[IMGCAP(1)]I travel quite a bit and have the luxury of seeing a lot of different accounting practices and management styles.

I have also had firsthand observations from inside a public accounting firm for five-plus years before forming my own consulting practice. And one thought that continually comes back to me is the generally poor job we do in this profession at one of the most simple practices a business can do to boost productivity: show appreciation.

Being a facilitator, I spend a lot of my time listening. That’s what a facilitator should do—listen and take in everything and help coach and guide the team based on the little nuggets of information you hear. What I find is that the teams I work with inside a CPA firm are all generally the same:

• They have top-notch rising leaders they put on my process improvement teams—from staff through manager and senior manager.
• They appreciate that someone is actually listening to them and their ideas instead of commanding them what to do in a process.
• They all wish for just one more thing that they aren’t getting out of this profession currently—appreciation.

It’s time for firm management—from managers managing engagements all the way up the partner ladder—begin taking a step back from the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day to think about the effort and commitment a lot of your team members are putting into your firm and for your clients. I believe we’re on the verge of a bigger retention issue than we’ve faced in a while in the next few years. And it’s easy to think “let’s just throw bonuses and some money to get our people to stay” after a couple of years of lackluster salary growth. While that may work in the short-term for another year, there’s another thing you can do to really “lock in” your talent—let them know you care and show some appreciation.

How often do you offer up a “great job” or “I really appreciate the extra effort and time you took go get this job done”? How often do you tell your team members how invaluable they are to the job you’re doing? The more your staff feel this emotional connection and the feeling they are needed by your firm, the more committed they will be. And the more committed they are, the more productive your teams will be.

When people feel unappreciated, they leave your firm. It’s not always about the money.

Dustin Hostetler is the founder of Flowtivity. As a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with extensive experience working inside a large regional CPA firm, he has taken proven techniques from the manufacturing floor and tailored them to bring value to public accounting firms.