I’ve had three jobs in my public accounting career and though they were at very different firms, the one thing I feared more than anything else was that one of my senior accountants would quit and I’d be left to pick up the pieces.
Why was I so afraid of losing one of my staff? Because so much effort had been invested in training each of my team members on the individual details of every client engagement, the unique processes around those engagements, and how to handle all of the various, delicate client relationships.
Transferring that knowledge is a big task, especially when you’re running a Client Accounting Services (CAS) team, also known as outsourced accounting, in which each employee may be responsible for dozens of engagements. In short, turnover is a huge pain.
And with a looming global talent shortage, expect retention to become a bigger and bigger problem for small and medium sized teams, too. We can do our best to make our employees happy at work, but no matter what we do, the competitive labor market will make turnover inevitable.
Sometimes the best we can do is damage control. In that spirit, here are three ways to minimize the pain of accounting team turnover.
1. Build Slack Into Your Staffing Model
I blame the time sheet and hourly billing for many of the problems in public accounting today. When you view an employee as a bundle of 2,000 or so hours per year, it’s all too easy to load them up with billable hours to the point that they have no free time to do anything but billable work.