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7 Common Mistakes Killing Retention at Accounting Firms

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Is your business struggling to retain team members to meet your accounting needs? You’re not alone!  

Workplace mobility is at an all-time high, and retaining quality talent has become a massive challenge for accounting firms across Australia and New Zealand.  

Why Retention Matters

Losing valuable team members through excess attrition can disrupt workflow, affect client relationships, and incur significant costs to your business. As employees exit the building, the cost of recruitment, onboarding, and lost productivity can seriously affect profitability. 

Overcoming Retention Challenges

The good news? Increased workplace mobility is affecting your competitors, too, and getting retention right can deliver a significant competitive advantage. Leverage our list of 7 Common Mistakes Killing Staff Retention at Accounting Firms (and how to avoid them) to develop a strategic plan to keep your team members longer. 

1: Work-Life Balance

Overworked. Underpaid. Undervalued.  

Challenge:

Accounting professionals frequently deal with tight deadlines, heavy workloads, and long hours, quickly leading to burnout. According to FloQast’s study, a whopping 99% of accountants have experienced some form of burnout. Ignoring the work-life balance of your team can rapidly lead to higher attrition.  

work life balance

Solution:

As Accountants Daily put it, shifting from productivity to efficiency means your team will do more with less. The latest strategy focuses on using technology to complete processes faster. New solutions, including unified tools, can enable overworked, time-poor staff to focus on high-value tasks that tip the scales towards work-life balance.  

In addition to investing in technology-driven efficiency, you should regularly check in with team members to ensure job roles and duties align with capabilities. Adopting a proactive approach to role alignment can increase retention in employees who may have become disheartened by tasks not aligned with their skills. 

2: Professional Development Opportunities

Failing to Invest in your team’s growth. 

Challenge:

Talented accountants seek continuous growth and learning opportunities throughout their careers. Failing to provide sufficient professional development and skill enhancement avenues can lead to employee disengagement and staff retention issues. Millennials and Gen Z consider the lack of career growth opportunities a major reason for leaving their jobs.

Solution:

Build personalised development plans for your team members and offer training, certifications, and opportunities to engage in challenging projects.

3: Recognition and Appreciation

Failing to celebrate your team’s hard work and achievements.

Challenge:

Nobody wants to feel like their efforts go unnoticed, or their work is taken for granted. Lack of recognition for hard work and accomplishments can lead to your team becoming demotivated and significant issues with retention.  

If your team is younger (Millennials and Gen Z), it’s vital for you to understand and appreciate their generational need to feel valued.   

Solution:

Regularly take the time to acknowledge the efforts and achievements of your team, regardless of the impact. Celebrate team milestones and contributions to foster a culture of belonging and pride.  

4: An Unclear Vision

Failing to inspire and motivate your team with a clear vision. 

Challenge:

Your team needs to feel like their work matters and is essential to achieving your firm’s vision. Leaving your employees in the dark about the firm’s goals, decisions, and plans can result in disillusionment and disconnection.  

According to Rob Pillans (a former accountant), “If you don’t have that clear vision and direction for the firm that you can articulate to the team or get them involved in building it, go back and start there.” 

Solution:

Employees need to feel a sense of purpose in the work they do, and you can achieve this through open lines of communication, including regular team meetings and informative emails. Involve your team in decision-making processes when appropriate and ensure everyone is clear on your values and direction.  

5: Desperation Hiring

Failing to develop a talent for finding the right talent. 

Challenge:

A crucial staff retention mistake many accounting firms make is resorting to desperation hires, resulting in a misalignment between new employees and your firm’s culture, requirements, or existing team.  

As the workload piles up, trying to fill roles with any candidate is understandable. Yet, hiring incompatible candidates can lead to decreased team cohesion and increased turnover. Short-term gain, ultimately resulting in long-term pain. 

Solution:

Establish clearly defined roles, outlining responsibilities and expectations before you begin your search. Next, consider your firm’s culture, values, and existing team to ensure that you attract candidates who align well with all aspects of your firm. 

6: Minimal Induction

Failing to build a solid foundation for success from day one.

Challenge:

A common retention oversight in accounting firms is the mistaken belief that a half-day induction is sufficient for new employees. Everyone wants their new team members to hit the ground running and deliver value immediately. However, failing to provide your new team members with the solid foundation needed for their role can hinder long-term success. 

Solution:

Investing in a comprehensive induction process is critical to the hiring process. Induction should include providing accessible workflow diagrams, templates, and training videos. Post-induction, regular check-ins throughout the initial weeks are essential. This commitment to a structured induction empowers employees to thrive and contribute effectively. 

Tips for designing your induction process 1

7: Failure to Delegate

Failing to use the most appropriate resource for the task requirements.  

Challenge:

An often overlooked aspect of staff retention in Australian accounting firms is the reluctance to delegate tasks. Rob Pillans, a former accountant and founder of Planet Consulting, revealed that a significant portion of directors’ and managers’ responsibilities could be effectively carried out by junior staff.  

Solution:

Delegate tasks to the most appropriate resources in your firm to enhance efficiency, allow senior staff to focus on higher-value tasks, and provide growth opportunities. 

Ensure seamless delegation and effective knowledge transfer by documenting your processes with checklists, process documents, or screencast recordings. In addition to enhancing efficiency, these educational resources can cultivate a culture of continuous improvement and shared learning throughout your team. 

How TOA Global Can Assist Your Accounting Firm

Are you tired of the recruitment struggle and lengthy onboarding processes? TOA Global can take the burden off your hands.

Our global pool of Australian-trained accountants and bookkeepers is ready to dive into work immediately, eliminating the time-consuming hassles of hiring and training in Australian accounting skills.

Here’s what you can expect from our ready-to-hire talent:

  • Dedicated professionals in your time zone.
  • Educated by Australian accounting experts
  • Over 200 hours of training in Australian accounting practices
  • Degrees in finance and accounting.
  • More than 2 years of hands-on accounting or bookkeeping experience.
  • Xero Advisor & Payroll Certified.

Want to learn more about our global accounting talent and explore offshoring options? You can find further details at https://toaglobal.com/au/solution/locally-trained-talent/

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