HELP! Why Is Employee Turnover So High in My Accountancy Practice?

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • What employee turnover is.
  • The causes of high employee turnover and how to improve/address it.
  • Effects of high employee turnover.
  • Discover more about our accountancy recruitment services

Employee turnover can be a big problem and tracking the reasons why employees are leaving your practice can be difficult and time consuming. Employee turnover cuts into profits and impacts customer satisfaction, but it is preventable with these insights and strategies. 

If you're experiencing high employee turnover in your accountancy practice, you're not alone. According to a study by Remote, employee turnover rates have increased by 9% since 2019 and practices cannot afford to lose additional staff while applicants for new positions are down.

It is difficult for employers to win the war for top talent and ensure employees are happy, motivated and satisfied in their role. However, there are strategies which you can put in place to prevent employee turnover and retain your best talent. Throughout this blog, we delve into everything which could ever need to know!  

What is employee turnover?

Employee turnover refers to employees leaving an organisation over a set period, often on a year-on-year basis. Tracking employee turnover is important for practices to determine how many people are leaving the practice and under what circumstances.

Turnover measures separations and is broken down into voluntary and involuntary. The reasons for employees leaving the accountancy practice could be for personal reasons, a new job, retirement or to pursue educational opportunities.

What causes high employee turnover?

Voluntary turnover can be money or management related, personal or be as a result of the conditions of the accountancy practice. There are many reasons as to why your employees are unhappy, unsatisfied or unfulfilled at work and therefore why employee turnover is high.

If you have high employee turnover, it is fixable and there are ways to prevent employees from leaving you. 

Employees who voluntarily leave their jobs are often seeking more money, preferable benefits, career progression or a better work/life balance.

Now more than ever, employers are giving employees what they want, and that means prioritising mental health, work/life balance, offering more flexibility, benefits and progression opportunities.

What causes high employee turnover?

Reasons for high employee turnover include:

  • Lack of career advancement.
  • Lack of benefits.
  • Toxic workplace.
  • Lack of flexibility.
  • Career change.
  • Poor mental health.

Lack of career advancement

Employees may leave their accountancy practice based on their desire for more or better opportunities for professional progression. If your accountancy practice doesn’t value or encourage career development or offer promotions, Accountants could look at joining other practices that will support their career development.

There are many qualifications and accreditations for Accountants to advance their accounting career to take them to the next level; employees want the opportunity to develop their careers and feel supported by their employer in doing so.

How to improve

Ensure that your practice offers opportunities for career development whether that be providing regular training to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments, or offering opportunities to attend conferences or lectures and network.

Encourage employees to pursue accountancy qualifications such as the ACCA, CGMA, CIA to enhance their skills; by investing time and money into your employees, you will have a much higher chance of retaining them.

Lack of benefits

High turnover could be a sign that your employers are seeking a higher salary or better benefits elsewhere. Employees can be disheartened and disappointed by an organisation's lack of benefits, low salary or a lack of acknowledgement which can contribute to high employee turnover.

Employees that are happy, fulfilled and feel appreciated at work are less likely to leave employment than those who feel they have no benefits or rewards for their time and effort.

How to improve

Facilities and benefits make all the difference in making employees happy; investing in your employees shows that you are committed to their growth and development. Consider offering benefits to your employees such as a gym membership, childcare vouchers, an in-house creche, bike to work scheme, additional annual leave or flexible work arrangements.

It’s crucial to make sure that you’re offering benefits which are considered valuable and useful to your employees. An employee survey could help you to decipher which benefits you’re currently offering are being used and which benefits you could implement in the future to please and retain employees.  

Generally speaking, skilled and experienced workers look for competitive salaries and senior workers look for healthcare benefits and retirement plans. Implement plans and benefits that employees want to avoid losing good employees to competitors.

Toxic workplace

Employee turnover can be affected by a toxic workplace and employers should consider whether there is a problem at work that has directly caused or increased employee turnover.

According to breatheHR, one-third of British employees choose to walk away from their jobs due to the dire consequences of a toxic workplace culture and 75% of employees confess to having personally endured a toxic workplace culture.

It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that employees are happy at work because those who aren’t happy or satisfied are much more likely to leave their job. 

How to improve

It’s extremely important to discover whether there is a problem with an individual or multiple employees which is creating a toxic work culture. If a toxic work culture is detected, it is crucial to improve or eliminate it to avoid losing great employees who might tire of or fear the culture. 

A positive culture at work includes treating employees with respect, recognising success and achievements, and supporting employees needs and requests. 

The signs of a toxic workplace include:

  • People don't trust each other.
  • Interpersonal relationships aren’t healthy.
  • There is no support for employee growth.
  • Employees are disengaged.
  • Employee turnover is high.
  • Employees regularly experience symptoms of work stress.
  • Unethical behaviour.

Employees want to share the same values as their practice and be part of a positive environment that improves teamwork, raises morale and increases productivity. Remove toxicity in the workplace and prevent employee turnover by encouraging an inclusive and welcoming environment.

Ensure that your practice motivates employees to feel empowered, motivated and engaged by encouraging employee growth. This will help to retain the best talent.

Lack of flexibility

One of the primary reasons employees change jobs is the absence of flexibility in their working patterns. According to Gov.UK, 12% of employees left their profession altogether due to a lack of flexibility.

This statistic signals a need for more flexibility in the workplace to boost mental and physical health and allow employees to better balance their work and life commitments. In the absence of flexible working patterns or without the option to occasionally or permanently work from home, employees can feel even more overwhelmed, stressed or burnt out.

How to improve

To help retain great employees, you could explore offering flexible working patterns to give you a competitive edge over other practices. 

Of the 216 accounting firms that participated in the 2022 Anytime, Anywhere Work (ATAWW) Survey, 97% allowed their talent to choose where they work, while 94% offer flexibility in when people are working. However, in 2023, there seemed to be a gradual shift towards mandating employees return back to the office. To retain great talent, it might be prudent to buck this trend.

Offer flexible working arrangements to accommodate people's needs and put in place flexible working and progressive maternity and paternity policies.

Poor mental health

If employee turnover is high, it could be as a result of personal issues like mental health, which has been exacerbated by heavy workload, stress or lack of support. Improving mental health in accountancy practices can help to avoid burnout and reduce stress that might cause, trigger or worsen employees mental health.

Poor work schedules and long hours can contribute to high turnover rates and impact employees' mental health. Employees want to be able to find a balance between their work and personal lives, otherwise they can become less productive, affecting team morale and resulting in high employee turnover.

How to improve

If an employee leaves for personal issues such as mental or physical health, there are measures employers can take to provide support to better accommodate needs.

You could offer wellness benefits to help employees thrive such as wellbeing days, yoga, physical sports or meditation classes.

You could set up a wellness program and appoint a wellbeing champion to drive initiatives and ensure that your practice is understanding and compassionate of mental health challenges.

It’s important to address mental health on an employee-by-employee basis as every person will experience situations differently. By discussing the challenges your employees are facing, you may be able to make reasonable adjustments such as changing a person’s working pattern to enable them to start later or finish earlier because of the side effects of medication, or allowing them to travel the night before meetings and stay over to avoid early morning travel. 

By being caring, compassionate and accommodating, you will avoid losing staff to competitors. 

Effects of high employee turnover

Having high employee turnover can have a negative impact on your practice and create obstacles in your plans for the future of the organisation. Without addressing the reasons for high employee turnover or making changes to your practice, high employee turnover can be costly, stressful and counterproductive.

High employee turnover can result in:

  • A decrease in productivity.
  • Loss of time spent on training new employees.
  • High recruitment and training costs.
  • Loss of sales.
  • Low employee morale and damage to company culture.
  • Loss of talent to competitors.
  • Damage to company reputation.

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If you’re searching for advice or inspiration, we recently sat down to interview Matt about his experiences of recruiting with the accountancy sector.  

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