Recruiting the best

I like to recruit people who are better than me. But there is a shortage of accountants (and other STEM careers) at the moment.

Fortunately I also like to recruit non-accountants and to train them up. I particularly look for people with customer service experience who can look after our lovely clients while we use software to run things as efficiently as possible behind the scenes. This suits our tech savvy clients.

The downside of running a modern business is that we do things very differently to most traditional accountants so it is often easier to train somebody from scratch than to persuade them to unlearn bad habits acquired elsewhere.

I like to do careers talks or interview practice in local schools so that I get an early glimpse of the new talent about to hit the workplace. One of my trainees came to me for work experience as a 17 year old and is now a manager in another local accountancy firm. And I expect they’ll go further.

If you are looking for a general manager to free you up to develop your business you could try looking at retail managers. They have a broad range of skills and could soon learn about your particular business and sector.

When it comes to recruitment try thinking outside the box.

Recruiting and retaining your team

There is a skills shortage in most industries at the moment, so it is more important than ever to look after your team. 

Ways that you can help your people to enjoy working with you 

  • Salary – this is an obvious one, but people rarely leave just for salary 
  • Flexible working – what hours would suit them? Do they really have to work full time office hours? 
  • Remote or hybrid working – where would they like to work? With modern technology do they have to travel to a single location to do their work?  
  • Workplace – if your team do come into a central workplace how can you make it nicer? 
  • Listen – do your team feel able to talk to you? Do you operate annual (or more frequent) appraisals? 
  • Training – this can be a great way to invest in your team to do their current job better or even to take on more responsibility 
  • Promotion – can you offer career progression for your team? It’s not always possible in small businesses but worth trying to expand their roles if possible 
  • Gifts – you can give your staff small gifts and experiences (but not cash or similar vouchers) for up to £50 six times per year and claim the tax on these. (Do check the full details of what you can and can’t provide) 
  • Entertaining – you can provide entertaining of up to £150pa as a business expense but any more than this and you pay tax on the full amount. 

Any other ways that you look after your team? 

When a staff member leaves

If you’re fortunate to have a brilliant team it can be quite hard when a member of staff leaves. 

Assuming that they’re leaving for the right reasons and that you’ve already wished them well, what can you do for your own business?

Treat this as an opportunity to reorganise your own business. 

  • Don’t just recycle the original job ad but draw up the organisation chart that you need for the next three years based on necessary skills/tasks, not people.
  • Add in the names of your existing team and note any additional training needs they may have for additional skills etc. in their new/enhanced roles.
  • Draw up job descriptions for any gaps that can’t be filled by your existing team. This may mean that you now have two part time roles requiring completely different skillsets.

Recruiting isn’t always straightforward.

I’ve had a scenario when I was wasn’t able to recruit exactly the right replacement so what did we do?

We took on somebody with less experience who would grow into the role and dropped all of our D clients immediately to reduce the workload. (see ‘D is for Dross’ on how to do this D is for dross – Hudson Business Advice)

The new recruit flourished and far exceeded expectations. The salary saving almost offset the lost profit on clients who weren’t well suited to our practice. As our newbie gained experience we ended up with a streamlined business even better than before.