Employee retention - Ways to mitigate staff attrition
Staff Attrition Vertical

Employee retention: Ways to mitigate staff attrition

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In August 2022, Big Four firm Deloitte reported that 82.4% of hiring managers struggled in finding accounting and finance talent. A trend common in all work sectors, the Great Resignation is exacerbated by the fact that fewer Americans are pursuing university courses and professional certification. Despite the need for more specialized skills, including cybersecurity, increasingly complex tech stacks, and industry-specific software, employees are leaving at faster rates and joining at slower rates.

In a field such as accounting with its reputation of high entry requirements, high-stress environments, especially during tax season, and mundane tasks, all these factors result in a sort of “talent war” for a limited pool of qualified, specialized individuals.

The accounting profession is here to stay; there will always be a demand for intelligent financial support and services. However, firms need to reframe their expectations: No longer can exceptional performance be limited to one area. Rather, to retain and find new staff, firms must empower employees at the holistic and individual levels. These employees can then embrace broader aspects of accounting, such as technological innovation, forecasting, strategic planning, risk management, and business expansion, resulting in greater employee retention.

Hiring process

On the front end, firms must adjust their long-lead pipeline. This means widening the standards of what a qualified applicant looks like. Re-evaluate the necessity of a four-year or accounting degree, for example, and offer competitive salaries and benefits packages to a diversified applicant pool.

Clear vision

In the face of rapidly diversifying demands, firms need a clear vision more than ever. This means establishing limitations: defining what the right clients and services are, as well as what they aren’t. Employees are happiest under these conditions because the work tends to be more meaningful. Firms can further mitigate staff attrition by leaning on technological solutions to drive revenue streams, and increase efficiency, prioritizing monthly income opposed to solely tax season income, a common source of burnout. Outsource tasks that are either mundane or unfamiliar to your staff. One example might be using an external, private-cloud solution for today’s ever-changing cybersecurity concerns.

Workplace culture

Conversely, firms should loosen unnecessary limitations on existing employees. Accounting is notorious for its high-stress culture and mundane nature, an issue that can be managed by clear boundaries on overtime and workload, especially during tax season. But to truly alleviate staff attrition, consider allowing greater autonomy in ways that do not sacrifice productivity, including remote work, family leave, vacation hours, or PTO.

A culture of leadership transparency can allow employees to be known and heard in the event of key decisions. An employee who also sees a path toward growth and career advancement in your firm, perhaps by incentivizing CPA exams through loans/rewards or a robust mentoring focus, is more likely to stay long term. Such long-term employees should then be recognized and rewarded openly. Sabbatical programs, the average timescale being 5 years among high-performing practices, are a tangible example.


While competitive compensation is the most obvious element in employee retention, firms can offer other creative resources to help bolster excellence and encourage socialization. Provide healthy food and mental health services, while incentivizing recreation and exercise. These integrated services can greatly improve workplace morale and stave off burnout, making the office a more friendly, yet productive place to work.

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