Archive for the ‘Talent’ Category

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Give Them A Weekend!

“I’m not driven by killer ambition. I’m not a workaholic. I’m a good team player. I don’t have to be captain, but I do want to play on a winning team.” – Jane Pauley

FullSizeRenderAs March 15th nears, every year, I think of all the people I know working inside growing, successful accounting firms.

They have been working tirelessly beginning more slowly in January picking up speed (and extra hours) throughout February and putting renewed effort leading up to the March 15th due date.

CPA firm leaders, please consider giving your entire staff a real weekend on March 18 and 19 – the first weekend after the March 15th due date.

We did this at my firm for years and it was greatly anticipated and appreciated by our people.

Now, the good news is that many accounting firms have eliminated Saturday work during tax season completely (except for those die-hard partners that always work weekends).

Your team will come back to work on Monday morning with renewed vigor to focus on the tasks ahead, leading up to April 18. Their families will also be very happy.

  • There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.
  • Aristotle

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Georgia Society of CPAs – March Madness

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“The key is not the will to win, everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” – Bob Knight

Many thanks to the Georgia Society for featuring my article, Lessons Learned: Two Kinds of March Madness, in March/April 2017 issue of their magazine, Current Accounts.

I hope all of you who are members of the Georgia Society will read the magazine or access it online.

If you are a non-member, I will be using the article in my upcoming newsletter. You can subscribe here.

Hint: There is the AFMM March Madness and there is the NCAA March Madness. Of course, AFMM stands for Accounting Firm March Madness.

  • Once you are labeled - the best - you want to stay up there, and you can't do it by loafing around. If I don't keep changing, I'm history.
  • Larry Bird

Friday, February 24th, 2017

Be Sure to Give Your Employees C.R.A.P.

Kortes“From caring comes courage.” – Lao Tzu

It’s not what you think! This method comes from Jeff Kortes. He is an employee retention speaker, author and expert. Kortes has found that employers don’t give their employees enough C.R.A.P. and it is driving away valuable workers. Here’s the CRAP he’s talking about:

C – Caring

R – Respect

A – Appreciation

P – Praise

I became aware of Kortes this week, visited his blog site and thoroughly enjoyed his posts.

I know that in public accounting you are certainly challenged with attracting, developing and retaining people. Perhaps, the first thing you should do is develop a written employee retention strategic plan. Learn more about it, from Kortes here.

  • Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness.
  • Harold Kushner

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Signing Bonus

“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” – Henry David Thoreau

I often get questions about whether firms are offering signing-bonuses to new college graduates. The answer is, yes.

Signing bonuses were a big deal in the early 2000’s, then in 2008 and for a few years afterwards, the signing bonus was actually not needed and many firms discontinued the practice.

As you can imagine with the intense competition for talent, firms have returned to the practice of signing bonuses. I have observed that they usually run from $1,000 to $3,000.

Often, they are an enticement for a quick response to an offer. If you really have an all-star intern, I would think you would pay more than $3,000.

  • Take free money. No matter how in debt you are, if your employer offers a matching contribution on a 401(k) or other retirement vehicle, you must sign up and contribute enough to get the maximum company match each year. Think of it as a bonus.
  • Suze Orman

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Show Appreciation by Utilizing Stay Interviews

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving forward.” – Albert Einstein

Some accounting firms have been utilizing stay interviews for a while. However, I have observed that there are still many firms that haven’t embraced this excellent tool.

Anytime you devote individualized attention to one of your team members, asking them for advice and feedback, it’s a positive exercise for both sides – management and staff.

Elizabeth (Bitsy) Watson, PHR, the HR Manager for Mahoney, Ulbrich, Christiansen & Russ shared the process they use for stay interviews. It would be a good best practice for you to emulate. Her comments follow:

BitsyWe started out with results from our recent engagement survey and identified about five areas where we wanted more insight, such as, if we felt our scores for recognition could be stronger or we wanted more insights into what aspects of compensation were most important to staff.

We then came up with some questions related to these areas and others (about 10 total). A few examples were:

  • What types of recognition are most meaningful to you?
  • What opportunities for development would you like that you may not be getting?
  • What type of work do you find most motivating or interesting?
  • Of the compensation and benefits we offer, what aspects are most important to you and what could be improved in this area?

We used a representative sample of our employees to participate in the stay interviews. I kept the names confidential. After the meetings were completed, our next steps were to summarize the overall themes and share the summary with the partners, not sharing names. I also included three recommendations for changes or new programs to implement. We’ll then share these new initiatives with the interview group. We want them to know that we really valued their opinions.

I tried to be as transparent as possible with everyone involved on what we were trying to accomplish and how valuable their feedback is. We received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from the interviewees. They mentioned feeling like it was helpful to have a channel to be asked questions they might never have been asked. I think the most interesting thing that came from this was bringing to light some wrong assumptions we, as management, had been making.

Our plan is to do this annually utilizing a different group of employees each year.

  • Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
  • Thomas Edison

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

How Visible Is Your Firm On Campus?

“A baby has brains, but it doesn’t know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.” – L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I hope you have read Rosenberg’s recent post about accounting interns‘ lack of knowledge about public accounting.

He interviewed a group of accounting interns working for local firms in Chicago. The sad result is that their perception of the CPA profession – hours worked by staff, hours worked by partners, earnings of partners – is sadly off-target.

Read my post from 2009 to learn about my experience with college students. They did not know anything about local firms, they only knew about the Big Four. Why? Because the national firms are visible on campus EVERY week.

There is much smaller firms can do.  My firm was recruiting on campus when I joined the firm and we only had nine people! So, big firm or small firm, be visible on the college campus.

  • No man's knowledge can go beyond his experience.
  • John Locke

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Employee Engagement Matters

“Paychecks can’t buy passion.” – Brad Federman

It is getting to be a rather tiring topic. To be successful, you must have employees who are engaged. You can Google the topic and find all kinds of advice.

The fact is, there is an overwhelming amount of people who are not engaged in their work. To me, that means they really don’t like what they do. Per Gallup, you have Three Types of Employees:

Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.

Not-Engaged employees are essentially “checked out.” They are sleepwalking through their workday, putting time but not energy or passion into their work.

Actively Disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work, they are busy action out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.

My motto, on this topic as it is with most things inside a busy CPA firm – – Keep It Simple

Where do your people fit? I’m sure you have some in each classification. To drive engagement, it’s simple, you have to be proactive.

  • Be sure your people know what is expected of them.
  • Let them know how important they are to the success of your clients and your firm.
  • Make sure you explain to them how their career can, or will, advance.
  • Give regular feedback so that they know how they are doing and where they are going.
  • Be a caring boss.
  • Over communicate
  • Set a good example
  • Have a sense of humor

If you do some of these things and are proactive maybe your “Not-Engaged” people will become Engaged.

For the Actively Disengaged, give them the opportunity to get a new job elsewhere.

  • Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.
  • Zig Ziglar

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Parental Leave

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock, M.D.

A few months ago I surveyed a small number of CPA firms across the country. I was curious about the kind of parental leave they offered as an employee benefit.

To my dismay, paid maternity leave is almost non-existent. CPA firms seem to approach it with a combination of actions. The employee (the mother) is encouraged to save and/or carry over PTO to be used and they combine it with short term disability options.

As far as any type of paid leave for new Dads, it seems truly non-existent.

Here is a good article from FAST Company – How Paid Parental Leave Changed in 2016. 

Some progress has been made, in general, but 2016 was not an impressive year for paid parental leave. A quarter of new mothers go back to work just 10 days after giving birth.

Just so you know, in 2016, EY announced a new policy to expand its parental benefits to over 35,000 U.S. employees. Both new mothers and fathers are eligible for up to 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave for birth, adoption, surrogacy, foster care, or legal guardianship.

If you want to attract and retain young, top talent. An impressive paid parental leave policy might just be the answer.

 

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Motivate By Individualizing

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

The Golden Rule, which is a good rule, for the most part, doesn’t always apply in today’s complex workplace environment.

Not everyone wants to be treated like “I” want to be treated.

These days training and development are all about, “One size fits one.”

The Association for Talent Development explains it this way: One size fits one is a movement toward providing learning to employees, clients, or children in a way that makes sense to the learner and not to the trainer, teacher or instructional designer.

CPA firm managers are often not very in-tune with the best ways to motivate and engage the people they supervise. In many CPA firms, everyone is trained the same and it is often a very long-standing aspect of the firm culture. Also, accounting firms do not spend enough money on educating and training their managers on how to manage PEOPLE.

One size fits one, acknowledges that people are motivated by immensely different things. For example, one person loves to be recognized publicly and another dreads being the center of attention.

Qualified managers (and partners) are good at understanding people and they adjust their supervisory style accordingly.

 

  • Don't let yesterday take up too much of today.
  • Will Rogers

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Five Workplace Trends For 2017

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” – Newt Gingrich

As you already know, nearly every CPA firm is looking for new talent. It’s truly turned into a war for talent in the public accounting profession.

It’s not just public accounting, of course. According to Glassdoor’s newest report on job trends, there is a record number of unfilled jobs – 5.85 million as of April 2016 – which represent the most since BLS started tracking job openings in 2000.

Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist, shares some 2017 job trends:

#1 HR will transform itself into “people science.”

#2 Many things get automated but we don’t lose our jobs.

#3 Nontraditional benefits will become less popular.

#4 We’ll make progress narrowing the wage gap.

#5 The Gig economy will slow down.

Read more about each trend here. I know you will be interested in #3!

  • No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt