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4 Questions to Prevent Mind Stray in Meetings

Posted By Deanna Perkins, Solutions Advisor, Friday, December 2, 2016

We’ve all been there: sitting in a meeting that may or may not be necessary, but our mind is 1,000 miles away, thinking about the mountain of ‘real’ work waiting for us once the meeting is over. There may be some truth to the old saying, “If you want to kill time, the meeting is the perfect weapon.” Yet there are times when meetings are productive and valuable, and you do need to be there – mentally and physically. Before you send or accept your next meeting invitation, ask these four questions.

Is it necessary?

A 2014 piece from Harvard Business Review made a case for three fundamental reasons to hold a meeting (outside of general relationship building):

  1. To inform and bring people up to speed.
  2. To seek input from people.
  3. To ask for approval.

If the meeting serves none of these goals, it probably doesn’t need to happen.

Who needs to be there?

Every person in attendance at a meeting should be a resource, able to contribute through knowledge, experience or both. Some people are prone to falling into the trap of attending meetings just to feel important, but ask yourself this question, “If I was sick, would this meeting have to be rescheduled?” If the meeting could go on just fine without your presence, you probably don’t need to be there.

What’s on the agenda?

If the agenda is in someone’s head, it’s a problem. An agenda should be set in writing and shared with all participants. The more detail, the better. Consider allocating a set number of minutes to each agenda item, and make sure to stick with it during the meeting.

When participants know what’s on the agenda before the meeting, they have time to prepare for the meeting, can choose to attend only sections that are vital for them, and are more likely to stay engaged and present.

How long does it need to be?

Consider this: TED talks are inspiring, educational, informative and never last longer than 18 minutes. The short length is one of the reasons behind their success. We have a tendency to schedule meetings in hour-long blocks – maybe it just looks tidier on our calendars. But remember Parkinson’s law: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” Change the default length of all meetings to 15 minutes, scheduling longer when necessary, and you may be surprised at how much gets accomplished in a much shorter period.

Once you’ve determined the necessary length of time to fulfill the meeting’s purpose, make sure you start and end on time. This simple rule will help you gain favor with your colleagues because it shows you respect their time.

 

 

By Deanna Perkins
Solutions Advisor
Boomer Consulting, Inc.

 

 

 

 

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The Future of the Profession at QB Connect

Posted By Michael Wherry, CPA, Consultant, Monday, November 21, 2016

A few weeks ago I attended QB Connect, where I took in the keynote address from Intuit CEO Brad Smith. Smith discussed five trends for the future of the profession, all of which signaled to me that the profession as we know it is being changed by technology.

 

 #Social

Our clients are looking for answers, and many of them are becoming increasingly comfortable with posting their questions on social media. How can firms update their marketing strategies to take advantage of social media?

 

We counsel our Lean Clients to listen to the voice of your customers (internal and external). Following your clients (and potential clients) on social media is an excellent way to listen to that voice. Your internal customers (employees) may be understandably nervous about giving out advice on social media. But perhaps firms can train someone to engage clients on social media, laying the foundation for in-person conversations on more complex topics.

 

 #MachineLearning

Intuit is using the mass amount of data that is stored within all their products to help make their products better. From coding of transactions to helping improve margin to helping look for cash via different lending options. My big takeaway was that we are closer to a big change in how we audit financial statements than we are probably ready for. Firms should dedicate resources to figuring out how they can leverage technology to help make their audits more future-ready.

 

 #Platforms

BrightHub defines open source technology as “the production and development philosophy of allowing end users and developers to not only see the source code of software, but modify it as well.” Most platforms and software used by firms today are not very open. Smith predicts that this will change in the not so distant future, allowing developers to bring products to market that help accountants do their jobs easier. Think working smarter not harder.

 

 #Mobile

Next year is the ten year anniversary of the iPhone launch. Think about what will be possible in the next ten years. How can we integrate with clients mobile devices to help us communicate with them? If we can buy a home using a mobile device and electronic signatures, why can't we do the same with tax returns? What do our clients want? We need to be ready to use these new technologies so that we don't lose clients simply because we make it harder to do business.

 

 #Security

With everything moving digital, security is one of the most important things firms need to consider. More people are getting comfortable with the idea that the "cloud" is safe, or at least just as safe as our "regular networks." However, we need to monitor this continually to stay current.

 

Our profession continues to be challenged and changed by technology, with no signs of slowing down. Lean Six Sigma helps firms manage change by addressing the two critical why questions; why do we need to change and why will this idea be better? With the pace of technological change, we need to recognize that we might not have a choice about answering the first why question; why do we need to change? Focusing on two lean principles - continuous improvement and customers define value - can help you answer the second why question; why will this new technology be better? The concept of continuous improvement helps us focus on improving our processes and adapt them to technology. Matching your processes, technology and the voice of your customer will put you best position with your clients rather than being the victim of that change.

 

By Michael Wherry, CPA
Consultant
Boomer Consulting, Inc.

 

 

 

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How are Firms Calculating ROI for Technology Spend?

Posted By by Marc Staut, MCP, MCSA, MCTS and Jim Boomer, CPA, CITP, MBA, Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Every day, accounting firm partners and IT Directors face decisions about investing in IT projects. Often, there are more opportunities or projects than a firm can reasonably expect to devote their limited time and financial resources toward. Do firms choose their areas of investment by looking at which ones will give the greatest return in a relevant timescale? What about intangible benefits that cannot be quantified by traditional ROI calculations?

How do Chief Information Officers make those decisions?

Return on Investment (ROI) is a commonly used calculation in the business world for deciding which projects to invest in, but often we see accounting firms use ROI calculations as excuses for why necessary change cannot happen.

In fact, no standard measurement can be applied to every situation or project. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a crucial business tool for tracking and measuring successes, but not always the most useful metric for judging the efficacy of IT investments. The soft benefits of IT projects cannot always be measured, yet they may be just as important in determining quality or success. Sometimes, the best tool available for measuring a project’s impact is simply experience.

Having the proper IT governance structure in place can help your firm keep up with the changing landscape of technology and ensure that technology decisions are made in support of the firm’s goals and objectives. A critical component of creating alignment between strategy and technology is giving your CIO a seat at the management table.

CIOs bring a different perspective to management. They may not be tied to legacy decisions or systems that are no longer optimal for the firm (if they ever were), so they can more easily recognize opportunities for improvement, develop new services and revenue streams and integrate technology as a strategic advantage.

Here, we interviewed three CIOs from firms across the country to learn more about how they calculate ROI for technology spend and other factors they take into consideration when making decisions about opportunities and projects.

Download the white paper by clicking - HERE

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Voice of the Customer: Assumptions or Actuality?

Posted By Jacqueline Ratzing, Project Manager, Tuesday, November 15, 2016


In Lean Six Sigma, we talk a lot about the “voice of the customer” (VoC). The VoC is a process used to capture the requirements/feedback from a customer to provide them with the best in class service or product quality. It is all about being proactive and innovating in capturing the requirements that may change over time.

In manufacturing, where Six Sigma originated, capturing the voice of the customer happens in a variety of ways: surveys, focus groups, customer specifications, warranty data, complaint logs, etc. In an accounting firm, how often do we make assumptions about what our clients consider excellent client service?

The Assumptions

How many of these sound familiar:

  • Your client has a complicated tax question. Rather than call to discuss the issue with them, you send a five-page email detailing the issues involved and the possible outcomes based on different scenarios. The client calls you back to discuss it, unable to process the information overload included in your email.
  • You meet with a potential new client needing bookkeeping and tax planning assistance. You go into the meeting and tell them exactly what services you’ll perform and what deliverables you’ll provide because that’s the way you do things. The client’s actual needs and expectations never come up.
  • A long-term client receives the same services, schedules and communications that they’ve received for a decade. Their needs and preferences may have changed, but this is the way we’ve always done it, so we keep going.

The Antidote

Few accounting firms have a formalized program for collecting customer feedback, and if they do, it’s typically reactive rather than proactive. That’s why it’s so important to have conversations with your client to find out exactly what services they value and how you can best deliver them.

Your first real conversation with a new client should involve asking them exactly what they are looking for, rather than informing them of what you plan to deliver.

For long-term clients, you should set a goal of doing an annual recap to find out if the service you’ve been providing still meets their needs. Don’t beat around the bush. Ask them directly, “Do you still find value in this?”

Make assumptions about what our clients want and need often leads to a disconnect between the value we believe we’re providing and the value our clients feel they’re receiving. So take a look. Challenge some of the assumptions you’re making about what your clients want. You may find the actual voice of the customer sounds a little different from the one you heard in your head.

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while or the light won’t come in.” – Isaac Asimov

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Insights from the 2016 Boomer Technology Circles™ Summit

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Our BTC communities met in Kansas City during August, always an exciting opportunity to connect with old and new members alike. We value these opportunities to listen to presentations from some of the most knowledgeable minds in the industry and take part in authentic learning and relationship building.

Every chance to meet with these high-performing firms brings trends and topics that are common amongst firms of all sizes. Here, we’ve highlighted and summarized some of the conversations going on right now.

     1. Technology and Security

Cybersecurity is at the top of most firms’ priority list and despite efforts to secure data and physical locations, the number one risk is people and their decisions. Security awareness training for your team is imperative. Member firms REDW and Perkins & CO shared their strategies for ensuring that new and existing staff are sufficiently trained and finally stop clicking on suspicious links! Security training can’t be limited to the onboarding process or just an hour a year. It needs to be continuous and include temps and independent contractors.

Of course, everyone wants to talk tech: cloud computing, mobile, integration, automation, security and strategy. We discussed the latest trends and what is available today.  How do you balance maintaining security while deploying tools to enable your team to do their work? How can firms determine which options are the best fit considering needs as well as costs?

2. Firm Culture

Creating a positive firm culture is essential to building your brand. After all, your people are your brand. We discussed three simple steps to help firms positively impact culture, incorporate the one thing that makes people want to do business with your company and take community involvement past ‘giving back’ to make a significant impact.

3. Optimizing Buy-In to Process Improvement

The status quo is no longer acceptable in today's CPA firm. Technology and the external economic environment continue to evolve and change rapidly –those that don’t get on board with change and process improvement will rapidly fall behind. Dustin Hostetler of Boomer Consulting, Inc. facilitated a workshop to help participants develop strategies for optimizing buy-in at all levels of the firm, including the all-important partner level.

4. Data Analytics

Firms collect a lot of data about clients and employees. How can we transform that data into a powerful decision-making tool? Steve Mustafa, Director of Business Systems & Marketing at The Siegfried Group and Valerie Musial, Project Manager at Habif Arogeti & Wynne, LLP shared how their firms have started the process of leveraging technology to extract key insights and make them easily accessible through dashboards. We also discussed KPIs and how those metrics help in decision making and measurement.

5. Using Technology to Automate Processes

As technology becomes more sophisticated, the opportunities to automate manual tasks increase immensely.  From expense reimbursement to bill pay, cloud technologies are allowing us to automate several tasks that add little value from the client’s perspective, yet require a lot of time and resources.

In a collaborative discussion, we dove a little deeper into the automation of client risk management. One of the highest risk activities is taking on a new client. Yet, we have limited tools to manage and limit our exposure to risk during the onboarding phase. Independence and confilicts of interest checks are often handled by a combination of discussions and spreadsheets, leaving us open to errors and oversight.  We learned about tools that can help your firm avoid missing out on lucrative client relationships and lay the path to business success.

6. HR Innovation

In an open Q&A session, participants asked questions of Christina Ricke, Principal, Mary Alyce Taylor, Talent Advisor, and Shanna Fowler-Lambing, Talent Advisor of K ·Coe Isom. Participants asked the questions concerning all firms today: onboarding, benefits, performance management, training and retention.

7. Future-Ready Firms

 

The term “future-ready firm” is thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? Dave Bufkin, CIO of Horne and Marc Staut of Boomer Consulting, Inc. asked “What Makes a Firm Future Ready?” and “How Future Ready is Your Firm?”  They took a look at some past predictions for the Future CIO role and compared them to the skills and mindsets necessary for today’s technology leaders.  We introduced and discussed a new set of survey questions  that helped members gauge where their firm is in regards to Growth, Processes, Talent, Technology and Leadership.

 

8. Culture of Success

Author, Entrepreneur and Motivationalist Steven J Anderson joined us to share his insights on how to build a true culture of success.  Taking lessons from his recently published book The Culture of Success, the audience discovered the 10 natural laws that are at the heart of creating a culture that will strengthen your firm.  Fun, energizing and inspiring were the words from our audience. 

 

9. NextGen Wisdom

Twenty NextGen leaders met to discuss the future of our profession and how they believe it will affect our practices and their lives. They evaluated the areas of Leadership, Talent, Process, Growth and Technology, and several breakout groups built their future ready firm. The good news: a future ready firm is not only possible, it is probable.  

 

10. Lean Circle Key Take Away

Many people confuse "Lean" with just being a productivity initiative. While productivity is a key benefit of implementing lean projects, the vast majority of firms in the Lean Circle have found that a culture shift is just as important. The days of being content with the status quo are long gone. Today's leading firms understand that change is a part of everyday business – and that all levels of the organization need to be committed to continuous improvement – for the client, the firm and themselves. The culture of continuous improvement inside an organization is very, very powerful.

An Invitation to Participate in The Boomer Technology Circles™

Our next round of meetings will be November 14 – 17, 2016 at the InterContinental in Kansas City, MO.  To learn more about the Boomer Technology Circles community, please visit www.boomer.com/BTC.

About The Boomer Technology Circles™

A core principle of all of our communities is that professionals who share best practices and lessons learned are best-prepared to benefit from the rapid changes in our profession. The Boomer Technology Circle™ communities help firms “bridge the gap” between technology and practice management while accelerating firm growth through facilitated discussions, peer-to-peer networking and ongoing collaboration through our online communities. Learn more about the Boomer Technology Circles™ by visiting www.boomer.com/BTC.

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Help a Young Adult Soar in Eagle U

Posted By Sandra Wiley, President, Monday, November 7, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Application Deadline is January 31, 2017

I know it is an extremely busy time of the year, but take a few minutes to consider an initiative that will benefit a young adult in your life for the rest of their life!  Boomer Consulting is giving you the opportunity to make it happen this upcoming summer.  We are partnering with Eagle U (eagleuniversity.org) to offer a full scholarship to 6 young people between the ages of 15 and 21 to attend an amazing life altering event in 2017. 

What is Eagle U?  It is a four-day fun and action packed program where participants will meet with mentors with various skills and knowledge that give them inspiration, wisdom and a new way to develop a direction in life and be successful.  At Eagle U, participants will define their goals and discover the tools to reach them.  This is your chance to help a young adult get a 7-year jump-start on their future career and really anything they want in life! 

Do you want your student to learn….

  • The formula for studying less and getting better grades.
  • The secret to beating out the competition for the best scholarships and jobs.
  • The 3 biggest career decisions — why most make them backwards and end up far from where they want to be.
  • How to be a powerful communicator in person, in writing and on stage.
  • First impressions — How to impress EVERY time in an interview, on a date or on any occasion.
  • How to answer the toughest interview questions.
  • Financial success – What to do today to be financially secure tomorrow.
  • How to find quality mentors who will help you succeed in life.
  • How to increase your confidence and self-esteem.

It only takes a few steps. 

Step 1:  Identify the people in your life that either are, or have a connection with, a young adult in high school or college who needs a boost in their confidence and a roadmap for success.  Think about your team, their children or grandchildren.  Eagle U will assist them with the following:

  • Set their life direction
  • Gain a competitive advantage
  • Succeed at Everything
  • Set their strategy
  • And more!

Camp dates and location is:

  • University of Louisville, Louisville, KY - June 26 through June 30, 2017

Step 2:  The young adult will then go to our website at https://boomer.site-ym.com/page/HomeEagleU and fill out the application form.  

Step 3:  A collaborative group at Boomer Consulting will review all applications and choose and notify 6 lucky scholarship recipients.

That is it!  If you have any questions, please contact Jackie Ratzing at jacqueline.ratzing@boomer.com or Sandra Wiley at sandra.wiley@boomer.com.  

 

 

By Sandra Wiley
President
Boomer Consulting, Inc.

 

 

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Attending a Conference: Go it Alone or Take Your Coworkers?

Posted By Megan Schottler, Solutions Advisor, Friday, November 4, 2016

Recently, I attended CCH Connections: User Conference 2016. During my conversations with some of the other attendees, I heard a lot of people say it was hard to strike up a conversation with individuals who were there with a group of coworkers. It’s sort of a Catch-22. On the one hand, attending a conference with colleagues is a great opportunity to bond and spend time together in a way that just doesn’t happen at work. On the other hand, it’s easy to fall into a pattern where you spend most of your time with them and miss out on making new, valuable contacts and even friends. So, which is better? Going alone, or going as a group?

Attending a conference alone

Due to budgets or workload, your employer may send only person from your office to a conference. In this case, you don’t have to worry about spending all of your time with your coworkers, but you do still need to make a plan to make the most of your time there.

Review the schedule

Before the conference, review the schedule and mark any sessions you think are a “must attend.” If you wind up with a couple empty time slots, plan to spend that time in the trade show area. Chat with the people manning the booths. They are often very social and happy to answer questions.

Seek out other “lone wolves”

If you lean toward introversion, walking into a conference hall full of people can be intimidating, to say the least. Have a plan for connecting with another person attending the conference alone. You can usually find them standing on the outskirts of the room, perhaps feigning preoccupation with their phone. Go up to them and introduce yourself. Chances are, they’ll be relieved to have someone else initiate a conversation.

Ask a lot of questions

Remember that learning is a contact sport, so ask a lot of questions. People love to talk about themselves and most enjoy being helpful. Talk to speakers, organizers, sponsors and other attendees. Ask for recommendations on books, blogs, websites or other conferences. Ask them about what they’ve learned so far or what sessions they’re looking forward to. Ask if they’ve found a place to get a decent cup of coffee nearby. Anything to break the ice and get the conversation flowing.

Attending a conference with coworkers

Being at a conference with coworkers can be a fun way to bond outside of the office, but don’t use existing relationships as a crutch and avoid meeting new people. Talk to your coworkers beforehand to come up with a plan of action to maximize the conference experience for the whole team.

Divide and conquer

Before the conference, discuss the sessions with your coworkers to make sure there’s some variety to your experience. You may want to attend a few sessions as a group, but also split up and attend different sessions at times. Plan to have dinner or lunch together later to compare notes and talk through the most valuable takeaways from your sessions.

Keep your circle open

If you do attend a session with your coworkers, be cognizant of the other people at your table. Introduce yourself to other people sitting around you and make an effort to draw them into your conversation.

Make networking a team sport

Meet up with your coworkers for dinner in the evening, but set a goal to have each of you bring someone else they met at the conference to dinner. This is an excellent way to widen your circle of contacts and deepen your relationships with the people you meet.

Remember that conferences are what you make of them. While the sessions may provide new ideas, often the most valuable takeaways come from the conversations you have with other people and the connections you make. Prioritize spending time with new people. You never know who you’ll meet. 

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How We Use Kolbe Tools

Posted By Jon Hubbard, Director of Business Development, Thursday, October 27, 2016

Work is complex. Whether we’re working with clients or co-workers, success requires drawing on a broad range of strengths and talents. We bring on new clients, hire people and build teams to get things done. Unfortunately, working with others and building teams can be challenging, for the simple reason that most people tend to like and build rapport with those who are similar to us. Yet in most cases, the best hires we can make and partners we can work with are not just like us. They have complementary skills that support us rather than a skill set that merely duplicates what we already do.

At Boomer Consulting, Inc., we use a variety of Kolbe assessments to help us understand how we get things done both individually and as a team. There are a variety of tools out there, but we obtain particular value from The Kolbe Index. The Kolbe Index doesn’t measure how smart you are or what your personality is like, it measures how you naturally do things. It identifies how you naturally behave when striving to arrive at a solution.

The point is, one problem-solving approach or instinct is not better than another. Different people solve problems differently. Failing to recognize this can be problematic for teams while understanding it helps us construct better teams and ensure that the right people are in the right role for their natural talents.

Here are a few of the Kolbe assessments we use, and how we use them.

Kolbe A Index

The Kolbe A Index measures a person’s conative strengths – actions they take resulting from natural instincts. It identifies an individual’s natural talents, the instinctive method of operation (M.O.) that enables them to be productive.

We use the Kolbe A Index for each of our team members to help them better understand their instinctive strengths. Their supervisor and teammates also consider their instinctive strengths when working with them. We also consider Kolbe when teams are being formed and/or as they are working together toward a common goal. It has also been instrumental in building teams within the firm.

Kolbe RightFit

Kolbe RightFit is a tool used to create a Range of Success for the position for which you are hiring. It helps determine the probability of whether or not a person will be successful in the position. Once the Range of Success is determined, candidates complete the Kolbe A index and are then compared to the Range. Candidates are given a grade based on how well their instincts match. RightFit can also be used to select people who match the methods of proven high-performers or candidates who can fill a critical gap on a team.

Each time we hire, we use the RightFit process. This includes not only full-time team members but also independent contractors. The only time we’ve made a bad hire was when we ignored what the tool was telling us.

Kolbe Comparisons: A to A™

The Kolbe Comparisons: A to A™ compares two Kolbe A results and generate a separate report for each individual. The report provides insight to how similar or different two people’s instincts are. This is really helpful in determining how to work best with someone. What is often confused with a personality difference is actually just a difference in instincts.

The Kolbe Index has been crucial to our growth and development as an organization. With aggressive goals and constant change, our understanding of the Kolbe Index allows us to plan and adapt in a way that would otherwise be impossible. I encourage you to learn more about the Kolbe Index by visiting www.boomer.com/kolbe.

 

The Kolbe A™ Index, Kolbe RightFit™, and Comparisons: A to A™ are the trademarks of Kathy Kolbe and Kolbe Corp. All rights reserved. 

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Drivers of CPA Firm Turnover : Results of Boomer Consulting, Inc.’s 2016 Attrition Survey

Posted By Sandra Wiley, President, Thursday, October 20, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Introduction

One issue at the forefront of every firm leader’s mind right now is attracting and retaining top talent. Hiring and keeping talented staff leads the list of concerns for accounting firms of all sizes except for sole proprietors.

CPA firm employment is expected to continue to grow faster than the average for all industries. While high employment numbers are encouraging, there is also a downside. Professional staff turnover within CPA firms is also at its highest level in a decade, averaging 17.0% last year.

With a desire to help firms overcome turnover woes, Boomer Consulting, Inc. undertook our first ever Attrition Survey. We reached out to employees who left member firms within the last 24 months to get to the heart of why employees are leaving. Here, we present the major findings from that survey as well as actions we believe firms should take to address unwanted attrition.

Click to read more HERE!

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Trends Impacting Flexible Work Arrangements

Posted By Arianna Campbell, Consultant, Monday, October 3, 2016

The AICPA’s 2015 PCPS Issues Survey found that attracting and retaining qualified staff was the number one priority for firms of all sizes except for sole practitioners. Many firms address this priority by instituting flexible work arrangements to reward, engage, and retain employees. Yet many companies still see flex work as an accommodation rather than a business driver. Not convinced? Consider these trends impacting flexible work arrangements.

Generational Changes

In 2015, Millennials surpassed Generation X, becoming the largest share of the American workforce. Millennials are comfortable with digital technology that allows them to work anytime, anywhere and they place a high priority on taking advantage of technology to balance work and personal commitments.

Increase in Average Age of First-Time Mothers

The average age of first-time mothers continues to increase. From 2000 to 2014, the proportion of first births to women aged 30-34 rose 28% (from 16.5% to 21.1%), and first births to women aged 35 and over rose 23% (from 7.4% to 9.1%). Today’s mothers have typically invested a significant amount of time in their careers - and with their firms – by the time they have children. If they are not given the flexibility to successfully manage their personal and professional lives, the loss of their experience and knowledge is a significant blow to the firm and the industry as a whole.

Increase in Paternity Leave

Mothers aren’t the only ones looking for flexible work arrangements. Paid paternity leave is on the rise in Silicon Valley. A 2012 survey found that Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit lead major tech companies in providing 17 weeks of paid paternity leave following the birth or adoption of a child. What starts in Tech is bound to make its way to other industries – including public accounting.

Increase in Dual-Income Households

In 1960, only 25% of married couples in America with children under 18 were in dual-income households. By 2012, that number had grown to 60%. Gone are the days when one spouse supported the family financially and the other handled child care and housework. Now, with both parents working, household and childcare duties are often distributed more evenly, but parents are stressed out and struggling to balance work and family commitments. Flexible work arrangements provide the framework to accommodate the dynamics of dual-income households.

Increase in Caregivers

In addition to working full-time at fast-paced and stressful jobs, more Americans are serving as caregivers for their aging parents. There are 40.4 million unpaid caregivers of adults ages 65 and older in the US, and these are not short-term commitments. The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP’s report Caregiving in the US 2015 found that the average length of time is four years and caregivers spend, on average, 24.4 hours a week providing care. Flexibility is needed to prevent caregivers from having to make the choice of providing care or working.

Increase in Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy in the US reached an all-time high of 78.8 years in 2012. Longer lifespans, improved health, and economic necessity mean many workers who once might have retired at 65 or earlier are less likely to do so today. They may not need or want to work full-time, but can continue to bring their wisdom, experience, and strong work ethic long after “normal” retirement age.

Increase in Diversity

Pew Research Center predicts that by 2055, the US will not have a single racial or ethnic majority. The percentage of foreign-born people in the US has increased from 5% in 1965 to 14% today. A majority of the US population growth will be linked to Asian and Hispanic immigration. Differing cultures and religions mean that employers must accommodate different employee needs for religious and cultural celebrations rather than rely on the traditional public holiday calendar.

Summary

These trends are impacting the workforce in many different demographics, making flexible work arrangements a necessity, not a luxury or reward. This is also not just for the millennials or moms. Flexible work arrangements are a critical consideration for attracting and retaining talent at all levels within the firm. A commitment to flexibility will make firms successful and future ready.

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