Working with CPA firms throughout the country, one thing that we hear about repeatedly is the issue of retaining top talent as well as recruiting some of the best and brightest coming into the profession. I think the first focus for leaders in our profession is to keep the talent that they have already invested time and resources in. By increasing the investment in your top talent with various trainings and/or tools, firms can optimize on these emerging leaders who already have knowledge and a connection with the firm. In this article you will find some resources that your firm can utilize to start working to increase your retention rates.
One way to retain your top employees is to invest in a leadership training program. Many emerging leaders in our profession have mentioned that they want to be leaders in their firm, but they don’t feel they’ve received the right skills training to be a strong leader. By investing the time and money into getting them the core skills training they need you show them that they are an important asset to your firm, that you see their potential and that you want them to stay with your organization.
There are several leadership training programs available; some of these programs are geared directly to the development of leaders in our profession while others might be a little more generalized and focused on leadership skills that can be applied to many different professions. For example, our P3 Leadership Academy was developed specifically for the CPA profession whereas a local program provided through a college or university would be more generalized. The most important thing is to do your research and find the training that aligns with your firm goals/vision.
Another tool to consider is a stay interview. Unlike an exit interview that looks at the reasons why someone left the firm, a stay interview finds out what your employees like about working for your firm and what improvements the firm can make to be an even better place to work for. These stay interviews will ask questions like, “What are the top reasons why you enjoy your job?” or “Is there anything you’d like to change about your job?”, and the feedback is invaluable.
Some firms will conduct these interviews themselves and start implementing some changes and adjustments from the feedback they receive while others will hire an outside consultant who can help facilitate the process. Whichever way you determine to implement the stay interview, be sure to start addressing the feedback that is similar across the entire firm so your employees understand that you are listening to their ideas and willing to take action.
A solid mentoring program will make a huge difference for your firm in retaining your top talent. This is a program where you would pair an emerging leader in your firm with a more experienced professional. The experienced professional would provide opportunities for the emerging leader to demonstrate their skills, challenge them, support them, give them critical feedback and, when appropriate, sponsor them into higher level positions. The process is to develop a relationship between the two that would benefit the emerging leader, the mentor and the firm.
This is another program that you can implement on your own or pull in an outside consultant who has experience with developing these programs. Either way, your top talent will have an increased sense of belonging and purpose within your organization and be more inclined to stay and increase performance.
Discuss their Future Goals and Potential
This can be incorporated in a mentoring program, however if you decide to not go through with that type of program this is still a great tool to help increase your retention. Be sure to do some sort of written goals with all of your employees and have their managers discuss their future plans. The more these goals and plans are discussed and adjusted, the more your employees are going to feel like they are being heard and have a purpose in your firm.
Here at Boomer Consulting we fill out a few different planning forms, but one is focused on future planning that looks at where we all want to be professionally and personally in 5 and 10 years. Yes, these will adjust each year, but thinking that far out helps us know what we can do between now and then to continue working towards our goals and what the company can do to support that. Feeling that support from the company really helps fuel you to continue trying to be the best employee you can be while also keeping your mind open to the possibilities that you have for growth.
Leadership Training, Stay Interviews, Mentoring Programs and discussing your employee’s future goals and potential within your firm are just a few of the resources that you can look into to decrease your rate of turnover. I also want to make note that some of these are great things to advertise to potential employees to help recruit the best and brightest. If a potential employee sees that you offer leadership training, have a solid mentoring program and make their future goals a priority, they will find that attractive and be more likely to take a job with your organization over a competitor since they see that you invest in your employees.