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4 Uncommon but Effective Accounting Firm Retention Strategies

Tim Sines
Posted by Tim Sines on Feb 21, 2024 8:14:25 AM

While remote work may have given us flexibility with regard to our physical location and the number of clients we are able to work with, there are some disadvantages for employers. Instead of competing only with the firms in your city or metro area for talent, you now have to consider firms anywhere looking to hire the same kinds of professionals as a potential competitor.

Even before COVID-19 decentralized the workforce, business experts were talking and writing about the “battle for talent” among companies looking to not only hire but keep skilled professionals working for their firm. And while the relatively rapid rise of remote work may have thrown some employers for a loop, it has also equalized the battlefield.

That’s because firms no longer need to offer prospective team members a gleaming office in a prime location that’s chock-full of amenities. In today’s remote-forward era of work, there are a few retention strategies that accounting firms can use, whether the majority of their team is in the same office or across the globe. Here are four tips you might not have considered before that can help you make attracting and retaining talent much easier: 

1. Offer flexible schedules for your team

Your accounting firm is subject to dates and deadlines, but in most cases, those refer to a particular day. Most firms (though there are exceptions) don’t require team members to be working during a specific set of hours as long as their tasks are done. One recent study of workplace trends found that almost two out of every three workers prefer a hybrid work setup with room for flexibility.

Of course, the term “flexibility” means something different to every employee and every firm. It’s up to you to decide what the exact definition is and how it will apply to your team. Our suggestion is to provide as much as you can, even if it makes management a little uncomfortable at first.

2. Provide a community – even for remote workers

One of the things both employees and employers miss about working in the same physical location as the rest of their company is the random synergy that sometimes occurs when people get together. From planned brainstorming sessions in conference rooms to spur-of-the-moment happy hours and lunches, these events not only help employees feel more connected to the firm, but they can also result in some great ideas and solutions for challenges in the workplace.

It may seem impossible to recreate this kind of workplace culture without being in the same physical space as your colleagues, but it can be done – you just have to use some creativity.

For example, many companies have started hosting virtual events that involve physical items mailed to each participant in advance. One idea is a firm-wide chocolate tasting, where employees are each sent a sampling of different chocolates and then speak to a specialist in a virtual meeting to describe the textures and flavors of each type. Other remote-friendly options include trivia competitions and popular party games.

Even if it seems a bit uncomfortable in the beginning, your remote team will appreciate the effort. And if you’re lucky enough to be in close physical proximity to your team, there are plenty of well-documented ways to host company events that bring people together.

3. Be as honest and open as possible

It sounds easy enough – every employer likes to believe that they are always upfront about everything. But there are probably many areas where you could be a bit more forthcoming about happenings in your firm. That’s not to say you have to divulge every detail about your company’s operation to all employees, but you might consider incorporating some of your personal feelings about a matter you discuss with your team.

When employees see that their company has a culture of being honest and open, it allows them to feel more comfortable in their own skin. This helps create a strong sense of loyalty to an employer that sees their unique value. As The Harvard Business Review put it in a recent article, making employees feel special and highly valued is often more important than financial compensation, especially for younger employees. This is a cultural value accessible to a firm of any size with any amount of financial resources available.

4. Show an embrace of new technology

Most people in the accounting industry not only look to their employer for financial security, but also to cue them into the latest trends and techniques happening in the field. From the latest kinds of client advisory services (CAS) to the newest accounting practice management software, turning your firm into a forward-thinking business with tech can be enough on its own to attract a certain type of accounting talent.

If you’re open about your business and the way it puts new technology at the center of operations – and actually practice what you preach – prospective talent will be more likely to look your way. The highest performers are always hungry to keep learning about the newest tools in their field.

Final thoughts on unorthodox hiring advice

Not all of these points will work for every accounting firm, and you don’t have to incorporate every single one of them all at once. You might consider picking one or two and creating a plan to gradually implement them in your firm. The more you can do to position your firm to be a place people will want to work, the more likely you’ll be able to bring on skilled team members who stay with you for the long haul.

Sponsored Content: This article is generously brought to you by one of our valued sponsors. Their support enables us to continue delivering expert insights and the latest industry trends to our dedicated community of accounting professionals.

Topics: Practice Management, Human Resources


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