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How Not to Lose Your Best Staff

By MarksNelson on January 19, 2018 in Articles, Entrepreneurial Services, Jennifer Katrulya

Three Tips to Keep Your Best Employees From Leaving

According to the Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report, it can cost as much as 33 percent of an employee’s annual salary to replace him or her after a resignation, layoff, or firing.

Employee Benefit News also reported that there are many indirect costs related to worker turnover. These can include:

  • The knowledge that goes out the door with the employee.
  • The hours it takes to hire a new individual.
  • The time it takes for the new hire to get trained and up to speed.

That’s a pretty compelling argument for fostering an environment where employees want to remain. They’re your most important asset. Keeping them happy and thriving can mean the difference between company stagnation and healthy growth. Here’s three tips.

1. Help Them Advance

Survey participants were asked why they left. The #1 reason was “career development,” followed by “work-life balance.” You can do something about both of these, in addition to developing other practices that will encourage employee retention.

Keep staff members challenged and advancing. According to the Work Institute’s report, almost a quarter of the employees who left jobs did so because they’d gone as far as they could in their current companies.

You may have limited control over this in your accounting department. Perhaps you have a rigid corporate hierarchy (“Payroll Clerk I tops out at x salary”). If you can’t offer promotions and higher salaries, at least give every employee opportunities to stretch their skills

Involve them in decision-making processes by, for example:

  • Requesting their input when you create department goals and build budgets.
  • Asking them to train/mentor new employees.
  • Inviting them to research and test new technologies and/or procedures that can improve bookkeeping workflow.

Try to find a little room in your budget for some kind of bonus to reward the extra effort. Even a token amount will help show your appreciation.

2. Support Good Work-Life Balance

You’ve heard this before. If you have younger staff members in your accounting department, they’ll rather expect it, but everyone will benefit. Employees these days don’t necessarily consider their work a key part of their identity like they used to. Individuals move from job to job more frequently, and the internet provides a lot of the feedback, sense of self, and social stimulation they need.

How to compete? You can start by making personal connections with your staff. Don’t try to be a peer, but show interest in who they are beyond a job description. Schedule department lunches in or out of the office just to socialize.

It’s difficult to let employees work from home in an accounting department, but do what you can to allow that, even for occasional half-days. Consider involving everyone in after-hours activities like sports or entertainment or donating time to a good social cause.

3. Be the Best Manager You Can Be

Roughly one in 10 employees surveyed by the Work Institute reported that poor management led to their departure. Being a good manager doesn’t simply mean that your staff likes you personally. It has more to do with how you help them feel valued. Are you, for example:

  • Being clear about what’s expected of employees, and about how far they can advance?
  • Providing regular feedback (including constructive criticism) that’s not just limited to performance reviews?
  • Encouraging staff members to grow professionally?
  • Treating everyone fairly?

To retain your best employees, you must sometimes fire a worker who is adversely affecting morale and productivity. You’re trying to build and maintain a top-notch accounting department, and that’s part of being a good manager.

You’ll have won half of the battle to retain your best staff members if you’ve set up a clear, organized, automated accounting workflow. We can help with this critical part of your job if you’re struggling. Let us know how we can help. Contact our Entrepreneurial Services Group at 816-743-7700.


Jennifer Katrulya

Practice Leader