What the best firms to work for have in common

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Accounting Today recently published two great lists. The “Best Firms to Work for as Young Professionals” and the “Best Firms to Work for as Women.” So, in an increasingly difficult hiring market, what was it that these firms had in common that made them so attractive, especially to the next generation of young accounting professionals? There were three key factors that seemed to appear as a common thread throughout the firms:

1. They prioritized social equity

In most of the cases of these top firms, there was some type of commitment, effort, or even specific program that allowed for community give back. Team members working at these firms had the opportunity to volunteer together in the community or participate in other types of give back/team building events.

Studies have shown that this type of community ethics is critically important to the next generation so it is no surprise that firms who prioritized this and built it in as part of their culture remained more attractive to the next group of upcoming leaders.

2. Team building time is key

The burnout is real in CPA land. With the constant expectation of heavy workloads, it can be easy to get burnt out and emotionally disconnected from work. Taking the time to make sure the team is connected to each other allows downtime from the workload, but also builds up camaraderie.

Employer survey studies have shown that firms who commit to building their team relationships have up to 59% less turnover than firms who don’t put in the same effort.

3. Work life balance wasn’t a marketing tool

Claiming to have work life balance and then requiring 60-plus hours of billable work a week for busy seasons in both the spring and fall does hardly make a happy employee. We all know CPA firms are busy, but the ones that truly hold on to great candidates are the ones who truly commit to recovery time from the busy seasons.

No one can be under a constant workload pressure and expect that they are going to be happy long term. Firms have to commit to enrichment through flexibility in both work types and time. This could mean helping to develop your team in the areas and industries they’re the most passionate about and helping employees feel supported when they take time off.

The key takeaway here is the “people first” theme. Focusing on what drives your team before what drives your profit will help make sure you have a solid and consistent team to provide services to your clients.

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