According to a CNBC article, 4.2 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs last November. Given that the price of eggs rose about 60 percent in 2022, and the annual inflation rate was about 6.5 percent for the 12 months that ended December 31, 2022 (current US inflation rates: 2000-2023, USinflationcalculator.com), this job statistic surprised me a bit. As the cost-of-living surges past the verge of ridiculous, one would think that more and more people would be inclined to sit still in their cozy positions. But, as the article explains, 61 percent of U.S. workers are also considering leaving their jobs in 2023. Even the fears of a recession aren’t stopping individuals from seeking out other opportunities.
Employee retention, therefore, is one of the biggest challenges that many organizations — including those in the accounting profession — are facing today. It's never been a secret that in the public accounting industry, there's a high turnover in staff, especially among the Big 4. Recently, even smaller firms are starting to see the trend of more and more people leaving for other opportunities. Today, more workers feel less loyal to their employers, and there is no real sense of commitment anymore. People want higher compensation, an improved work-life balance, flexible schedules, and more opportunities for career growth. Companies are starting to see employees that have been there for years quit because higher compensation opportunities or more flexible schedules are being offered. “Quiet quitting” is also becoming the new trend for many companies as well because of a lack of motivation to go above and beyond in job responsibilities.
I decided to informally survey a group of 20 employees that work in public accounting, ranging from experienced staff to new managers, to try to find out what people value on their jobs. The results of the survey showed:
- 90 percent were motivated by money, work-life balance and company culture.
- 70 percent were motivated more by job satisfaction than they were by money.
- 85 percent said that work-life balance was very important to them.
- 70 percent said that they value compensation over recognition.
- 100 percent said that growth opportunities are important to them.
So, how can companies motivate and retain staff? It starts with an organization’s tone at the top and leaders getting to know their people. Here are important issues to consider:
- Business leaders need to be asking their staff what motivates them, and what they are looking to get out of their careers. They should be investing in them and showing them that they are important. It’s essential to show your employees that you care about their success and their well-being. When employees feel appreciated and feel like they are valuable members of the team and that their work matters, they are motivated to work harder, and they perform better as a result.
- While compensation doesn't seem to be a main driver for employees, it is still a pretty important factor. Better compensation can be a valuable tool for leaders to use to leverage high performers from going elsewhere.
- Creating an open culture where employees feel like they are part of the solution helps drive success. People leave jobs for many reasons, but good leadership, and some basic concepts like investing in your people and showing them that you see their efforts can be the reason why people decide to stay.