Five Tips to Combat Workload Compression

June 23, 2017

Did you and your colleagues feel the squeeze of workload compression during this recent tax season? If so, you weren’t alone. In fact 65% of firms mentioned it atop their list of major pain points in a survey of the AICPA Tax Section.

It seems that workload compression is caused by:

  • Highly variable work in a fixed timeframe
  • Nearly fixed resources
  • No such thing as an easy return
  • Tax law uncertainty which prevents planning
  • Client aversion to going on extension

Five Tips to Combat Compression
Unfortunately, compression isn’t going away anytime soon so it’s important to identify ways to improve efficiency. Here are five best practices to consider.  

1. Encourage Everyone to Share Ideas for Improvement
Get your staff involved in the process.  

  • Regularly consider new ways to operate 
  • Listen carefully to everyone’s ideas
  • Reward those whose ideas are selected (gift cards, prime parking places) 

 2. Shore up Staffing
Staffing is a key element in battling compression. Does your firm have a clear commitment to hiring and retaining its tax team?

  • Consider experienced talent seasonally
  • Add interns
  • Tap audit staff to fill gaps
  • Look to high performing high schoolers

3. Communicate Due Date Changes
Communicate changes to your clients via tax updates, newsletters, websites, emails, calls and meetings. Be mindful clients are busy and don’t always notice changes, even when they are well publicized. Tell them what you need from them and when you need it.  

4. Proactively use Extensions
Manage client expectations regarding extensions. Explain the process and what it means to them. Set deadlines for information and file an extension if the necessary information isn’t received by the deadline.

5. Re-evaluate Client Cutoff Dates
Now is a good time to re-evaluate cutoff dates for clients to submit information. An extra week or two can make your life easier and allow your team to better serve clients

For additional tips, check out the PCPS/CPAFMA Workload Compression Survey to identify strategies firms are using to mitigate the impact of seasonality and workload compression.