You’ve invested countless hours, effort, and money training each of your team members to handle the delicacies of client relationships and the technicalities involved in the work they do. You’ve trained them to adopt a routine that makes everything they do look easy. Clients come to you because taxes are confusing and time-consuming, and your staff members are knowledgeable and helpful. The thought of training somebody new is daunting. It’s difficult to transfer years of knowledge and experience from one team member to another. You’ll inevitably need to train new staff from scratch.
Employee turnover doesn’t just affect business owners. Some employees fear the day they’ll be burdened with a heavy workload when a team member quits. Team members know that if they’re capable of handling the overflow, business owners might take advantage of that and postpone hiring someone new.
People quit their jobs for reasons they don’t always make known. Sometimes they get a better job offer from a competitor, but it’s not always more money driving the decision. Focusing on your retention strategies is the most effective way to minimize the pain of employee turnover.
1. Keep your office properly staffed
Staff members get frustrated when there aren’t enough helping hands to go around. When any business is short staffed, the employees are the first to feel it – and they feel it hard.
When short staffed, business owners distribute heavy workloads, which can make staff members feel resentful. When staff members feel negative emotions toward their employer, their performance takes a dive and they eventually quit.
Your accounting firm will operate optimally (and client relationships will be stronger) when your office is properly staffed.
2. Create an uplifting company culture
Every business has a company culture, whether it’s created intentionally or not. Creating a culture intentionally will make your staff feel more connected and trusting of the company.
A healthy company culture supports employees in their basic need to trust the organization they work for. For example, staff members need to trust their employer will follow through with promises, be open to communications, treat them fairly, and pay them on time. They also need to feel respected and acknowledged for their work and contributions that fall outside of their job description.
A positive company culture prevents feelings of negativity from taking root. When left to grow, negative emotions will lead to turnover.
One business owner conducted a “Decision to Leave” post-exit survey on the internet and found that many people expressed emotions like disappointment, frustration, anger, disillusionment, dismay, resentment, and betrayal. The survey made it clear that people rarely leave a job based on reasoned thinking, but rather, the decision to quit is often rooted in strong negative emotions.
Data from multiple surveys shows that Millennials (people aged 18-35) want a job that gives them a sense of meaning. To them, meaning and purpose is more important than a bigger paycheck. You can’t bribe a Millennial to stay in a job they don’t enjoy by offering financial bonuses and a raise.
A LinkedIn survey found that 74% of job candidates want to feel like their work matters. It’s no longer enough to use a quarterly bonus or annual raise to retain staff members.
Work on creating a company culture that makes staff feel like their work is meaningful. Nobody likes doing their taxes, and your staff members are relieving a huge burden from clients. Sure, they’re generating income for you, but that shouldn’t be the focus of company culture. Profits are important and numbers are important, but people are more important than anything.
3. Build slack into your daily operations
Without slack, your staff members carry a full load around the clock. That means you have no room to move people around and redistribute workloads when you lose a staff member or become exceptionally busy. Building slack into your daily operations gives staff time in the day to better manage their tasks and even help with things outside their job description.
When your staff members only have time to perform their daily list of tasks, and there’s no free time, you’ll be in big trouble when someone leaves. All your experienced team members will be too busy to take on the extra work. You can hire someone temporarily, but no matter how skilled they are with accounting, you’ll still have to train them in your company’s strategies. Your existing staff will either need to keep training your temp, or do the work themselves. Either way, your staff will bear the burden.
Building slack into your daily operations will give you a cushion for those inevitable times when you need to shift duties around. This will prevent staff from becoming bitter and resentful toward you for overloading them.
4. Stop paying staff hourly wages
Hourly wages don’t give staff any incentive to support the company beyond showing up and doing their assigned tasks for the day. A salaried employee, on the other hand, is more likely to help where needed. For example, they’ll probably help with documenting and improving processes.
Hourly employees will see where processes can be improved, but if they’ve got a daily workload to get through, and they get paid no matter what, there’s no incentive to reach beyond their hourly tasks.
The only people who can document and improve your processes are your staff members. You can’t do it alone. Improving a process requires input from everyone involved in the daily work and those who communicate with clients regularly.
No process is perfect, but staff are forgiving when their input is being used to continually improve a process. If you must pay staff hourly, find a way to incentivize them to contribute to process documentation and improvement. Pay them a bonus, give them a raise, or ask them what they want.
5. Standardize your processes
Standardizing company processes is critical to your firm’s success. When you don’t have documented processes, it takes a significant amount of time to train new people. You’re always starting from scratch with each person, and there’s no guarantee they’ll be trained in the same way as the last person. Details are easily missed, and without documentation, standardization and consistency won’t exist.
When your systems and processes are standardized, it’s easier to move staff around when you need to fill in some gaps. When all staff are trained to use the same systems, swapping staff is easy.
6. Ask your staff what you can do for them
Don’t be afraid to directly ask your staff what you can do for them. They’ll feel taken care of and appreciated just by your inquiry. If you need your staff to step up their game, this is how to do it.
If a staff member is unhappy, giving them the opportunity to express their dissatisfaction without fear of repercussions is crucial. Let them know you’re asking because you care about their workload and want to make their life easier. Approach the situation from the perspective of being there to help your staff. Then, when they share what you can do to help, act on it.
7. Outsource the mundane and tedious tasks
Your team doesn’t have to be overwhelmed with mundane and tedious tasks. Your business should be built around developing strong client relationships, and if tasks are getting in the way, outsource them.
You can outsource everything from payroll to marketing. You can even outsource your main service – tax preparation. Tax preparation outsourcing is a great way to lift the burden of a heavy workload and free up your staff to focus on client relationships.
At Taxfyle, we specialize in outsourcing tax preparation to licensed professionals to relieve firms during the busy tax season. Outsourcing with us will help you maximize your engagement margins and drive down operating costs, all while keeping all of your clients’ data in US and in the hands of credentialed professionals. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.