In Pursuit of Profit
Read our expert article below or sign up to get articles sent to your inbox.
While outsourcing overseas used to just be a cost-saving measure, many accounting firms are now facing labor shortages that are forcing them to take this step out of necessity, not of their own choosing. The Washington Post declared that “The remote revolution could lead to offshoring Armageddon” and though that is likely an exaggeration, it demonstrates how desperate many employers are these days to find personnel to do the work that needs to get done.
CPA firms, large employers, and companies with complicated ongoing financial needs are in a pinch. They need skilled employees to do the work that keeps their businesses running but with a dearth of qualified candidates available, their options are limited. However, offshoring is not the only solution! It is often a far better option to upskill your existing employees to assist with this work than to send it overseas.
Find out how to upskill your bookkeeping and accounting employees to avoid the constraints of hiring additional professional staff:
Understand your Goals
Before upskilling your employees, understand what you want to get out of the process. Are you helping staff add to their skillset as a temporary solution while you continue to look for full-time hires? Or are you planning on moving staff up the ladder to fill more senior positions indefinitely? Your answer will determine how you approach the process. If you are only looking for a band aid solution, you will only need to invest enough in employees to get them proficient at the most basic level. However, if you are looking to grow an employee into a long-term fill for an open role, you will need to provide them with far more resources and support along the way. If you cannot provide this internally, you may need to look externally for the kind of accounting services that can assist with this kind of support.
Additionally, you will need to look at the work itself to ensure that it matches with your overall goals. For instance, upskilling a bookkeeping to cover additional reporting deliverables while an accountant is hired is a feasible ask. However, a bookkeeper will not be able to be upskilled to oversee the entire financial close process while you search for a Controller because that kind of senior-level responsibility is simply way above their pay grade and will take many years of steadily increasing experience to prepare them for that kind of job function.
Once you understand what you hope to accomplish by upskilling your bookkeeping and accounting staff, it is time to identify areas where increased skills can reduce the company’s hiring needs.
Every company is different when it comes to dividing up financial duties and following financial processes. A great opportunity for upskilling staff is pairing them with their colleagues in more senior roles to show them the ropes. Since many accounting functions are repetitive in nature, using your existing staff to train their more junior counterparts can be an incredibly effective way to pull people up, adding to their skillsets and improving redundancy in the event of a staff departure.
However, “upskilling” does not simply include learning more advanced accounting functions, it also refers to any sort of skill additions. This is easy to forget because more entry-level bookkeeping and accounting staff is ripe for the teaching, but they are not the only ones able to be upskilled. No one knows everything, which means that any chance someone has to learn something new is a chance to be upskilled in that area. (Contrary to popular belief, you can “teach an old dog new tricks” after all.) More senior-level staff can also be taught how to do work that is adjacent to their existing roles to help cover business needs, especially in the area of technology usage.
Technology may be transforming the accounting industry, but in some companies, the accounting staff doing the day-to-day accounting work are the only ones interacting with the technology in a meaningful way. Senior accounting managers, Controllers, and CFOs may simply be looking at dashboards and prepared reports for their cash flow management, financial analyses, forecasting, and other more advanced job functions. Increasing technological prowess is a one of the best ways for accounting staff at all levels to increase their skillsets. Remember that technology is a tool, which means it is only as valuable as the person using it allows it to be. (Think of the old adage, “A hammer doesn’t build a house – a carpenter does.”) Upskill your accounting staff by increasing their technological proficiency, especially with the accounting platforms your company relies on most heavily.
As other professional development opportunities arise, support your employees with access to these resources to improve your accounting department. Encourage all staff to stay on top of relevant laws, regulations, market trends, and industry topics to keep them informed about the work they are doing or overseeing.
Communicate the Benefits
Upskilling your staff is a great way to avoid the constraints of today’s hiring market (or at least delay your hiring needs until the job market is not as tight), but upskilling does not just benefit employers. Upskilling also provides significant benefits to employees, which in turn contributes to the company’s bottom line.
When a company chooses to teach employees and support their growth, they are signaling to the employee that they are valuable to the organization. This acknowledgement and recognition makes an employee feel appreciated, adding to their joy at work, which allows them to do better work and increases the likelihood that they will remain with the company. The result is a positive cycle of improvement where individual gains result in organizational gains, snowballing into increased benefits for both parties.
With all the talk of ongoing pay raises these days, employers are likely going to need to pay employees more over the next few years no matter what else they do. So, if you can entrust them with more responsibilities in the process, increased salaries become more of an investment than just a rising cost.
At companies with smaller accounting departments there may be limited opportunities for accountants to learn from their peers and get exposure to additional technology to broaden their skillsets. In these instances, a consulting accountant can be brought in to improve processes and help implement new tools to upskill existing staff. An experienced external accountant can provide new perspective about what the rest of the industry is doing to inform and educate internal accounting staff without making their roles feel threatened in the way that a new hire conveying the same information might.
When you need accounting help, please reach out to us! We offer ongoing, project-based, and interim accounting services to companies of all sizes. If you need a full-time hire, we also provide accounting recruiting services to help you find an accountant with the skillset needed to thrive in your role. Contact us today for more information!