Intellectual Growth: The New Employee Retention Tool

By Messmer, Max | The National Public Accountant, September 2001 | Go to article overview

Intellectual Growth: The New Employee Retention Tool


Messmer, Max, The National Public Accountant


You've implemented casual dress days, an open-door management policy and flexible work hours to enhance your employee retention. But have you taken a careful look at your commitment to provide your staff opportunities for intellectual growth? Increasingly, professionals are basing their decision to remain with a firm on whether they are able to continue learning through assignments that challenge their creativity.

By supporting intellectual growth, you contribute to a more stable workforce and enhance your firm's bottom line. Employees stimulated by interesting work and the ability to continue building their skills are more likely to be satisfied and remain with your organization long-term. In addition, staff members who are passionate about what they're learning typically transfer this enthusiasm to their jobs. Their heightened creativity often results in innovative ideas and winning initiatives that benefit the entire organization.

Research shows that many businesses already recognize the value in providing intellectual growth opportunities. In a survey commissioned by our company, 89 percent of executives polled said they believe employers are more proactively promoting creativity among staff than they were five years ago.

At progressive accounting firms, intellectual growth encompasses much more than on-the-job training or improving an employee's financial knowledge. It includes a strong commitment to helping staff achieve both short- and long-term career goals. Employees are given increased responsibilities and assigned to projects that enhance key skills, such as leadership, analytical and communication abilities. A successful effort also requires a strong partnership with senior management to ensure learning is a top priority throughout the organization.

The following suggestions can help you develop an effective intellectual growth platform at your firm:

* Welcome innovation

Today's accounting professionals seek environments in which new ideas and approaches are encouraged and rewarded. By allowing experimentation and prudent risk-taking, you not only address individuals' needs to apply their creativity, but also allow your firm to better adapt to changing times and markets.

It's also important to invite staff to brainstorming sessions whenever special projects, challenges or accelerated deadlines arise. Let them know that you're open to suggestions and that, if well thought out, their proposals stand a realistic chance of being implemented. Make it clear that you will support their good ideas when presented to senior management. Once an employee makes a recommendation, it's critical not only to act on it when practical, but also to allow that individual to develop a solution if there are problems with the initial proposal. …

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