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4 Great Ways to Lose Talent

RecruitmentFew practitioners would be surprised that CPAs identified staffing as a chief concern in the 2017 PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Survey. Unfortunately, many firms inadvertently make mistakes that prevent them from keeping their best people or making use of their talents. Outlined below are four mistakes many firms make. This list isn’t meant to be all encompassing, as there’s several other mistakes firms make to push people out the door. Need help? Don’t worry, there’s help in the end.

1. Keep your story to yourself. What’s so great about your firm? If you don’t speak about this with your employees, they may not be aware of the value your practice provides to clients, the firm’s standing in the community or the difference it makes through volunteer or charitable efforts. Instead, recruits and newer staff may only ever receive a fairly generic description of the firm and its offerings. Telling your firm’s story—in a formal program or in informal conversations at staff meetings or one-on-one—can better engage people and enhance their commitment to the practice.

2. Keep employees guessing about their future. When staff aren’t convinced there are advancement opportunities available to them at your firm, they’ll start looking elsewhere. You can prevent this by establishing a formal career path plan to demonstrate how promising professionals can advance in the firm. Many may not realize the financial and other advantages of becoming a firm owner. As a result, they may assume there’s little chance or incentive to move up. Do you have a sense of your employees’ aspirations? It’s also a good practice to survey and interview employees to gain a better understanding of their personal goals. Maintaining open communication can improve retention rates.

3. Keep your organization siloed. Do your employees have an understanding of how their work fits into the bigger picture at your firm? Including staff in client meetings, firm planning and networking opportunities helps them gain a larger perspective on the work you do and makes them feel more included and engaged. Another option is to encourage staff to get involved in the firm’s volunteer activities or ask them to help identify ways the firm can make a difference in your community.

4. Overlook great people. Have you assumed that a parent of young children has no interest in advancement because of family responsibilities? If a gifted staff member has never asked for a promotion, do you figure he or she is happy where they are? Instead of missing out on their possible contributions, consider the options for all your people, and help identify their career goals. Making the most of the people you have on staff minimizes turnover costs and disruptions, and also allows the firm to benefit from their experience and abilities.

Where to find help

If you’re making any of these mistakes, there are simple ways to change course and avoid losing star players. The AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section’s CPA Firm Top Issues Survey commentary includes not only more information on staffing and other key concerns, but also a checklist of tools and resources firms can use to address their most pressing challenges. The PCPS Human Capital Center and Firm inMotion e-Toolkit are among those critical resources. Whenever you need to tackle common practice problems, put these resources to work. Your firm’s team members will be glad you did.

Mark Koziel, CPA, Executive Vice President- Firm Services, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

Job candidates courtesy of Shutterstock.

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