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Image from the AccountingWEB editorial special report

Talent retention: Put culture at the heart


Sophie Parkhouse, a partner at Albert Goodman LLP, says ensuring the firm’s core values are incorporated into every aspect of the business has been key to retention success.

8th Aug 2023
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As the skills gap widens in the accounting profession and firms continue to compete for top talent, attracting skilled professionals is just the beginning. Retention has become a critical aspect of building a winning team, especially as rival firms seek to lure away top performers with enticing opportunities.

However, effective retention planning must go beyond offering perks like beer on Fridays and foosball in the break room. Today’s up-and-coming accountants seek tangible benefits from their employers, with corporate culture and values ranking high on their list of priorities when considering job opportunities.

Communal values

Sophie Parkhouse, a partner at Albert Goodman LLP and training expert, emphasised the importance of communal values in retaining a strong team. For Parkhouse, understanding the firm’s core values and ensuring that they are incorporated into every aspect of the business has been instrumental in achieving retention success.

Parkhouse said: “One of the things I’m proudest of is our culture and our values. And that’s genuinely been put together by absolutely everybody in the business. We refreshed our company’s purpose and values a year ago, and we’ve been changing all of our processes to make sure that they’re not just something on the periphery.”

To increase retention rates, Parkhouse believes that it is crucial to involve the team in the creation and implementation of positive company values. She explained: “When we refreshed [our values], we went to everyone across the business and asked them, ‘What are a few things that you like about our culture at the moment? What are a few things that you would like to see in the future?’ We got everybody’s feedback, so everybody’s view was taken into consideration.

“We also make sure that it’s not just talked about at the beginning when people integrate into the business, but also in ongoing performance reviews. We always reflect on the team-made values and always like to see how people are delivering on those.”

Supportive environment

However, this focus on culture and values has gone further than simply involving employees in the company’s mission, Parkhouse noted, adding that support and guidance through significant wellbeing services was paramount in ensuring that the team remained intact.

Highlighting the pandemic as a prime example of an event that everyone, especially young people starting their careers, struggled through, Parkhouse was keen to emphasise the key role businesses play in supporting staff wellbeing.


“I think we’re all a product of the experiences that we’ve had throughout our life, which is why it’s so important to offer the right level of support for your team members, whether that’s those coming into the business at the beginning stages of their career or more senior employees,” Parkhouse explained. 

“Because of this we have a strong wellbeing provision, which is trained across all of our offices, and we also have six monthly check-ins with all of our trainees on top of their performance and development discussions, just to check that everything’s going how they would expect with their training.”

Parkhouse finished by saying: “We really pride ourselves on offering a strong, supportive environment to our employees.”

This article is an extract from our new editorial special report:“Alternative guide to solving your skills crunch”. Download the free guide to discover practical strategies and real-life examples for recruitment, retention and using outsourcing and automation as alternative solutions.

Replies (5)

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By possep
08th Aug 2023 13:48

Don't expect many responses to that.

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By Leyton
08th Aug 2023 14:34


In the last three years, my colleagues and I have seen our salaries increase by 6%. Charge out rates have increased by 30% in that same period.

That's the reason most of us intend to move on in the very short term. It's nothing to do with the qualitative aspects.

The salaries our employer advertises to prospective candidates, to replace the staff lost, far exceed those paid to us currently doing the job. None of the employee prospects are actually offered positions, because they're useless.

Retention of staff is a funny old business. Perhaps we're not 'up-and-coming' enough to be retained. Just seems like a downward spiral for the employer to me.

Thanks (4)
By Kaylee100
08th Aug 2023 16:15

In the current and impending COL crisis, don't lose sight of how pay will impact choices for some individuals. However great an employer, if the wolf is at the door and more £££ are offered elsewhere, employees in that position are likely to look to move - especially if its made easy for them by being poked on social media.

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paddle steamer
08th Aug 2023 17:22

I think the catchphrase from Jerry Maguire is what really retains staff, "Show me the money"

Whilst staff do not usually move for an extra few hundred, there is an inertia, a feeling of been overlooked and not well treated can build up, develops its momentum, and once the staff member has discontent at X level they seriously look elsewhere. By this juncture the incumbent employer has really two hopes:

1. The market does not offer much more than current reward, or no job offers, employee comes to appreciate this, settles back.

2. Incumbent employer senses disquiet and offers s more cash to retain early enough, or maybe in some cases new types of work that appeal to the individual.

Barring these imho once employee seriously starts thinking of a move/alternative he/she is likely really already gone (look at Neymar)

Thanks (3)
By Caitlinsharpe
29th Aug 2023 11:17

Thanks for the information.

Thanks (0)