Keeping quality staff – a mission-critical issue

Put people at the top of your strategic agenda to build a sustainable competitive advantage

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Hasn’t keeping and recruiting top people always been a crucial and strategic issue?

Twenty-nine managing partners from around the world met in Lisbon last month to discuss strategy and what’s holding their firm back – three from the UK, two from Germany, one each from France, Mauritius, Canada, Philippines, Poland, Bolivia, Switzerland and many other countries. Total employees across the firms: 5,000. Total fees: US$500m.

One issue was front and central for everyone. The same issue that is holding back almost every ambitious firm we work with in the UK – whether they be an ambitious start-up firm or a multi-office multi-million fees firm – keeping and recruiting high-quality people.

A more challenging world...

Because ‘quiet quitting’ and ‘the great resignation’ are affecting most businesses, a big opportunity exists. An opportunity to meet people where they are, rather than doing what we’ve always done.

You may always have cared for your team, been flexible to accommodate their life and family issues, paid them well and provided clear career pathways for all your people.

These are all essential, but:

  • What about providing real meaning about the work your people do? So that they genuinely care about the firm, the work, your clients and their colleagues
  • What about giving them a clear vision of the future of your firm so they can get excited about playing an active role in achieving your ambitious plans? And reassure them they are with the right firm and can achieve their personal goals
  • What about agreeing a set of values and behavioural standards that they feel ownership of and that inspires them to support your efforts creating the right working culture – one you can all be proud of together?

These are three strategic issues - issues that often get swept aside (or under the rug) because we’re all just too busy being busy.

Your people are vital to your success, of course

So, are you doing enough to make your firm worthy of their efforts, energy, enthusiasm and commitment?

Please forgive these challenging questions but the last two years have prompted every employee you have to reconsider what’s important to them. You and your firm must respond in a way that enthuses and motivates your people and encourages their commitment to your firm.

This in turn will improve your firm’s ability to recruit more great people (because you earn the right).

What can you do about it?

Most firms obsess about short term work priorities and ignore (or pay lip service to) long term strategic work. As well as the important client work of the firm, great leaders take strategy seriously.

Here are two actions you can take:

  1. Answer the eight questions of strategy – an ebook published in partnership with ACCA – and you put your firm on a path to achieving strategic health.

    This strategic work makes your firm healthy because it tackles the unanswered questions that your team have about the future of your firm, the work they do, why they’re doing it, what behavioural standards are expected and how the firm is responding to inevitable trends (tech, MTD etc) and the pressing challenges facing the firm.

  2. If you’d prefer to assess your firm’s strategic health score before you check out the ebook, this survey will give you an instant score plus suggestions on what you can do to improve your score.

Everything you do to improve the strategic health of your firm will help you to humanise the work you do. And what’s clear about all the work we do with ambitious firms, when people (team and clients) feel better about the firm and their work, the results improve.

Wishing you every success.

Douglas Aitken, Director, Remarkable Practice

Douglas is a director of Remarkable Practice and (in partnership with ACCA) co-author of the ebook, How ambitious accountants make strategy work.

Because of Douglas’s commitments to the United Nations Social Development Goals, every ebook download will result in the planting of a tree. Remember to take the survey if you want to know how strategically healthy your firm is now.

ACCA is delighted to partner with Remarkable Practice in bringing the strategy ebook to you. In addition, Remarkable Practice's engaging podcast series, Humanise The Numbers, features many ACCA firms in discussion with Paul Shrimpling, co-author of the ebook.