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Even while some firms are persuading staff to return to the office at least 2 or 3 days a week the hybrid working arrangement is here to stay. While these hybrid working arrangements differ firm to firm, it is important to consider how to keep your accountants engaged in this environment.
With some in the office, others remote, sometimes crossing paths on a Wednesday, sometimes not even residing in the same state or country; keeping remote employees feeling like they’re connected to the team is critical to public accounting firm success.
How has engagement been affected by the increase of remote work?
Remote work offers flexibility, autonomy, and reduced commute time, leading to higher job satisfaction and better work-life balance. However, it can also result in feelings of isolation and loneliness, communication challenges, blurred work-life boundaries, and difficulty monitoring performance, all of which may negatively impact engagement levels.
Why is engagement so crucial to public accounting firm success?
It may seem obvious but solid employee engagement doesn’t only look like high productivity and a healthy set of networking skills (although we do like that!)
Employee engagement plays a critical role in various aspects of the accounting profession. Whether an auditor, tax preparer, bookkeeper or staff accountant, better engagement can improve not only accuracy, compliance and proactiveness, but also ethical standing and firm reputation itself. Not to mention increased technology adoption and team collaboration!
Engaged employees are more likely to be thorough, detail-oriented, and have client satisfaction in mind. High levels of engagement also encourage better teamwork, knowledge sharing, and innovation, which contribute to the success of both individual accountants and the firm as a whole.
An engaged team are also more open to embracing new technologies and tools that can streamline processes and enhance service offerings, ensuring that accounting firms stay ahead in a rapidly evolving industry.
How can firms ensure their remote employees feel engaged?
Here are 7 tips to keep remote accountants engaged at work:
1. Help employees avoid burnout
Encourage accountants to take breaks and establish a clear work-life balance, especially during busy seasons. Provide resources on stress management and time management techniques specific to the accounting profession, and consider offering flexible work schedules when possible. You can offer leadership by, for example, making it clear you don’t respond to emails outside of your own hours, and, regardless of when you’re working, setting emails to send only during the recipients work hours.
2. Offer a home office reimbursement policy
Remote accountants may need specialized equipment, software, or ergonomic furniture to perform their tasks efficiently. Offering a reimbursement policy for these expenses can help them set up a comfortable and productive workspace.
3. Show appreciation for all the hard work
Recognize the efforts and accomplishments of your hybrid and remote accountants through shout-outs in team meetings, performance-based rewards, or simply sending a thank-you message. Acknowledging their contributions can boost morale and motivate. We all like being told we’re doing a good job.
4. Provide ongoing professional development opportunities
Offer access to relevant online courses, webinars, and certifications. Encourage remote accountants to participate in industry conferences and events, either virtually or in-person. Gathering your team at a conference has the benefit of upskilling them whilst giving an opportunity for social interaction within the team and for them to meet staff from other firms to share ideas.
5. Acknowledge special occasions so everyone feels included
Celebrate milestones, birthdays, and achievements of both office-based and remote accountants through virtual events or by sending personalized messages and tokens of appreciation. This helps create a sense of belonging and fosters a positive work culture.
6. Establish clear communication channels
Ensure that remote accountants have access to reliable communication tools and platforms, such as video conferencing software, instant messaging, and email. Encourage open lines of communication between team members and supervisors to address concerns or questions promptly. If you’re concerned about team members who are struggling make sure to check in regularly, just like you would have done when they were at the office in-person.
7. Keep office and remote workers connected
Schedule regular virtual meetings and training sessions to ensure that both office-based and remote accountants stay updated on company policies, industry trends, and best practices. Utilize collaboration tools such as shared documents and project management software to promote teamwork across different locations.
Your team members are what get your work done and make you money. It’s in your own best interest to make sure they turn up every day feeling motivated and supported. This will get your client requirements met and make sure you retain the talent you’ve worked so hard to get.
About the Authors
Giles Pearson FCA was a PwC Partner for 18 years before jointly setting up Accountests.
Steve Evans has a whole career dedicated to enabling employers to attract, recruit, develop and retain talented individuals and teams, with particular expertise in candidate testing and assessment before setting up Accountests.
Accountests deliver the world’s only online suite of annually updated and country-specific technical knowledge tests designed by accountants for accountants and bookkeepers.