The Great Resignation has been a hot topic of discussion in firms around the country. People are leaving their current jobs — not just for other firms, but for other careers.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a short-term problem. Many of the talent issues we’ve been dealing with for years will continue, and new ones will come up as people decide to work differently. So it’s more important than ever to focus on increasing our ability to get work done with limited resources.
Right now, your firm is likely feeling those limits acutely. Talent is more limited than it has been in the past, and the problem will likely worsen before it gets better. Enrollment in accounting programs is down, many accounting majors aren’t pursuing CPA licenses, and employees across the board are burnt out.
For these reasons, it’s more important than ever to look for ways to serve our talent better and help them complete tasks and achieve their goals without piling on more stress. Here are five ways to do just that.
Spending hours every day or week on manual, repetitive tasks is demotivating for talented professionals. These tasks should be handled by technology.
When you leverage technology to automate these processes, tasks that used to take up the bulk of your days can be handled in minutes. You can ignore the possibilities and watch your competitors steal clients, hire away your talent and surpass you. Or you can embrace these tools, viewing them as an essential partner that eliminates some of the day-to-day monotony and frees up people to work where their unique human abilities are needed.
Outsourcing — whether via traditional offshoring of tax preparation or hiring freelancers — allows your people to work at their best and highest use. And it’s not just for large firms with big budgets. Supporting your team with outsourced services makes sense for firms of all sizes.
The key to being successful with outsourcing is to commit. Deciding you’re going to outsource a handful of returns or a small amount of marketing or IT tasks and projects typically isn’t worth the time and effort. But when you commit to outsourcing hundreds of tax returns or all content marketing efforts for your firm, you’ll see real results. Those results will give you the confidence to continue.
Both automation and outsourcing depend on having standardized and efficient processes. It’s tough to automate or outsource a task when there are 18 different ways to do it, and bottlenecks can drag down even the top performers.
When you improve your firm’s processes — for traditional engagements like tax and audit as well as billing, client and employee onboarding and advisory work — your people will have more capacity to take on higher-level work.
Delegating work is another way to help people perform at their highest and best level, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. You need to train your people to give responsibility and authority.
Delegation should also help the person you’re delegating to grow. We call this “win-win delegation,” and it follows an eight-step process:
Stop doing the work yourself
Select the project you want to delegate and the person you want to delegate to
Sell it and gain buy-in
Show them how to do it
Watch and coach them as they do it
Let it go
Follow up and provide feedback
Reward and celebrate
One major source of employee burnout is working with clients who aren’t aligned with the firm’s growth goals. For example, if you’re telling your team you want to grow the firm and become more advisory, but you’re continuing to work on small individual tax returns with no related business, people feel like they aren’t helping the firm achieve its strategic plan.
Determine your ideal client and the criteria your firm will use for client filtering. Then start saying no to new clients and referring existing clients elsewhere if they don’t fit the mold. This will involve some tough decisions, but the result will be happier employees and a more profitable firm. Check out our Guide to Client Filtering if you need help in this area.
We often think of our capacity to get work done — both individually and as a firm — as fixed. We tell ourselves there are only so many hours in the day. While that’s true, time isn’t the only capacity limiting our ability to accomplish our goals. In the past, you may have avoided automation, outsourcing, process improvement, delegation and client filtering because you had enough internal team members to handle the workload. But the realities of hiring and retention are putting more pressure on people to try strategies they should have already been doing.
To maintain a competitive advantage, you have to figure out this stuff out. So don’t just choose one or two of these strategies. Build a strategy that includes all five, and you’ll be able to take your firm to a much higher level.
Is your firm ready to stop wasting time on inconsistent and bloated processes?
Boomer Process Consulting can help you create a lasting process improvement strategy that frees up the capacity to deliver higher-value services to your clients. Schedule a discovery call today to start seeing real results.
As Shareholder and Consultant for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Arianna Campbell helps accounting firms challenge the status quo by leading process improvement initiatives that result in increased profitability and client satisfaction. She also facilitates the development and cultivation of future firm leaders in The P3 Leadership Academy™ Academy. Internally, she blends concepts from Lean Six Sigma and leadership development to drive innovation and continuous improvement within the company. Arianna also enjoys the opportunity to share knowledge through regular contributions to the Boomer Bulletin and other industry-wide publications, as well as public speaking at industry conferences.