten but just as important.
The team at Consortium are led by award-winning boss Lara Squires – we know first-hand what it’s like to be engaged with our work. If you’re struggling, we can support you as you work to retain your accounting staff. We offer training specific to professional services to upskill your team and if all else fails, comprehensive recruitment marketing packages.
Get in touch with Lara today on 01903 530787 for a chat about how we can support you.