The demand for qualified accounting and finance personnel has grown, as business owners struggle to manage unpredictable cash flows, increased costs, and new government policies and financial aid packages. Plus, the potential job market for these professionals has expanded, thanks to technological changes that now allow them to transcend geographic boundaries and work from virtually anywhere.

High turnover can lead to major problems: It can lower productivity, delay financial reporting and decision-making, and even trigger a snowball effect among the remaining team members. Plus, recruiting and training replacements can be costly and time-consuming.

Some turnover is natural in every department. But if the voluntary departure rate in your accounting department has become excessive, it may be time to consider these four corrective measures:

1. Strengthen bonds with employees

Happy employees feel valued, challenged and connected to their employer. Owners and executives should take time to connect with the people who work behind the scenes, including members of the accounting team, to find out how they view their role and the company.

Ask internal accounting personnel to share their career aspirations. Then, where possible, provide them with the support to realize those goals. Setting aside the time to connect and listen to employees can go a long way toward improving retention.

2. Work closely with human resources

By partnering with HR, the accounting department can improve its ability to nurture and retain key employees. For example, HR can help create and implement a flexible scheduling program or administer an employee satisfaction survey with the accounting department. Or, if a specific employee is a flight risk, HR can help address the individual’s concerns and re-engage him or her in the team.

3. Remember remote employees

The accounting department is well-suited for remote work, even beyond the COVID-19 crisis. But it’s not right for everyone. Some employees will adapt to it quickly, while others may struggle or need to come into the office occasionally, especially when closing the books at the end of the accounting period.

Keep the lines of communication open with remote accounting personnel. In addition to regular videoconferencing check-in meetings, provide them with office supplies, intranet resources and access to your company’s networks. Without these types of support, it’s easy for remote workers to become disengaged.

4. Uncover the root causes for departures

If you lose your controller, CFO or another key member of your accounting team, make it a teachable moment. Conduct exit interviews to learn why the employee is leaving.

During those discussions, ask open-ended questions that allow the individual to share his or her experiences at your company. Also resist the temptation to challenge his or her statements or entice the individual to stay. The goal is to encourage the individual to share freely without fear of repercussions or being made to feel guilty.

Your accounting team is a critical asset

From financial statements and tax returns to budgets and forecasts, the accounting department provides valuable insight into how your company is performing and what strategic direction makes sense for the future. As fellow accountants, we can be a helpful source of ideas to retain your current staff and recruit new members. Contact us for more information.

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