Why would anyone want to work at your accounting firm? Why would any of your existing staff members want to stay? Before you think about recruiting new team members, your practice needs to become a workplace that presents obvious answers to both of these questions.
If you can evaluate what benefits you currently provide employees, make some small changes to strengthen this value, and ensure that this is made clear to those inside and outside of your firm, your accounting practice will quickly become a place where the very best talent wants to work at—a destination workplace.
Not only will this make your recruiting process so much easier, but your best existing talent will not want to leave, solving another pain point within the talent lifecycle—increasing retention.
You might expect that employers in the accounting industry care most about timesheets and employees care most about money. While those factors are present, the modern relationship between the parties is much more dynamic.
Your employer brand
Your accounting firm’s employer brand is the identity you create to attract prospective talent. This is how others in the accounting industry see and form an opinion of you.
Your brand encompasses what you stand for, your why, your values, your culture, and your personality.
When we speak to potential new employees, the most common complaint is that they don't feel a connection to the firm or the people they work with. We really try to promote a culture of transparency that allows people to feel that connection and play an important role in the growth of the company.
Ways to improve your employer brand include:
- List the top perks of working at your firm on a What it’s like to work with us page of your website
- Lift the curtain and share what your current team is like by bringing them along to events, showing them on your website and sharing updates on social media
- Monitor your firm's public presence, respond to online reviews from clients, and encourage staff to review you on employer rating websites
- Write and share content that demonstrates who you are and what your firm stands for
- Be active wherever your ideal employees are—whether it is social media, trade shows or industry events
- Increase your firm’s voice in the wider accounting community by contributing to industry publications, forums and events
Tip: refer to page 6 of The Talent Playbook for a worksheet to assist in improving your employer brand.
Your firm’s culture
Culture is not just a word for your team’s happiness, or whether you have a ‘cool’ office with a ping pong table and beer-stocked fridge. Your culture considers why your firm exists—the sum of your shared values, beliefs, objectives and priorities. The things that that guide every aspect of your firm’s activities, team behavior and executive decision-making.
Understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing centers the entire firm and gives them a purpose for where they need to go.
Defining your culture is a critical component of your talent management plan. Not only will it align your team on these core values, but it will be a critical tool in your recruiting decision process because cultural fit must be a consideration with every new hire.
With every new employee you hire, your firm’s culture evolves slightly, so it needs to be revisited as you grow. To assist with this, take the time to define and capture your culture on paper.
Your employer value proposition
Your employer value proposition (EVP) encompasses the offerings and benefits you provide to your employees. It helps to define your brand, differentiates your workplace from other firms, and increases your ability to attract and retain the team you want.
For your staff, it is not about the money. It is about the empowerment. It is about the type of work they get to do. It is about enjoying their days and delivering value.
To define your own EVP, consider your employer brand, culture, and what your ideal members of staff are looking for in their employer. For each of the following employer/employee success drivers, think about what your current staff love most about working with your firm, and what you currently offer that is attractive to potential employees.
- Value alignment
- Including all staff in the ‘big picture’
- Values of management
- Regular performance and feedback
- Career planning and growth opportunities
Secondly, identify any changes you can make or new activities you can implement that will appeal to your employees.
The best relationships are those that enable mutually beneficial outcomes. Documenting, reinforcing and refining your EVP will help you achieve this.
All of this will take time—in fact, it should not ever stop—but the impact of your efforts will be felt almost immediately. When you are a destination workplace, every other aspect of talent management—inlcuding recruiting, retention and even training—becomes easier.
This article is an excerpt from The Talent Playbook. You can download the complete playbook for free here, which includes worksheets and activities to help you recruit, train & retain a world-class team in your accounting firm.