In Pursuit of Profit
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High employee turnover can be bad luck, but more often it hints at an underlying problem. That problem may be rushed hiring, a mismatch between the job description and the demands of the role, a poor fit for the role, or inadequate retention incentives.
If you are going through accountants more than every few years, it is time to ask yourself what your company can be doing differently in defining the role, finding the right candidate, supporting the new hire, and retaining an individual in the role.
Defining the Role
Instead of trying to move through the hiring process quickly to get someone new into the role as soon as possible, it is of paramount importance to slow down and look for the right hire, not just the next hire.
If you have hired an accountant recently, you already have a job description, so it may seem needless to write another one. But for each new hire, regardless of when someone was last brought into the role, the job description should reflect the company’s current needs. Frequently business owners will recycle the old job description when an accountant leaves and a replacement must be hired, but this can perpetuate the problem.
If you are experiencing ongoing turnover in a role, starting over with the job description is an essential step. Take what you have learned from previous hires that did not work out and use that to inform the new job listing. Write a thorough job description that clearly defines the role and expectations for the individual to frame the role. Do not simply use a stock accountant job description because this will not address the company’s unique needs and nuances.
If the individual being hired is going to be working remotely, define what that arrangement will look like – will all work be done virtually or is there an expectation that the individual will physically be in the office as well? Determine who will oversee the accountant and what that manager relationship will look like. There is a fine line between micromanaging and giving an accountant too much autonomy, which can compromise internal controls.
As you define the role establish expectations related to daily bookkeeping functions, ongoing reporting, and ad hoc financial requests.
Remember, the term “accountant” has a broad set of meanings across different organizations. Some companies are mainly looking for a more experienced bookkeeper while others are looking more on the controller end of the spectrum. These differences require a frank conversation around expectations for the role and how it will fit into the broader framework of the company to help achieve organizational goals. This starts with a job description and interview process that adequately reflects the role and continues with performance management throughout the employee’s tenure with the company.
Finding the Right Talent Pool
Right now, there is a limited talent pool of accounting professionals available. Not many accounting and finance professionals are unemployed at a non-executive level, which makes hiring into these roles more difficult.
Some companies are turning to temp agencies and bookkeeping services as a temporary solution to get someone in the door to the more robust accounting work that they intended to hire for initially. Unfortunately, these types of hires naturally incline themselves to higher turnover because these people are not incentivized to stay with an engagement for very long. Instead of using this type of hiring model, partner with an accounting recruiting company to hire a professional that has been appropriately vetted and is committed to staying with the company.
Using the right retention techniques is crucial in keeping employees in roles where turnover is prevalent. Like all other employees, accountants want to know that they will have opportunities for career advancement, coupled with incremental salary adjustments that reflect their added worth to the company. However, other types of retention incentives among accounting and finance staff will likely be different.
These kinds of roles tend to be more motivated by recognition and responsibility than just monetary incentives. Giving accountants the tools and authority needed to do their jobs effectively and acknowledging their hard work with meaningful recognition is often the most effective way to build rapport and keep them loyal to their employer. Accountants prioritize opportunities for new learning experiences and job flexibility rather than simply one-off bonuses. This is not to say that salary does not matter (it certainly does!) but retaining an accountant is going to look very different than retaining a sales or marketing representative.
If you need help finding someone that is a great fit for your company, reach out to us. We can help you hire an accountant at any level – staff accountant, senior accountant, or accounting manager.