Today’s audit firms face an unprecedented challenge. How to balance clients’ needs, worker safety, and personal liability in the face of coronavirus? As the country begins to reopen, amid a surge in coronavirus cases, that decision seems more impossible than ever. In talking to our clients, we’ve heard some of the pros and cons of getting back to work and returning to the office. And we’d like to take this opportunity to share our thoughts and foster dialogue as part of the audit community. It feels hard because it is To reopen or not to reopen? It’s the question on…
The Hidden Costs of Traditional Staffing Solutions
And the unique benefits of strategic staffing solutions
Anyone who has survived their first busy season knows that workflow in the financial sector exists in a constant state of flux. Each year, HR departments stare down the same problem: how to staff up for peak seasons without burning out full-time staff.
While supplemental and temporary employees provide a buffer for your full-time employees, it also takes time and resources to recruit, onboard, and manage them. In addition to being more expensive—many seasonal auditors can make 75% of their annual salary in just a few months—there are also less quantifiable costs to traditional staffing solutions.
However, by staffing strategically, HR departments can build agile teams without hurting the bottom line, damaging team morale, or risk sacrificing consistency in client service.
As you read on, you’ll find:
- A breakdown of the hidden costs inherent in traditional staffing solutions, such as hiring interns, temps, or gig workers.
- How traditional staffing solutions contribute to the shortage of highly skilled workers in the financing sector.
- How traditional staffing solutions overlook the value of consistent, high-quality service and what you can do about it.
The necessity of supplemental staff
Accounting can be a great career when it comes to work-life balance. But any auditor worth their salt knows the rules go out the window during busy season. From January through March (sometimes well into April), 60 hour weeks become the norm. The work deluge is anecdotally tied to high levels of burnout and turnover in public accounting. Plus, the extra hours your employees are putting in don’t necessarily translate to additional work.
According to a recent Salon piece, countless studies show that our ability to focus wanes throughout the day. “By the eighth hour of the day, people’s best work is usually already behind them (typically turned in between hours 2 and 6). In Hour 9, as fatigue sets in, they’re only going to deliver a fraction of their usual capacity. And with every extra hour beyond that, the workers’ productivity level continues to drop, until at around 10 or 12 hours they hit full exhaustion.” In other words, when your employees consistently hit overtime during busy season, you pay time and a half for a fraction of the work capability.
Plus, increased workloads and long hours contribute to employee burnout. Unfortunately, busy season has all the recognized components of burnout: a high volume of work, quick deadlines, tedious and focus-intensive tasks, and a chaotic environment with lots of demands.
HR departments and finance executives have traditionally turned to seasonal and supplemental staff to handle fluctuating workloads. Firms hire interns, recruit temps through a staffing agency, or contract gig employees. This temporary staff is necessary for firms that need to meet client demands during peak seasons without burning out full-time staff.
The modern problem with traditional staffing solutions
The biggest issue with conventional staffing solutions? You need them more than they need you.
Auditing, like many other professions, is facing labor shortages as the baby boomer generation retires, and recruitment efforts fail to fill the gap. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that the number of available jobs to grow in the double-digits. And the American Institute of CPAs Q2 Economic Outlook Survey 2018 shows that 43 percent of CEOs, CFOs, controllers, and other CPA executives currently have too few employees. That’s a 2 percent increase over the previous quarter.
Demand for skilled workers sharply exceeds the supply, something that many are acutely aware of. Savy seasonal employees will use this fact to negotiate higher wages, to have travel costs bankrolled by the company, and to negotiate bonuses or other contracts.
And the draw of freelance work may contribute to the industry-wide shortage of full-time talent. A 2016 report from Upwork and the Freelancers Union found that 35% of the US workforce are opting for freelance gigs. In 2017, there was a slight uptick, from 35% to 36% of the workforce.
Also, more workers these days are open to trading in job security for freedom. ManpowerGroup surveyed over 9,000 global workers and found that 87 percent of those surveyed would consider joining the gig economy.
The real cost of traditional staffing solutions
When you see an avalanche of work coming down the mountain towards your already stretched-too-thin team, it might be tempting to pay any price for skilled help. However, the costs of knee-jerk hiring go well beyond the extra payroll costs or 1099s.
Mitigating cultural clashes
It’s easy to find someone with the right certifications and experience to get the job done. However, finding somebody with the attitude, personality, and soft skills that mesh with your core team is a different story. During busy season, your employees are already challenging their personal and professional limits. The last thing they need is someone hired to “help” who ends up causing even more stress.
Instilling company values
You already know the importance of creating purpose. When employees are working towards—and for—something larger than themselves, it creates an atmosphere of passion, drive, and innovation. So how do you motivate a short-term employee to invest in your firm’s big picture values and mission? And, just as importantly, whose job is it to course-correct if that temporary employee isn’t thriving in their position?
A month into the busy season, the seasonal auditor you brought onboard is doing well. Until they stop showing up. Or make an error that puts your team behind schedule and your relationship with a client on the line. Now you get to deal with the fallout. Either you’re back at square one, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding, or you have to dedicate staff to finding an HR solution. Sure, you can cover your bases by blacklisting that employee for future contracts. But their absence still leaves you in the lurch.
Benefits of strategic, seasonal staffing
Through our third-path approach, Makosi addresses these and other common issues with traditional staffing solutions. Through advanced analytics and the experience of over 350,000 billable hours, we’re able to create scalability while ensuring exceptional quality. We’re able to integrate and bring our workforce up to speed in just hours. Plus, we guarantee their work.
Not only do we guarantee their work. But we ensure the candidate we place with your firm will jive with your culture. We interview our candidates for both skills and attitude, selecting only the most driven, passionate, auditing seniors to represent Makosi. Each of our candidates upholds our four core values: innovation, accountability, commitment, and positivity.
Plus, for our candidates, the experience they’ll gain in your office is not just another job. It’s part of a significant life experience that shapes the way they view the world and their role in it.
Strategic staffing for more than just the busy season
With strategic third-path staffing, you can empower your team even outside of the busy season. For example, a flexible talent pool allows you to offer your staff the job security they need to take sabbaticals or parental leave. Without leaving your team understaffed. Flexible talent supports you during unplanned turnover. It allows you to reallocate your full-time talent to empower their professional development. Or it supports you during periods of business growth.
Build a workforce around your in-house needs
As the auditing world continues to evolve, reactive staffing is no longer sufficient. Instead, today’s thought-leaders are looking at how strategic staffing can side-step the hidden costs of traditional staffing solutions. When you work with Makosi, you get passionate, highly skilled professionals backed by our professional coaching team.