Small accountancy firm owners often complain that their biggest barrier to growth is finding and keeping the right staff. This is probably the biggest challenge facing the industry as a whole. In this article, we explore how you can play to your strengths and attract the right team members to come and join your small accountancy firm.
When you are a small tiny accountancy firm it often seems like you can’t compete with the bigger firms who have the muscle to pay the larger salaries. However, when you as a firm play to your strengths, you not only have the opportunity to attract in good staff, but keep and grow them. Here are the ways we’ve seen other small accountancy firms attract and keep good staff.
Grow a strong local profile
Let’s be honest your practice is never quite going to have the same brand or reputation as Apple or a Big 4 firm. However, not everyone wants to work for a massive corporation-like practice. Plus, do you want to attract staff who want to work for the largest accountancy firms? Our clients who have a strong local profile often find that staff come to them not the other way around. Winning awards and gaining a consistent level of PR in the local media is a great way to attract in highly talented staff who want to work for you. We’ve been able to generate a lot of profile from being shortlisted for the Independent Firm of the Year for the last two years running.
Be authentic and unstuffy
The more traditional practices often have a rule that staff are not allowed to listen to music via their headphones while they work. (Seriously!) Given how much distraction there is in the typical accountancy office, listening to music via headphones while you work can be great way to focus and increase your productivity. Nurturing an office environment where you ditch rules for rules’ sake, e.g. “you must wear a suit and tie into the office”, and create a great environment to work in, is a great way to attract in great staff.
Pay your staff an introducers fee for a successful hire
Your staff are probably your best source of potential new employees. So, if a staff member introduces to the firm a new employee, why not pay them a percentage of the fee you would have paid a recruiter?
Introduce flexible working
If you can run your practice without relying on employees who want to work full time during normal office hours, you will attract a much broader talent pool to your firm. There is a huge talent pool of people, for many different reasons, who don’t want to work normal office hours, 5 days a week from the office.
Given the advances in technology, can you play to your strengths and build up a workforce who want to put their work hours around their other responsibilities in life. Could you offer part time working, early starts, late finishes or the ability to work from home some of the week? Very often the top 100 firms struggle to give their staff this flexibility. Small firms really can compete with the larger firms by offering their staff flexible working and non-standard working hours.
Tailor your staff perks
There are all sorts of ways that you can make your staff benefits that little bit more meaningful. For example, can you provide fresh fruit for the office? Office drinks on a Friday? Can you take your staff to Xerocon or QB Connect? Can you offer staff exercise classes in the firm’s boardroom at lunch times?
If you can’t afford to match the going rate for the position, think laterally about how you can make the role more desirable
When you are competing for the same staff as the bigger firms in your area, you are unlikely to be able to match the salaries they can offer their staff. But what you can do is provide a nicer work environment and firm culture. How can you be creative with your staff perks, working hours or working environment? For example, could you allow your staff to bring their dog to the office with them?
Be proactive with your recruitment
You never know when you are going to need your next new member of staff. If you are always thinking one to two hires ahead of what you need, you can hire early if a good opportunity presents itself. This means doing things like:
- Have a careers section on your website
- Use LinkedIn to start to build a relationship with potential employees
- Build connections with the local training colleges
- Offer internships or work experience to students from your local schools or colleges
Make your firm seem like an exciting place to work
Accountancy and exciting are not normally two words that people normally don’t put together! However, employees are attracted to firms with a strong vision and purpose. Particularly if they can play an important part in helping to grow a successful firm. So, be proud about your growth ambitions and let staff know how they will help the firm achieve its vision.
Attracting in the right team members is all creating a great place to work in a way which the larger firms just can’t match. Then remember to always be on the lookout for good new members of staff.
About Arun Ravindranathan
Arun completed his training as a Chartered Accountant in India in 2001 and has since been based in the UK. In 2005 he completed his ACMA and achieved an MBA (London school) in 2007, specialising in Strategic Management harnessing his academic skills to head up the operational side of the business and also to market the benefits of outsourcing internationally.
Arun is the brains, brawn and inspiration for the growth of GI. He has taken GI from just a handful of employees through to a 150+ company servicing clients from all around the world. He is responsible for the strategic direction of the firm as well as managing the firm’s large accounts.
Arun is well placed to talk to accountants about their day-to-day operational issues and also to be a useful resource for planning a long-term business strategy incorporating outsourcing. He firmly believes that integrating the potential of outsourcing will bring tangible benefits to his clients.