Between April 2021 and April 2022, 71.6 million people quit their jobs. A movement infamously labeled “The Great Resignation,” it was a historic period that marked the start of unprecedented hiring and retention challenges. Even accounting — a domain traditionally deemed stable — has not been immune to these workforce challenges.
With rising shortages in CPAs and specialized accounting skills, retaining your existing workforce is more important than ever. With that in mind, below are ten actionable strategies that you can use to retain your accounting staff and build a motivated, loyal finance and accounting team in the wake of the Great Resignation.
1. Automate Labor-Intensive Tasks
Modern accounting technology is laden with tools and software designed to automate tasks, making all of your core processes more efficient. By automating manual tasks like accounts payable (AP), accounts receivable (AR), and general ledger (GL) entries, along with reconciliations, you can significantly reduce burnout. Such automation not only streamlines work but also gives your team the chance to focus on strategic, value-adding activities.
2. Invest in Training on AI and Modern Tools
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has profound implications for accounting. You can train your staff on using AI for such tasks as:
- Predictive Analysis: Leveraging AI to anticipate financial trends and provide insights for decision-making will give your team a competitive edge
- Fraud Detection: Using AI algorithms to identify irregularities and potentially fraudulent activities will insulate your business from risk
- Data Entry: Incorporating AI-driven tools to automatically categorize and enter data, reducing manual effort and saving your team time
Incorporating AI not only amplifies these tasks’ efficiency but also enriches the job roles of your staff members, making them more fulfilling and engaging.
3. Cultivate a Culture of Continuous Learning
The accounting field is ever-evolving, so offering your team opportunities for continuous learning — be it through certifications, workshops, or courses — can work to boost morale and job satisfaction. When staff members see a clear path of growth and development, they are more likely to remain committed to your organization.
4. Provide Competitive Compensation and Benefits
While non-material aspects of a job are vital, compensation must remain a crucial factor in retention. Ensure that your compensation packages are competitive, reflecting both the industry standard and the unique value each employee brings, and also offer comprehensive benefits that address health and well-being.
5. Foster a Collaborative Environment
A positive, collaborative work environment plays a significant role in retention. Encourage your team to communicate, collaborate, and enjoy working together toward shared goals. When employees feel appreciated and valued, their allegiance to the organization and chemistry with one another grows.
6. Offer Flexibility
Businesses clamored to go remote in the midst of the pandemic, and though the initial heights of the pandemic may be in the rearview mirror, remote work is here to stay. As such, you need to offer flexible work accommodations, whether they be remote or hybrid options, compressed workweeks, or variable hours, in order to retain top talent.
7. Recognize and Reward
Regular recognition can work wonders for morale. Recognize milestones and achievements to let your team know that you appreciate all their hard work. Such recognition can take many forms, including bonuses, promotions, public praise, or even a thank-you email.
8. Promote Work-Life Balance
Burnout is a leading factor behind resignations, but you can work to mitigate the risks of burnout in the following ways:
- Promote a genuine work-life balance
- Ensure that employees don’t consistently work beyond standard hours
- Encourage breaks and vacations
By promoting a better work-life balance, you can enhance your team’s well-being and job satisfaction, and happier, healthier employees will prove far more valuable to your organization.
9. Encourage Mentorship Programs
A mentorship program in which experienced staff members guide and support your newer team members can foster a sense of belonging and purpose. Such programs not only facilitate skill transfer but also build great chemistry within your team.
As you develop a mentorship program, use a volunteer system to ensure that your senior staff members do not develop a sense of animosity toward new hires. Choose mentors who are excited about sharing their knowledge, as they can nurture less-seasoned employees and transform them into valuable team members.
10. Open Channels for Feedback
Establish open channels where employees can voice their concerns, feedback, and suggestions. There are several ways to gather feedback from your team, including regular one-on-ones, anonymous surveys, and feedback platforms.
Regardless of the method you use, let your staff know that their opinions are welcome and valuable. When you make it easy for your team to deliver feedback, it becomes easier to identify and resolve issues that are impacting chemistry and morale.
Transitioning Into the Great Retention
Retaining accounting staff in today’s dynamic workforce landscape requires a holistic approach, blending modern tools with traditional people-centric strategies. As your organization transitions from the challenges of the “Great Resignation” to the proactive phase of the “Great Retention,” the strategies above will help you create and maintain a dedicated, thriving financial team.
For more check out our 2023 Corporate Finance & Accounting Talent Study. In this year’s study, Controllers Council researchers thoroughly explored how your CFO and Controller peers are dealing with ongoing talent challenges, including retention and recruitment.