Head of Professional Recruitment, West Accounting Principals
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3 Tips to Reduce Turnover Post-Tax Season

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The 2020 tax season was a particularly challenging one for accounting firms. Many new initiatives, like PPP loans, provided help small businesses desperately needed but also created new headaches for accountants. Now that the pandemic is winding down, exhausted employees may be looking for jobs elsewhere. Here's how to reduce your turnover rate and keep your team together so you can look to experience post-pandemic growth.

Apr 28th 2021
Head of Professional Recruitment, West Accounting Principals
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Every tax season has its unique challenges that stress and overwhelm tax pros, but after more than a year of remote working during a global pandemic, many have reached their burnout point. Keeping up with changing regulations surrounding initiatives like the Paycheck Protection Program (or PPP loan) took extra time and energy from employees who were likely already stretched thin. Firm leaders, now more than ever, need to focus on employees’ well-being.

For partners and managers, it’s important to think about how to help their employees recuperate after a second pandemic tax season to reduce the rate of employee turnover. After months of staying in their current roles due to economic uncertainty, professionals are now actively searching for new opportunities. Plus, with more firms embracing virtual working, candidates are no longer limited by geography when looking for job opportunities. So how can firm leaders and managers ensure employees feel supported and happy in their current role after a stressful tax season? Here’s some ways of mitigating tax season burnout that can help employees feel less inclined to throw in the towel. 

Review and reset after the busy season. Once the season has officially closed on May 17, consider holding a team meeting to review the firm’s performance, discuss any roadblocks encountered, and identify takeaways for smoother tax seasons in the future. Think of this as a tax season post-mortem. Was the workload manageable, or should additional hires be brought on? Could more efficient technology be implemented? Are there any skills employees would like extra training on? Talking through these questions can provide an outlet for the team to voice suggestions or concernsand can help leaders understand what to improve on for next year. For example, if employees were burdened by handling paperwork and manually inputting data, consider looking into technology that can automate parts of the process to ensure efficient operations for both workers and clients. Employees may be more inclined to stick around if they see that proactive steps are being taken to alleviate stress and streamline operations for next year.

This can also be a great opportunity to give kudos where it is due. Overall, employees want to feel that their input is valued, action is being taken to improve their experience, and that their hard work is recognized. In the whirlwind of tax season, many workers may be feeling underappreciated or taken for granted. Spending time during this team meeting to call out individuals for their specific contributions is a small but impactful way to help boost employee morale.

Be empathetic. For many, the past year has been challenging on professional and personal levels, which has contributed to some talent feeling unmotivated and overwhelmed at their jobs. This issue is often exacerbated by particularly busy periods and workloads. More and more, employees, including in historically traditional professions like accounting, are expecting their leaders to show more empathy and emotional intelligence in the workplace. Feeling emotionally secure at work is a top priority for talent and one that some are willing to switch jobs to find.

Empathetic leadership can be displayed in a number of ways – establishing regular check-ins with your employees, starting off team meetings with a round robin of how everyone is feeling, or just providing more flexibility to anyone who needs it. Understanding and respecting that employees sometimes have personal stressors or obligations outside of the office that may impact their work performance is critical to creating a work environment that employees want to stay in.

Offer perks and benefits. Another way to help employees feel valued is by offering perks and benefits. Financial rewards like salary raises or spot bonuses are always appreciated. If budgets do not allow, though, extra vacation days or even perks as simple as catered meals -- or as social distancing measures continue, e-gift cards for lunch -- are tangible ways to show appreciation for hard working employees. More and more firms are also offering nontraditional benefits, like mental health days and flexible working hours. Adopting these benefits can appeal to current employees and prospective hires alike. While just offering these perks alone won’t always be enough to convince a burned-out employee to stay, they can certainly help boost morale and contribute to a more positive workplace culture.  

Now more than ever, it’s important to prioritize the mental health and wellness of employees, particularly after another exhausting tax season. When tax pros feel they are heard and valued by firm leadership, they are more likely to continue to grow their careers at their current employers rather than exploring other opportunities. Ultimately, that can add up to a stronger firm with reduced turnover and more satisfied employees.

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