3 min read

Nurturing Your Top Asset

7/16/20 9:00 AM

Cheers! Normally we raise this glass on April 16, but 2020 has been an extraordinary year and celebrating this milestone, though in July, is more important than ever. Taking a moment to celebrate our accomplishments is uplifting and motivating, something that benefits us all.

Yes, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been extended, the next tax deadline is a few months away, and there is plenty of work left to complete while we await data from clients, pivoted to focus on stimulus compliance or dealt with businesses that paused or shuttered operations. But before we put our heads back down, let’s take a moment to ensure we are recharging and investing in our most valuable asset, our people.

Employee burnout is a real concern for the profession. As leaders, we need to look at what it will take to mentally revive our talent, how can we empower them with the knowledge they need for the “next normal,” and inspire them to be part of a future-ready organization. Rather than a one size fits all motivation and reward system, I suggest you take the time and listen to what matters to them.

Motivation

When was the last time you asked your team what motivates them? If it has been more than six months, it is time to ask again. Professional motivators will change over time due to aging, career path, and socio-economic circumstances. There have been enough shifts in the last three months it is time to recheck in with your team to find what matters most to them now.

ConvergenceCoaching has adapted a list of nine professional motivators from the Journal of Career Planning and Employment that breaks down what matters to your employees. Start the motivation discussion by sharing this list with your teams and ask them to rank them in order of importance. This feedback will help design initiatives to provide effective motivation for your talent. The mere act of truly listening is also a great motivator.

Investment

As part of the celebration, we need to show our appreciation for the accountability and integrity our teams have demonstrated over the last several months. Take a look at the results of the motivation survey to give you insights into the programs you can develop or embellish.

Without question we all need a break periodically. Not only are we exhausted from the hours and the workload, but we are mentally fatigued by the constant state of change and fear for our families and colleagues. Closing the whole organization for a week this summer might not be an option, but have you considered a flex time policy appropriate for this new norm we work in? Some businesses leverage half-day Fridays, an extended Labor Day weekend, or a rotating schedule so everyone can take a few days off.

Many workers are feeling compelled to contribute in new ways, holed up in their homes on conference calls, or are working hard to keep pace while prioritizing professional and personal commitments. It is important to encourage some balance between work and personal time to ensure they maintain the energy, focus, and productivity.

Make sure they know its OK to take PTO, not just to relax, but also to help minimize the potential for large-scale burnout. Taking PTO can help employees prepare for the next impending surge of work prior to a deadline. Do the planning now, show your appreciation for all their efforts, and get your team recharged before they are completely burned out. This includes our leadership team; we need to set an example.

Recognize the staff who went above and beyond. Offer positive feedback and acknowledge their efforts. Review what their top motivators are, and discuss career path opportunities, a bonus, or extra paid time off. Invest in leadership training and skills to prepare them for the next step in their career.

The trusted business advisor is a role that has been growing in demand, and the events of 2020 put a spotlight on how well accounting professionals fill that role. Not all staff are equipped with the skills to be the best advisor yet. Investing in building these skills will create tremendous ROI for your firm, and demonstrate the confidence and trust you are placing in them.

Our people make our organizations the successes that they are, and if we don’t take care of them, we can’t serve our clients. It is time to refresh, refocus, and reconnect. Set aside time this summer to listen to your teams and show them generosity for the work they have been delivering. The role of the professional accountant is in high demand, treat yourself and your team with that value in mind.

Mike Sabbatis

Written by Mike Sabbatis

Mike Sabbatis is XCM's CEO. He has extensive experience leading fast-paced, customer-focused organizations leveraging innovative, forward-looking technologies that disrupt the norm while sustaining long-term profitable growth. He has led and inspired global teams comprised of more than 2,500 employees, as well as divisional start-ups and joint ventures.