"I just can't find anyone to work." This isn't a comment heard at restaurants or retails stores. Instead, it was being spoken by many accounting and bookkeeping practice leaders at Scaling New Heights 2021. You and your peers are saying that you are having a hard time finding applicants, hiring new workers and retaining workers. Why exactly is that?
For employers as a whole, the answer isn't exactly clear.
There have been many suggested causes of the labor shortage over the past 18 months, ranging from the federal unemployment payments to fear of catching COVID. Although some of the general potential causes of labor shortages may have affected accounting and bookkeeping practices, the ability for accountants and bookkeepers to quickly pivot to remote work mitigated most of those causes. So why are firms struggling to find workers?
Compressed Labor Pool
Thought leaders have been discussing the pending retirement bubble in accounting for years. Unfortunately, COVID may have accelerated the pace of retirement. For those already at an age where retirement is a viable option, the balance between work and life, a general existential dread that has had many of us re-evaluating our lives as a whole, and other factors outside of income have tipped the scale toward earlier retirement. At the same time, thought leaders are pointing to decreasing numbers of new accountants and bookkeepers entering the workforce.
The compressed labor pool is reflected in the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate that each year until 2030 will see over 170,000 job openings, despite the fact that employment is expected to decline by 3% each year. Simply put, demand for workers is expected to outpace shrinking employment.
If you are struggling to find workers to fill open positions, be creative. Maybe this is the time to consider outsourcing some of your work. Or, maybe this is the time to hone your practices in leading your team so that you can effectively compete for workers as you build your team.
Intangibles Are Greater Than Tangibles
Although a lot is being said in the media about the effect of increased pay on acquiring and retaining workers, there tends to be a level of parity between employers within an industry. So, if you are only looking at the pay rate you offer, you may be missing out on these best practices that may move the needle much more than a small increase in pay.
- Define and reinforce the vision for your practice.
- Nurture relationships with your team.
- Create opportunities to listen to your team, such as simply asking, "Please tell me one thing about the company you don't think that I want to hear."
- Build ways for your team to be able to see their own progress, both in terms of their day-to-day client work and in terms of their overall performance.
- Develop ways for your team to have control over their own progress in your firm.