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How workplace trends are affecting small businesses

Shutterstock_1075401614It’s widely known that finding top-tier talent is a challenge many small CPA firms and other small businesses face. On the most recent episode of The Small Biz Brunch, a podcast from AICPA’s #CPApowered campaign, I chatted with Mark Astrinos, CPA/PFS about this issue, changing trends in the workplace and how they’re affecting bottom lines and company cultures. A business owner himself, he had some key insights into hiring and retaining top talent, especially when it comes to millennials. We’ve distilled three of those in this post (lets people know there is more info in the podcast).

It’s not just about the salary anymore.

A survey from the AICPA found that Americans would choose a job with benefits over an identical job that offered a salary 30% higher, but no benefits. These days, benefits – or perks – can be anything from 401(k) matches to delicious snacks in the break room. Overall, employees want to feel valued, which probably means providing more than just an appealing number on a paycheck (although, let’s be honest, that’s pretty important too).

Employees need help navigating their benefit packages.

According to the survey, only 28% of working Americans are very confident they’re using their benefits to their fullest potential. That’s likely a lot of money being left on the table. Think back to when you were on-boarded at your first job; remember all the paperwork you had to sign? And the handbook you had to read through? And that’s on top of learning your job function. It’s understandable that learning the ins and outs of your benefits took a backseat (maybe something like this as a transition). Although it’s ultimately the employee’s responsibility to make the most of their benefit package, it doesn’t hurt to for employers to offer opportunities to walk them through it from time to time. You can do this by hosting a Lunch n’ Learn with your insurance provider, or have an open-door policy if an employee ever has a question about their retirement plan. When employees to get the most from their plan, you’re getting your investment’s worth as an employer.  

They don’t want your grandfather’s PTO plan.

Paid time off. It’s something that’s been debated over and over again, and still no one can seem to come up with the perfect solution. However, if you’re only offering four days of vacation time with no option to work remotely – well, don’t expect to attract the kind of talent you really want. Astrinos says that at the end of the day, it comes down to what works for your company and its culture – but if you’re not entirely sure how to manage your benefits plan, then bring in an expert to help you navigate it.

The lesson here is not to expect a potential employee to jump for joy just because you’re offering them a big, fat paycheck but limited PTO. And, don’t expect to retain your top employee because you gave them a promotion but no opportunities for outside learning. Employees need a competitive salary, but are often motivated by more than just their paycheck. Offering a work-life balance will increase staff loyalty and help attract top-tier talent.

If you need resources for your small CPA firm, check out what the AICPA offers with your membership. And if you’d like to hear my whole conversation about trends in the workplace, check out The Small Biz Brunch podcast.

Samantha Delgado, Manager – Communications, PR & Corporate Responsibility, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants 


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