Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

How to Keep Them Once You've Got Them: A Novel Approach Cuts Turnover to Half the Industry Average

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

How to Keep Them Once You've Got Them: A Novel Approach Cuts Turnover to Half the Industry Average

Article excerpt


* A REGIONAL FIRM, PLANTE & MORAN (P&M), developed and implemented a strategy called "rerecruiting," an ongoing program based on staff recognition and appreciation, to maximize staff retention. Its turnover rate for the past decade ranks between 8% and 15% annually--well below industry standards.

* MANAGEMENT-CREATED WORKSHOPS explain the value of rerecruiting and traditional recruiting on college campuses. When P&M recruits potential staff members from college, it discusses their unlimited potential heading toward becoming a partner someday.

* THE FIRM CAUTIONS THAT IMPLEMENTING a rerecruiting program is not a quick fix. Leadership must start from the top. If firms rely solely on managers to support the initiative without engaging partners and other supervisory staff, the initiative likely will fail.

* THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL RERECRUITING is consistent and proactive communication with valued staff members. It's an idea that must be embedded in the firm culture coming from the tone at the top and reinforced through principles, policies and individual commitment.

* THE BROAD-BASED COMMUNICATION program emphasizes contact with staff via e-mails and voice mails about firm initiatives, congratulations for a job well done, or a simple "Have a wonderful holiday." This activity is based on the assumption that the more informed staff members are about the firm's goals, the more they'll feel part of the team and subsequently will want to stay with the firm.

Picture your most valued staff member--that loyal pinnacle of client service, technical knowledge, team spirit and productivity. Now picture that person expressing the unthinkable: She's leaving your firm for another position. What do you do? Do you offer her more money? A promotion? Adjust her schedule or discuss her unlimited future potential with the firm? Do you point out just how valuable she is to the firm and how much you appreciate her efforts? These words might have been effective last week or last month, but odds are it's too late now. You've lost her.

The costs of staff turnover can be enormous (see "What's Your Turnover Risk?" page 59). From interviewing potential candidates to notifying valued clients that a great client server is departing to dips in productivity while the incoming staff member climbs the learning curve to get a handle on the full scope of the position, losing a critical staff member can be a devastating blow to productivity. The odds are against employers who shortchange staff retention: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States will have 10 million more jobs than people by 2010. In addition, says The Conference Board, less than half of all Americans are satisfied with their jobs. So what can you do? How do you keep them once you've hired them? This case study details how one firm does it.

Plante & Moran (P&M), a regional firm headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, asked those very questions. To answer them, it developed a strategy called "rerecruiting," an ongoing program based on staff recognition and appreciation to maximize staff retention. Read on to learn how the firm incorporated this program into its daily activities and culture and how it has kept the annual turnover rate for the past decade between 8% and 15%--about half that of the industry average for large firms.


When confronting personnel problems, an employer's instinct often is to throw money at them, as more money ostensibly yields a happier staff member. And it might--in the short term. However, real problems continue and eventually will have to be dealt with--and the more-money solution can be L[ potentially devastating to other staff members who perceive the short-term fix as unfair. Research shows that as long as compensation is fair, it doesn't tend to be a major factor in staff turnover. …

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