It’s easy for me to sit on this side of the page and provide you with insights on how to hire and retain staff in your practice. You may look to the hire the best people like Steve Jobs or you may look for integrity, intelligence, and energy like Warren Buffet. Whatever approach you choose to take, I’m sure it is what you are comfortable with and best fits your practice.
I’m sure you are all in different stages of business. While most firms are maintaining, some are growing, and others have one foot out the door. You may be looking for that senior accountant, young tax preparer, or simply someone to help you manage the administrative side to the business. However, I can almost guarantee that in this day and age, finding the so-called “right” person to fill the void in your firm, is comparable to that to finding a unicorn.
I work with firms just like yours in my day job that are all searching for that unicorn. If you could wave a magic wand and wish one thing into your practice, what would it be? Most of the time when I ask practitioners this question, the simple response is someone who could take some of the workload off of them. Who would have thought that on top of owning and operating a successful tax and accounting practice, that hiring and retaining staff would be such a daunting task?
Unless you have the special unicorn bait, please follow along in my next three recommendations.
- Conduct a formal assessment of your firm’s tech-stack.
- Review remote work policies and procedures.
- Assess the current state of your practice.
Conduct a formal assessment of your firm’s tech-stack:
Technology is a key player in managing a successful practice, today and moving forward. I want you to ask yourself, is my technology working for me or against me? I typically see two outcomes after walking through this evaluation with small to mid size practices. 1) The firm identifies key areas for process improvement, adapts new technology, and drastically reduces their workload and time spent on task that could be automated. Sometimes a small investment in technology can save double the amount of a salaried employee. 2) The firm identifies their technology does not appeal to the candidate they are attempting to hire or the technology cannot adapt to a remote work environment.
Review remote work policies and procedures:
Depending on the age of a practice, remote work is sometimes frowned upon. However, the firms who thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic had already adapted to a cloud or remote business model prior to the pandemic. It’s hard for a firm to let go of the in-office management style of information and employees, but the way I see it, you don’t have much choice. Why would a parent of 3 children want to add an hour of commute time to their day, when they can work from home and then invest that time back into their family? To be competitive in attracting and retaining talent, you must have a remote work policy available to your employees. Think about it, you go from posting a job ad in your local zip code to posting a job ad throughout the United States and beyond.
Assess the current state of your practice:
At some point in this process, you have to ask yourself and others, is my business a place that excites us to come to work? If your firm is hiring for a 65–80-hour week during tax season, but the competitor down the block is offering a 40-hour week year-round, who do you think is going to attract the talent? Take a look at your client base, are you working with individuals who take up your time and are not worth it in terms of revenue? Cut them loose. What steps can you take to make sure the work you are doing is meaningful and satisfying to both you and your employees? Build a better practice today to start forming a better future tomorrow.
I leave you with a quote from Simon Sinek, author and inspirational speaker, “You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.” Give your employees a place to grow and develop in their passions, be the mentor they are searching for, and trust in their knowledge. When you stop looking for unicorns, they will end up finding you.