The Great Rejuvenation Part 2 - Quick wins to attract and retain the best talent

Stopping all of the things that don’t work, and starting all of the things that do work doesn’t involve a project team and 18 months of effort. The change can be achieved much quicker than you may think, and with far less pain.

Tom Boyd
Wellbeing & Growth Leader

Quick wins to attract and retain the best talent

The title ‘The Great Resignation’ is relatively self explanatory, but in reality it describes a potential movement that has not yet begun and certainly does not describe what the problems are, nor what firms can do to combat it. In a way, it could end up being somewhat of a fad, or buzzword, something that is talked about far more than it exists in reality. That being said, with the Accounting Industry already under enormous pressure, the sheer possibility of a mass exodus on the workforce is a terrifying prospect to Employers. 

Yet even with this in mind, many organizations are frozen by this fear, causing them to be change averse, and in many cases simply giving people wage increases in the hope they will stay. A recent Josh Bersin study commissioned by Microsoft looked at 1400 companies in September last year and went in depth as to how to become the ‘Irresistible Organization’. In some cases, Everperform clients are well on the way to our version of the ‘Irresistible Organization’ which we call the Firm of the Future, yet in others, some are just beginning their journey and are looking for quick things they can do to improve their Employee Experience, to retain and attract their best talent, which we know is the prerequisite to growing their business. 

Firstly, let's begin with what does not work when it comes to employee attraction

  • Pay rises alone: In fact, Bersin's study found that ‘Money won't make up for a poor work environment. People will either leave or, arguably even worse, check out and ‘leave in place.’

  • Token efforts at Wellbeing: as one participant put it ‘After a 60-hour work week you want me to go to a yoga class? Give me a break.’

  • Not prioritizing your people: the study found companies with ‘Very Low’ HR skills NEVER outperform their peers in revenue growth.

This clearly is not all of the challenges, add in the feeling that many of us had when working remotely that we were ‘living at work’ as opposed to ‘working from home’ amongst the psychological stresses of the pandemic and the rhetoric we hear from accountants every day that they have become ‘counsellors’ to their clients and it makes for a precarious situation. 

However, there are many things that can be done to improve the overall Wellbeing of your workplace and your people, but when it comes to driving business outcomes Bersin found that the number one thing was listening to their people, and acting on the results. 

So, what does work?

  • Show your people you care: being an authentic leader includes showing your own vulnerabilities at times and not being afraid to show that you are human with your own set of challenges and triumphs. This comes in different ways for different leaders, being able to connect with your people on a human level is a great enabler. 

  • Get an accurate baseline of where you and your firm is at today: if you want to improve the retention and attractiveness of your firm, you need to measure where it is at right now. Doing this across the 3 key dimensions of Performance (Relationships, Wellbeing, Productivity) will then provide the insights to help focus on the areas that really matter, and monitor the improvement over time. The baseline measures can be seen in the Performance Hub

  • Ask your people about the things that matter to them: The Relationship category on the Everperform Performance Hub hit an all time low in October, 2021, showing that people are not as satisfied with their relationships with managers and colleagues. 

  • Have meaningful conversations beyond the topic of ‘getting the job done’: This doesn’t need to be time consuming, leveraging Everperform to ask the right questions at Power Tynan led to a decrease in management time by 82%. 

  • Leverage the data you already have: Analysing the data you have on your people can give you great insight into where they are spending their time, whether they are improving, and who your best performers actually are. 

  • Personalise development with micro learning: Every person is different, personalizing their development with Everperform partners such as Go1 can increase their capability whilst driving a sense of fulfillment and purpose.

Everperform as a platform is capable of many things, but at its core it’s built on measurement, to give the ability to make data driven decisions. The journey with our clients often begins by regularly asking questions of their staff surrounding the core categories of Wellbeing, Relationships and Productivity. These questions are sent out weekly in the form of ‘Pulses’ and take no longer than 45 seconds to complete, with regular data, we can trend how people are thinking and feeling over time. In doing so, we often validate leaders' interpretations of how people are going, but equally, we also often shed light on the fact that what they thought was true, wasn't true at all. This can extend to breaking down people by role, location or team, but at the core of it is the ability to really know what is going on with your people in real time. 

But there are questions that often get posed to us, particularly when it comes to our Wellbeing-Led Performance offering: 

‘Do people actually answer the questions, and if so honestly?’ 

In short, the answer is yes. We have a 72% response rate on our pulses and with regards to whether people tell the truth, we find that they are much more likely to use our platform than be comfortable sitting down with their manager and being asked the same group of questions. 

Our experience at Everperform, is reinforced by Bersin’s study, which found that a staggering ‘68% of people would prefer to talk to a robot instead of their manager regarding stress or anxiety at work because they are seen as judgement free’. Yet, high compliance rates over long periods of time are driven in part by the actions taken by leaders on the results that the platform produces, listening and acting upon what you are told is the key. 

A real life example comes from one of our clients in Toowoomba, Power Tynan, led by CEO Amanda Kenafake. In a recent discussion with Amanda, she described a period of time where her staff seemed to be labouring, tired, fatigued and burnt out. With the background of Everperform she confirmed what her senses were telling her, seeing the drop in user ratings, and decided to give an impromptu 3 day weekend to give her people time to recover. Ongoingly, employees at Power Tynan also have access to ‘Recharge Days’ which can be used at the employee's discretion, interestingly, it led to a decrease in ‘sick-days’ across the business.

“By starting to measure the confidence of their people, they (Power Tynan) improved it by 8% firm-wide within 90 days. In the same time period, they exceeded their expected billings by 18%. This is a classic example of focusing on the input and letting the scoreboard look after itself. 

In parallel, the average time a manager was spending with their employees for their regular 1:1s went from 60 minutes down to 11 minutes. And we all know how good it feels to get time back in your day!” Everperform CEO Daniel Spitty

Multiple firms have used Everperform to run data driven wellbeing sessions over a number of weeks, for either their entire business, their directors or individual teams or offices. With the weekly pulse data, the wellbeing sessions address the real challenges people are having, rather than taking a generic look at the topic. Bersins study found this to be most effective, companies that had  ‘wellbeing programs to help employees deal with ambiguity and uncertainty are more than five times more likely to have outstanding business, people, and innovation outcomes.’

There are even more simple forms of listening and then acting, some firms have deployed Everperform to gauge employee sentiment about returning to the office, some have uncovered employees who were severely struggling and been able to support them through tough periods of time. Some clients leverage Everperforms analytics of time data, determining where people are spending their time, productivity percentages amongst hundreds of other measures uploaded daily. 

Stopping all of the things that don’t work, and starting all of the things that do work can be achieved much quicker than you may think, and with far less pain. The change from being a firm that does none of these things, to one that does all of them doesn’t involve a project team and 18 months of effort, however, it does involve taking the first step and can be as simple as leveraging Everperform to ask people how they are thinking and feeling. And that is a firm where the best talent will continue to thrive. 

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