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accounting employee firm process turnover

How Accounting Firms Can Streamline the Employee Turnover Process

December 4th, 2018

employees, turnover, process, accounting, firms

For some firms, the threat of losing a client comes second only to the fear of their trusted employees leaving the firm. Apart from the emotional loss of losing employees, attrition can be very expensive for firms. Some of the expenses that a firm has to bear due to attrition is the cost of advertising new vacancies, valuable hours lost before the position is filled again and the training process for a new employee. Most accounting firms today have an average turnover rate of 25 percent. This number might be higher for firms located in smaller cities as a large portion of their workforce tend to migrate to larger cities for work.

So how do you prevent attrition from severely eating into your firm’s profits? Here are the top steps to take immediately for a more efficient employee turnover process.

Take steps towards preventing attrition

The best way to make employee turnover less of a hassle for your company is to prevent it from happening in the first place. To build a strong accounting firm, you need a team of competent, reliable employees that want to build a long-term career with your organisation. Reducing attrition rates begins even before an individual joins your organisation. At the interview stage, it’s crucial that you understand what a candidate’s long-term goals are. This can help you predict how long they are likely to stay in your organisation. For existing employees, building a positive and productive work culture is indispensable to prevent employees from leaving your firm. Recognizing their work, bonding as a team and setting goals as an organisation are some of the ways you can do this.

Keep a record of everything

When employees have been working on the same client or on the same job for a while, they tend to hold a lot of valuable knowledge about it. This could include client-specific information, passwords, processes, etc. Employees rarely think to put it down in a publicly-shared record because they remember it well enough without needing a backup. The problem with this process is when an employee leaves your organisation, they aren’t just leaving their position vacant, but are also taking that valuable knowledge with them. Without them, it can take a lot of time for your firm or the individual replacing them to re-learn every process. Not recording all of this is of the most common pitfalls accounting firms make.

Keeping a shared repository of this kind of information can completely eliminate this challenge. This repository can be shared throughout the organisation, making you less dependant on individual employees.  When an employee leaves, a new person can pick up exactly where they left off without any confusion. If you don’t already operate on the cloud, then this is one more reason why you should start!

Read our blog on 7 Things You Should Know Before Moving to the Cloud to make the transition from paper to the cloud seamless.

Standardise processes across clients and departments

If your employees follow a different process for each client or type of task, it can take a much longer time to a new employee to acclimate themselves. To avoid this, it’s crucial that you implement a standardised process for every client, job and department. If every person on the team knows the procedure for a certain task, you can easily reallocate work between team member if one of them leaves the organisation. When a new individual joins your firm, they only have to learn that one standard process to be able to take on any task in your organisation. Like other types of information, the standardised manual should be available to every member in your firm so they can refer to it and follow it to the T. The standardisation you implement can relate to technology, steps in a process or formats. For example, you can use a single dashboard for all clients and processes. Your employees can also use the same template when preparing reports so there isn’t any period of adjustment required when they need to work on new clients.

Strategically plan an employee’s workload

Every accounting firm’s revenue depends upon the number of billable hours they have delivered. Because of this, the firm’s management naturally tries to maximise the number of potential billable hours every employee has to increase their revenue. However, far from helping your firm generate a profit, this method can actually create major complications for your firm. When you fill every single hour of your employee’s workday with billable work, you are indirectly making the transition more difficult for the individual who might replace them. New employees require an adjustment period to be able to adapt to the firm’s processes and type of work required. If they have to take on such a major workload, they might be unable to cope with the pressure. Additionally, overworking your employees can be a major reason for them choosing to leave your organisation. Adding free time in your employee’s workday, therefore, is crucial to reduce attrition and make the employee onboarding process easier for every involved.

Plan out a new employee’s onboarding period

If you have followed the last three steps, then a new employee’s induction into your firm should already be very smooth. However, there are additional steps you should take to ensure a seamless transition. A more effective onboarding process can make their learning curve steeper, helping them become a productive member of your firm in a much faster period of time. Some of the things you can do to achieve this are:

  • Familiarise new employees with your firm’s team even before they join. This will ensure that on the day of their joining, they will be able to adapt to your firm much faster. You can do this by having your firm’s management, the candidate’s reporting manager and even their team members reach out to them before they officially join.
  • Ensure access to all platforms, software and in-house dashboards are provided on the first day. This can avoid time lost in learning about them or trying to gain access.
  • Allocate the first day for training. It is unrealistic to expect new individuals to hit the ground running. Giving them complete training on the various facets of their job can make their introduction to your organisation a more positive experience.

These steps can help you build a profitable practice through happy and productive employees.

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