How Can an Accounting Firm Become an Employer of Choice?
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In order for your firm to hire and retain top talent, it is important to understand the value of creating an environment that employees can feel comfortable in. We all know that a great team of dedicated professionals is essential for any successful enterprise, but how do you go above and beyond to make your firm a desirable employer? In this blog post, we will discuss practical ways that your firm can become an employer of choice not just with new hires, but current staff as well. Through showcasing company values, emphasizing professional growth opportunities, creating a flexible atmosphere and courteous interactions between management and staff - we’ll help you inspire your ideal applicants!
Establish a culture of respect and appreciation among staff members
Creating a culture of respect and appreciation amongst staff, and an environment where everyone feels empowered and valued sets the stage for growth and innovation. As the company grows, it's crucial to establish trust with all employees, developing channels of communication and fostering positive interactions outside of all that work chat. Our friend Brenton Ward over at WIZE Mentoring (www.wizementoring.com) suggests that creating a no blame culture is a key component of a healthy work environment attractive to potential employees. “Create a culture where everyone is accountable to building extraordinary systems to run the business. And when something goes wrong, the team takes ownership of the problem/challenge and pledges to improve the system as opposed to looking around for someone to blame for the problem. This creates a solutions focused environment.”
Brenton also mentioned the importance of showing vulnerability at a leadership level: “when leaders show vulnerability it creates an environment of trust and safety for team members to do the same. This helps us move through challenges swiftly and encourages everyone to take ownership of their role and responsibilities, knowing they can put their hand up without judgement and say, “I need help” “I stuffed up” “I don’t know what to do here” “I need support”.”
Allow employees to demonstrate their value to the team by encouraging their input and celebrating accomplishments. Creating a positive working atmosphere in which respect and appreciation are shared can foster overall success, attracting candidates to apply.
Encourage flexible working hours and remote work options to make life easier for employees
Consider implementing flexible working hours and remote work options. Such policies can not only make life easier for employees, but also help to create a more positive and inclusive workplace atmosphere. You might already notice younger candidates actively seeking out flexible working policies. Providing such opportunities can remove the traditional nine-to-five pressure from employee's lives, allowing them to better balance their personal and professional priorities.
Creating policies that offer shared goal setting, feedback loops, effective communication strategies and defined performance metrics can ensure each employee is given equitable opportunities for success regardless of where they are physically working from. As our friend Michael Ly from remote accounting firm Reconciled (www.reconciled.com) put it, the key to successful remote working is “regularly connecting as a team remotely to create a sense of belonging to and being part of a larger team.” Ultimately, these measures will create a more attractive place to work with higher levels of job satisfaction.
Provide professional development opportunities such as courses, conferences, or seminars
Create a motivating and productive work environment by prioritizing professional development opportunities is key to any successful organization, as they can help team members to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and skills related to their profession. Facilitating such opportunities for employees – such as courses, conferences, and seminars improves employee retention but will also build a sense of loyalty within the team. Investing in the professional development of your team reinforces recognition of talent, an attractive consideration for prospective candidates. There are some great podcasts your team can listen to as well, which are always discussing the cutting edge of change in accounting – for example the Cloud Accounting Podcast (www.cloudaccountingpodcast.com)
Give employees access to the latest technology tools and software
In today's competitive job market, it pays to invest in staying ahead of the curve. Giving your employees access to state-of-the-art technology tools and software results in a productive and efficient work environment and keeps up with changing industry regulations and trends – allowing your firm to thrive. Showing your employees that you are willing to invest in them and their work environment will demonstrate how much you value them for the skills they bring to the workplace.
Offer competitive salaries and benefits to attract the best talent
Prioritize offering competitive salaries and benefits to attract the best talent. Scrimping on salary offers is false economy, as ultimately the only way to increase partner incomes is to have a capable team. Beyond salary, prospective employees should be offered opportunities for career progression, professional development, and remote working flexibility to make them feel valued within the firm. Don’t fall into the trap of paying more for new hires than you’re paying existing team members doing the same role – give respect if you want respect.
Think about how your strategic plan incorporates these concepts – it might be time to revisit the “employer of choice” section of your plan (or perhaps include it for the first time)!
About the Authors
Giles Pearson FCA was a PwC Partner for 18 years before jointly setting up Accountests.
Steve Evans has a whole career dedicated to enabling employers to attract, recruit, develop and retain talented individuals and teams, with particular expertise in candidate testing and assessment before setting up Accountests.
Accountests deliver the world’s only online suite of annually updated and country-specific technical knowledge tests designed by accountants for accountants and bookkeepers.