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National survey finds high attrition rates in accounting


The business and professional services industry, including accountants, has the second highest turnover rate compared to other industries, with more than one in 10 leaving voluntarily, according to a new report.

By Jotham Lian 11 minute read

The Institute of Managers and Leaders (IML) 2017 Staff Retention Report found that accountants, part of the business and professional services industry, had an attrition rate of 13.4 per cent, higher than the average of 9.5 per cent across all industries and topped only by the IT industry at 13.9 per cent.

The report, part of the National Salary Survey, found an average cost of $23,753 for companies to rehire each lost employee, highlighting a significant financial burden arising from poor staff retention.

Responses from 246 organisations across Australia found that the top reasons for voluntary resignation included leaving to seek new challenges (79 per cent), limited career advancement (58 per cent), and insufficient financial reward (46 per cent).


IML research product manager Charles Go said that while the report did not touch on specific measures for each industry, principals of accounting firms could focus on providing learning and development pathways.

“Having a supportive learning and development culture in the workplace can provide staff with the challenges and development they need without looking at competitor organisations,” said Mr Go.

“Set aside a set training budget every year to develop your staff. Also formalise development plans to show that individuals have clear paths and goals to grow in their role.”

Likewise, IML chief executive David Pich said employees would not be satisfied with superficial measures.

“The Staff Retention Report clearly illustrates employees are staying with organisations not for superficial perks such as free lunches or pool tables, but for opportunities that will help achieve their personal and career goals,” Mr Pich said. 

“Staff stay when their organisations show they value them by investing in their professional development and providing a clear path for career progression. The best way for organisations to retain their talent is to make a role more meaningful by adding value to their employees.

“It’s astonishing the talent and money an organisation will lose over something that is so easily prevented.”

Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian


Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.

Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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