Firm Culture. I recently saw an interesting post about culture on LinkedIn that got me thinking about this topic. Culture has become almost a buzzword in the accounting industry because firms are facing an incredibly competitive talent market combined with high expectations and long hours that come with this career choice. Firms are making a big deal out of building a culture that is a fun and balanced working environment in hopes of attracting and retaining the best talent, but unfortunately, the majority of firms are missing the mark.
Let me let you in on a little secret, which was the exact point of the LinkedIn post I mentioned, the most attractive cultures are not the firms that have team events and mixers and other “fun events.” Fun is not what the top talent is looking for in a firm culture. In all reality, a fun culture with events is going to attract the opposite of the top talent you desire as a firm.
What is it that top talent is searching for in firm culture?
Career Advancement Opportunities
You want ambitious employees, right? You are looking technically solid individuals who can step up and lead the firm in the future, right? After all, if you plan to invest years in these individuals, they should be future of the firm. Well guess what? Ambitious employees want to have a clear path to success, even from the start. The most ambitious individuals know what they want out of their career from the beginning and have plans in place to achieve those goals. If you do not have a clear career path that, most importantly, you can communicate, they are not going to be interested in a career at your firm.
Proven Success of Career Advancement
It is not enough to simply have a career path for these individuals, but how achievable is the career path at your firm? Do you talk about all of the opportunities for growth at your firm, but not have many success stories of how individuals followed that path to success? If your career path is all talk, the top talent is going to see right through that and move on to a firm that has proven their track record in career advancement.
Opportunities for Growth at All Levels
The top talent wants to be challenged. These ambitious employees can’t wait 5-10 years to have the opportunity to grow and show their value until they move up into a leadership position in the firm. Firms that offer opportunities for their top talent to shine and be challenged from the start of their career will retain the best talent throughout the entirety of their careers.
Yes, balance is still important, especially to your top performers. Ambitious individuals will work hard while they are doing their job, but they also crave the opportunity to enjoy their life outside of work just as much. Knowing the ebb and flow of public accounting, firms that encourage balance and a life outside of work will keep their top talent refreshed and producing on a higher level.
If you are searching for the most ambitious and best talent in the accounting field, it’s time to rethink what culture means to your firm. Identify what types of individuals that you are trying to attract and then think about what is really important to them. Is it free lunches? Is it a happy hour once a month? Is it firm outings? Yes, those are all great to boost morale and keep employees upbeat and motivated, but that is not culture. That is not what is going to attract the top talent to take your firm to the next level and ensure future success. Build a culture that is going to support and drive your top performers to continued success.
There is one final piece to the puzzle that I have not mentioned yet. Once you rethink culture for your firm from this perspective, there is one last step that absolutely can not be missed when developing firm culture. It is crucial that all of these steps are personalized to the individual. When you attract the top talent to your firm, these individuals want to know that you are personally invested in them as individuals. Their future success is not one size fits all so establishing a culture that uncovers individuals’ future goals and dreams will attract the best talent in the industry. If your firm makes it a point to personalize the career path of each individual and provide them the support system for them to achieve their goals, you will set your firm up for incredible success now and in the future.