3 staffing issues for accountants

Recruiting and retaining great staff is always a challenge. Great staff can be the difference between keeping satisfied clients and losing dissatisfied ones.

In working with our accounting clients, a number of staffing issues keep popping up:

Staff recruitment. Many firms are struggling to identify and attract suitable experienced accountants. In any business, getting good people yields positive results: lower recruitment costs over time, better hiring efficiency and a strengthening of your reputation in the candidate market.

Employee retention. Average employee tenure appears to be falling. To help address that, many of our clients are focusing on a culture that supports the employee growth and development. Other firms are assessing non-salary benefits as part of their retention strategies.

Peak period workloads. Every firm has busy periods. Managing your team’s workload during these times is challenging. The willingness of staff to work extended hours for extended periods is questionable. The potential for work quality to suffer is certain.

In addition to those issues, the skillset necessary to succeed as an accountant in Australia has changed:

  • Clients are looking for value add. As compliance work has become commoditised, client expectations of what value their accountant will provide have changed. Technical competence is a ‘table stake’. Clients are increasingly valuing the ability to apply one’s knowledge and experience to deliver outcomes.
  • Data entry is not value adding. Technological change has made data capture and entry highly commoditised and, in some cases, automated. This type of grunt work is difficult to support in an Australian labour cost environment.
  • Are you an accountant or IT person? To operate effectively within the technology environment, accountants increasingly need effective IT skills. The ease of use of the software has increased. But effectively utilising the imbedded functionality requires detailed knowledge, training and experience.

If your staff is performing low-value add work such as data entry or compliance, their ability to develop and deploy the skills that your clients do value is limited. Limited opportunities for development and growth will likely also impact on your ability to retain those staff.

An offshoring partner can help. They can access a pool of qualified accountants and bookkeepers. They can assist with peaks and troughs in workflow. They can help free up your local staff’s time to focus on developing value-adding skills and assisting clients.

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