Do More with Your Crew 

“Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organization. When people
see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity,
and meaning in their job.”

-Ken Blanchard

It’s not big news that employee engagement is at record lows. What is perhaps more alarming is many companies are experiencing a crisis of engagement and aren’t even aware of it, according to Gallup. Let’s take a quick look at the numbers.

  • 34.1% of American workers are engaged (Gallup)
  • 49.5% of employees are not engaged and 16.5% are actively disengaged (Gallup)
  • 25% of employees are highly engaged, 40% are moderately engaged (Aon Hewitt)
  • 29% of millennials are engaged at work, 16% are actively disengaged, 55% are not engaged (Gallup)

Rather than simply settle for this new reality, we must ask ourselves “what can we do to buck this trend in our firms?” With the holidays upon us and busy season right around the corner, it’s a good time to take another look at this important issue. That’s why this month’s Feature Focus will explore practical steps your firm can take now and into the New Year to help you do more with your crew.

Seven Steps to Get Things Started
Not exactly sure where to get started? Here are seven proven strategies to consider in your firm. The best part is they are not overly time-consuming or expensive. Chances are good you are already doing some of them, so all that may be needed is a few tweaks to your approach. 

P.S. If you are already stressed to your limits, don’t fret. Know that even small purposeful actions can go a long way in making a big impact here.

1. Lay the Foundation for Your Employees to Get Involved
Everyone wants to be part of a winning team but often they don’t know how to go about it. Did you know that rallying millennials around a mission and purpose dramatically increases their     engagement (Gallup)? What’s more, 67% of millennials are engaged at work when they strongly agree that the mission and purpose of their company makes them feel their job is important. So rather than simply flash up a PowerPoint slide at your next employee orientation with your firm’s mission and purpose and think your job is done, help everyone in your practice understand what this really means. Share stories and examples of how members of the firm embrace this mission and bring its purpose to life each day in the work they do. Show each person how:

  • They fit into the firm and the team(s) they serve
  • Their specific role fits into the bigger picture
  • Their work impacts their colleagues and the firm’s clients
  • Their work impacts potential new hires and prospective clients
  • More than a one-time initiative, share stories regularly that reinforce this and continue the conversation with your team. 

2. Set Clear Expectations for Everyone
Once you lay the groundwork, it’s important to set clear expectations for every member of your team. Discuss each person’s role with them. Make sure they are clear on it. Establish well-defined tasks and due dates for all deliverables. Reinforce this importance by discussing progress at regular meetings. Consider quick check in meetings at the start or end of each week rather than lengthy meetings. Help your team understand the resources that are available to them, too. We are talking about firm members they can look to when they need support and guidance along the way. It’s also a good time to discuss the firm’s mentoring program.

3. Tap Into Discretionary Energy
Discretionary Energy is the amount of energy an employee chooses to exert when completing work assignments. This can be demonstrated in terms of quality of service, attention to detail, creativity, innovation, problem solving and collaboration, to name a few. The big question here is do your employees go above and beyond what is expected of them when serving the firm, their colleagues and clients? And more importantly, what are firm leaders doing to give employees a reason to go the extra mile? Be mindful your employees have a choice as to the amount of energy they exert to complete work assignments.
4. Understand What’s Significant to Each Individual 
To tap into your employee’s discretionary energy you must first understand what is significant to each of them. Did you know 54% of millennials say their loyalty to employers is influenced by how much their employer cares about their well-being (PwC)? So get to know each employee first as a person. Learn why they are working in your practice, what drives them and what their talents are. When you know what’s behind why they do what they do, it’s much easier to tap into their energy and creativity.

  • What interests, special skills and talents do they have?
  • What do they enjoy doing when they are not working?
  • What is their primary motivation for working in your practice?
  • What areas of the practice are they most interested in?
  • What causes are important to them?

5. Encourage Collaboration
Collaboration can provide your firm with a new route to engagement, problem solving, innovation and productivity. Help create a collaborative environment in your practice. Get started by encouraging joint discussions among team members. Consider naming a senior member of the firm to head this initiative to help drive change. Look to the team to provide new ideas on how to solve specific challenges facing the firm. Build on successes by addressing ongoing issues.  

6. Make Time to Celebrate 
With hectic schedules and tight deadlines, it’s easy to complete big projects then move right onto the next one without pause or reflection. If you want to truly engage your employees and tap into their discretionary energy, it’s essential to take the time to celebrate all the good work they have done. Celebrate often. Consider monthly awards. People want to know that what they do each day makes a difference. When you take time to recognize them, they will rise to the occasion. Highlight those who have excelled beyond the norm. Spotlight what they did well. Help everyone understand the type of exemplary performance your firm is looking for. Show them that what they are doing makes a difference to firm’s leaders. The more you highlight outstanding performance, the more people will go the extra mile.

7. Give Back
It’s not just all about being profitable but rather giving back that is important to today’s employees. 40% of millennials who plan to remain in their jobs beyond 2020 say their employers have a strong sense of purpose beyond financial success (Deloitte). So it’s important to encourage purposeful acts of giving in your firm - not only during the holidays but throughout the year. As you do, consider these tips:

  • Focus on the special interests of your employees and your clients 
  • Zero in on how your firm wants to go about its giving 
  • Adopt a charity for the holidays
  • Rather than just giving your time and resources now, get involved throughout the year
  • Identify a day each month for your firm to serve the community
  • Tap those most interested in the cause to help lead initiatives in your firm
  • Share success stories in your meetings
  • Feature your involvement on your website and in your firm’s social media

Practical Tools You Can Use

If you are looking for some tools to help you put these and other strategies to work right away, check out the 10 Initiatives for Employee Engagement resource located in the PCPS Human Capital Center. Not only are they easily customizable for your firm, they are free for PCPS members.

Here’s to bucking the trend and doing more with your crew!  


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