Helping Your Accounting Staff Members Keep Up with Their Professional Development

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Change is coming in a big way for your accounting and bookkeeping staff members. Automation is a big part of it as is the growth of remote work: Gartner reported in April 2020 that 74 percent of CFOs said they “intend to shift some employees to remote work permanently.”

So as accounting automation and the change to working from home will affect your accounting and bookkeeping employees, so will the need to help them keep up with their professional development grow.

Why help your accounting team members keep up with their personal professional development?

There are many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that as they grow, so does the capability of your department, public accounting company or CPA firm.

McKinsey perhaps said it best (when talking about businesses in general and how the future is going to a lot different moving forward):

Companies should quickly “craft a talent strategy that develops employees’ critical digital and cognitive capabilities, their social and emotional skills, and their adaptability and resilience.”

Doing so will help you compete in the new world of accounting and finance, if not actually grow and thrive moving forward.

Another reason to help your team members develop professionally?

It helps keep them loyal to you.

Great accounting professionals skilled in automation who also are able to adapt to the many changes happening extremely quickly in the industry are becoming harder and harder to find. Providing training in emerging technologies and other skills help them feel valued – especially if you pay for their training or help them do so – and empowered.

Reskilling and upskilling your current workforce

Your automatic first impulse regarding having team members who have the tech skills that will help your accounting department or company thrive in the coming years may be to immediately look for new hires with the needed skills.

But retraining (now often called reskilling or upskilling) allows you to reposition and retain a valued team member. This, of course, really benefits them, but it also helps you: you don’t need to spend the time and expense of recruiting someone new, someone who’s not a proven team member, someone who could decide they’re not happy and leave within just a few months.

Keep in mind that reskilling quickly will turn into the need for regular upskilling as technology will continue to change and the need to keep up with it will be absolutely critical for your employees as well as ensuring that your company can keep up with the fast pace of change.

Making professional development easy to pursue

Remember that not everyone looks at learning new skills and knowledge as something enjoyable. They also may wonder if this “work” is going to be required on top of the current workload.

Make sure team members understand that professional development is important and something to welcome. (For example, could a pay raise be in the offing once they complete the training?)

If possible, give them extra time for the training: don’t expect them to deliver as much as they normally do on a workday. (Or give them an extra day off if they work on learning a new skill and then need to stay late for a few days in order to get all of their daily tasks completed.)

  • Online learning

Take a look at what you already have on hand.  For example, if you’re already using some form of online training, is there accounting/bookkeeping/finance training upon it?

Check out e-learning platforms such as Coursera, Degreed, and even LinkedIn Learning.

Industry organizations also probably have training available at low cost to members or even free.

  • Mentoring

While mentoring of lower-level employees by those at a higher level is common, consider using remote capabilities. What if someone mentored a team member via video. Or, a team member could watch someone use certain technology (new accounting software, for example) on a videoconference.

  • Peer-to-peer teaching

Many of your bookkeepers, accounting and finance pros have a knack for showing others how to do something and love to do. Allowing them to take on colleague and show them the ropes is a very inexpensive training tactic. It even could help colleagues become close(er) to each other, fostering a good sense of camaraderie.

  • Coursework reimbursement/payment

If accounting/bookkeeping employees need to take courses, seminars, attend lectures, purchase technology, etc., aim to provide compensation to them for their costs as much as possible.

After all, a lot of the training your employees will need are far longer and more intense than a free online tutorial. Some of your team members may need certifications and such programs often take weeks and tuition can be pricey. Could you reimburse them for the costs or help with financial assistance?

Providing your team members with the time and the resources to advance their skills is a truly powerful way to not only develop their knowledge but also demonstrates how much your value their work as well as their skills.

Here at Helpmates, we constantly recruit finance, accounting and bookkeeping professionals, with many of them having up-to-the-minute experience in new accounting technology.

Contact the Helpmates branch nearest you to learn more about our finance staffing services.

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