‘Old-school’ accounting businesses risk losing staff

Accounting firms that are “set in their ways” risk continuing to lose talent if they don’t adapt to modern working environments, with research finding one fifth of workers would look to lower-paid jobs if they offered flexible conditions.

Trent McLaren, senior business development manager for Intuit, said “old-school” accounting firms that aren’t ready to adopt modern systems, namely flexible working environments for employees, are placing themselves at risk of losing talented staff.

“Too many times you go into these ‘old-school’ accounting firms, a firm that’s been there for 30 or 40 years, [and] they still rely very heavily on what got them to that point, but that’s not necessarily helping them stay around for another 40 years,” Mr McLaren said.

“Good accounting firms are partners that have great leadership and great business management acumen, versus those that are a bit more old school, a bit more set in their ways; [they say] ‘That’s not how we did something, we just got on with it and got the job done and didn’t ask about it’.”

Mr McLaren said that creating balanced working environments can enhance staff culture and morale, leaving companies with employees who are not “disillusioned” or “disengaged”.

“It’s the difference between someone saying ‘Can I work from home today?’ and the boss saying, ‘You know we don’t do that, it’s not our policy’. And it becomes a thing when it doesn’t need to be; it’s just all added stress and pressure,” Mr McLaren said.

“If you’ve got that culture in place where you work hard, it doesn’t matter where you are as long as that work is completed at a quality standard that we would expect, whether you’re here or there.”

Reinforcing this point, the regional director of accountancy and finance for Hays, David Cawley, said “The good [firms] have adapted to understand more what a candidate wants when selecting their next employer”.

“We recently concluded staff engagement reports: 20 per cent of employees would take a salary drop if it meant they could work from home or have increased flexibility,” Mr Cawley said.

 

 

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