Why retention is a top priority for accounting firms right now

June 8th 2022 | Posted by Dave Cross

The accounting industry is currently experiencing a retention crisis.

As a result, accounting firms that are looking to thrive in the market are taking positive action to optimise their retention levels.

The threat of accountants moving on from their current roles is such that work in this area is a top priority for most firms.

Why is retention such an issue?

What has become known as ‘The Great Resignation’ is causing issues across industries in the UK. According to research by PwC, around one fifth of workers are looking to change jobs in the near future.

Accounting is no exception. As professionals move to new roles, in order to progress their career and/or improve their salary level, firms face the prospect of having costly vacancies at a time when they are trying to compete in a highly populated market.

In order to address the significant threat that the situation presents, ambitious firms are taking action to improve retention levels. The starting point for this is evaluating the employment packages that are already in place and making changes to improve the chances of retaining the services of valuable professionals.

Efforts to improve retention are vital

Given the potential negative effects of experienced professionals moving on from a firm, making every effort to retain their services is a vital enterprise.

One of the biggest changes that firms are making is an increase in levels of flexibility. Following the change in working patterns and practices that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, many accounting professionals now expect flexible/hybrid working to be a permanent feature of their working life.

This means firms that adopt flexible practices are more likely to be able to retain the services of their top accounting professionals. This is especially the case given that a good work/life balance is now more important to some professionals than increased remuneration. They regard well-being as an essential aspect of any role.

In addition, the consensus is that professional development plays a pivotal role in determining whether an accounting professional remains in a position. This is particularly the case with younger accounting professionals who have ambitions to expand their skills and knowledge.

As a result, the most progressive accounting firms are analysing their training provision and making any necessary changes to ensure that the professionals who work for them feel as though they have the development opportunities they need.

If professionals feel this way, they are more likely to remain in their current role rather than look to move on.

Accounting firms cannot afford to be complacent about the threat of the ‘The Great Resignation.’ It could potentially lead to them losing valuable professionals to competitors. This makes it essential for firms to re-evaluate their retention policies.

Vital factors to consider, aside from a fair pay structure, are flexibility and training/development opportunities. Firms are unlikely to be able to retain top talent without developing a package that addresses all aspects of an individual’s career rather than simply concentrating on financial concerns.

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