Firms must become better places to work

minute read

Last Updated September 29, 2023


I’m just speculating here…but it’s never appeared to me that new employees took a job in our profession with the idea that they were already looking for another job.

With that said, however, it sure seems like there are a lot of employees in the tax and accounting industry looking for another job. So, what’s the deal with the tax and accounting profession?

Let me tick off a few things that seem obvious:

  • We have a bad business model—I know, I say this in just about every article, but I think it’s true. And clearly, I can’t say it enough because firms aren’t changing as quickly as they need to be. The reality is that the revenue generated is—at least in the immediate moment—more important to firm owners than their teams, and that’s creating a lot of frustration for employees who just want to be able to get their job done.
  • We’re bad businesspeople—Firm owners are too busy getting stuff done to be good businesspeople. They’re so busy they can’t keep up with the volume—and yet, they feel financially constrained and won’t spend the money to implement best-in-class technology to make their staff’s jobs easier. This is also creating great frustration for their teams.
  • We’re measuring the wrong stuff—Too many leaders have failed to evolve beyond measuring the time their staff spends on their jobs. Time spent still seems to be the measurement of productivity. Today’s team members are looking for flexibility in their schedules so they can live their lives—a realization enabled by the pandemic. Firm leaders must figure out how to measure what really matters to the success of their firms, and then collaboratively work with their teams to meet those objectives while meeting the needs of their teams.
  • We’re doing things that aren’t in our nature—Communicating with our team members about feelings doesn’t seem like a skill set many of us possess. Just like physical health, a strong mental health program is critical in the world we live in today. Leaders are too busy getting crap done (excuse the language, but frustration begets brutal honesty) to pay attention to the team around them. Trust me when I say that this is no longer working for your team.

This is a short list with a lot of heavy stuff. However, if you don’t make it a priority to have this list of thoughts in hand as you work on your firm, you run the risk of losing those you depend upon to keep your firm viable.

John Mitchell and I go on and on about these topics in our podcasts and every other presentation, so I realize I’m not saying anything new here. But when I hear—and lately, it’s at least weekly—that another good firm has just lost a significant part of their staff and they’re not sure what they’re going to do, my heart breaks a little every time.

That’s why I’m advocating for you to be proactive. Because trust me, the four points I called out above as significant risks for your firm are not going away. Singly and collectively, our profession is capable of meeting the needs of not only our clients but also our teams. And there is nothing I want more for us than to show other industries how we accounting professionals rise to meet our challenges and create a better-balanced life for us all.

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