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Results Only Work Environment in accountancy?

looking for advice from any practices operating a ROWE - Results Only Work Environment

We run a small accountancy practice and are looking to introduce a Results Only Work Enviroment (ROWE) early next year where the team are measured on their output not their presence. Do you know any firms that already do this and any advice on implementation, things that worked/didn't work in the ROWE and what sor of measures you used to track results.

 

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By marks
14th Aug 2018 22:05

Greenstones in Peterborough do this.

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By DJKL
14th Aug 2018 22:45

Quality control processes re file review are key, if you try this without strong controls then with some staff you will start having rubbish churned out just so that they earn more.

Having also worked in an environment where bonus payments were driven by fees you really need to be sure that you do not build resentment by dumping the trickier work just on the more experienced staff who then end up with lower output per hour (Especially when fee levels are not correct), you also have to consider how you are measuring/rewarding supervisory input when they are reviewing/correcting/ guiding the work of more junior/less experienced staff.

My own experience is I got a lot of the trickier stuff, solicitors, insurance brokers, travel agents and the junior staff got the more bread and butter retail/pubs/hairdressers/taxi drivers etc.

It was also galling if then your time input re these (reviewing where they have got to re the work etc) was somehow not recognised in the rewards.

I ended up as a manager running my own caseload plus supervising others and dealing with office admin yet my bonus payments were calculated solely on the work I did on my client work, one of the reasons (apart from my working daft hours to deal with everything) that I took my current position and left full time professional practice.

Get this wrong and you could lose your more experienced staff.

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By Maslins
15th Aug 2018 09:38

I personally feel the work in accountancy is too varied/complicated for this to work well.

If you just have a very basic method of deciding what output is counted, you could quickly find lots of critical tasks get missed out, with everyone only wanting to do the measured tasks.

As you try to make it more complicated, the clever staff will spend time/brainpower thinking how they can get the best outcome for themselves, rather than focusing on what's best for the firm.

If hypothetically you could get a measurement system that perfectly aligned individual rewards with what's best for the business, great. However, I don't believe this is possible.

I think whilst just paying staff by the hour has its flaws (we all have some staff who we innately know are more productive than others), I personally don't think the alternatives are viable.

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15th Aug 2018 09:57

Do 'results' include things like customer retention, % of work to high quality, cpd maintained? Or just easy to measure stuff like # of files closed in month?

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to WhichTyler
15th Aug 2018 10:07

'results' would include measures for those sort of things; I'm think 3 to 4 key measures (targets) for each team member and a few measures for the firm as a whole

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to WhichTyler
15th Aug 2018 10:07

'results' would include measures for those sort of things; I'm think 3 to 4 key measures (targets) for each team member and a few measures for the firm as a whole

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By DJKL
15th Aug 2018 10:17

Key also is why, what are you trying to achieve, is it motivation of the staff to work harder /increase output etc?

I would be slightly concerned taking this down to the individual level in a small firm, I suspect I would more likely favour rewarding the unit (Manager/Seniors/Juniors) as a collective rather than the individual.

One way to reward the whole is of course to allocate a percentage of firm profits to bonuses, paid out in a pre agreed ratio amongst the collective unit/firm.

I once worked as an outsourced party on a piecework basis for a firm, I invoiced them a third of the overall firm fee, but I was a former member of staff, the firm knew me and trusted the standard of my work and it sort of worked (until it got to the point where it was cheaper for them just to employ me on a salary), the firm had another arrangement with another party where as time went on the work quality started going out the window, the party started playing the system for his fees.

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15th Aug 2018 10:56

Not sure this will work. As a small firm one of the benefits is that you should know who works and who shirks. Who is a star, who is a plodder and who you would be better off without and pay accordingly.

The danger is that no matter how carefully you try to align the key measures between individual and firm, there will be elements of unfairness. It would also create a rather divisive and inflexible culture where experienced staff would be reluctant to spend time on anything that did not count towards their scoring, even if it benefited the firm.

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15th Aug 2018 11:07

You will find a lot of staff wont like it, they will want a steady income for steady work. Those types of employees are as key as the high fliers who will be motivated by this type of step up.

The real danger however is that you end up as a "churn" outfit. I could do my work in 25% of the time by giving much less of a stuff about my clients, but I would then be hemorrhaging them.

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to ireallyshouldknowthisbut
15th Aug 2018 11:42

Another real danger is that a lot of the 'non scoring' stuff that your team currently do will land squarely on your desk!

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