Only 16 percent of Millennials see themselves with their current employers a decade from now, according to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey,.

What many people don’t realize is that the best firms actually expect turnover and prepare for it. Where firms struggle with retention is in losing talented individuals who have relevant experience, significant training and the aptitude to become partner. Therefore, the real key to understanding and improving retention is focusing on why top talent in the field is leaving and what firms should be doing to keep them in the profession.

Why are they leaving?

Today, young CPA talent is motivated by meaning, thrives on professional development, and, above all else, values flexibility without stigma. This younger generation is less likely to stay married to one company or position, unlike the Baby Boomers or Gen Xers before them. Therefore, the general mindset for career trajectory has drastically changed the definition of personal and professional success. Many individuals at this juncture in their career will consider options and often leave public accounting to work for former clients or other organizations that can offer better hours and a more consistent place to call home, and that partake in corporate social responsibility.

In addition, they’re looking to diversify their skill sets early on in their careers to gain the experience and professional development required to have the luxury of options down the line. Younger employees are comfortable with working for several or more employers in their lifetime to cultivate diverse and well-rounded skill sets, making themselves more attractive to different industries and organizations.

The five steps :

There are several ways firms can proactively combat the loss of top talent in public accounting and ensure that they reflect young professionals’ values; among them:

1. Employee wellness programs. Millennials are concerned with taking care of themselves mentally, emotionally and physically. Firms that offer employee wellness programs in the form of emergency daycare, gym memberships or counseling sessions not only reduce stress and increase productivity among staff, but also show they care.

2. Positive initiatives. Millennials are motivated by meaning, in both their daily tasks and in what their firm represents. Therefore, it’s important that firms partake in unique and positive initiatives that demonstrate social corporate responsibility and other programs that address the issues that Millennials are passionate about, such as advancing and retaining women in the profession.

3. Work/life balance. There is a constant shift in work flexibility among firms, and much of that has to do with Millennials’ preferences. Better parental leave, work-from-home policies, removing limitations on paid time-off and flexible working hours are important to Millennials. More and more firms are implementing a delicate balance that gives their staff this flexibility without leaving their clients by the wayside.

4. Professional development. How much a firm invests in its employees determines how much its employees will invest their work back into the firm. Therefore, offering professional development and training is crucial. As we know, Millennials are ambitious workers who want to climb the corporate ladder quickly and earlier on in their careers. Providing them with the ability to learn, improve, and home in on an area of expertise will be beneficial for both parties.

5. Brand ambassadors. No matter the size or resources, every firm can afford to show their staff appreciation by acknowledging their work and investing in them as an essential piece of the business. This way, when employees are being recruited by clients, they’ll continue to be brand ambassadors for their firm not simply because they worked there, but because they truly valued their experience and the firm’s mission and goals. Firms will continue to maintain or even grow their client base, and some of their top talent may even return to work for them with even more experience and the aptitude to make partner.

The key to understanding and improving retention in the profession is knowing where and how to invest in top talent to make public accounting more appealing. By offering stability, a clear growth trajectory, benefits, and development of unique skill sets, firms will not only increase employee retention, but see overall return on investment in the form of client retention and brand loyalty.

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