Today's accounting profession is challenged by the classic high demand/low supply of experienced professionals. In this competitive arena, CPA firms should arm themselves with the following arsenal of 10 ways to recruit and retain qualified accountants:1. Have a well-planned "First Year" program, encompassing an extensive orientation and mentoring policy to build good will between management and new accountants while building better professionals.

2. Offer professional development programs, including overseas exchange programs and on-site CPE-credit courses.

3. Provide your accountants with the latest technologies (e.g., dual monitors to review client data, remote network access and the Internet) to increase efficiency and client service quality.

4. Reduce tax season stress with such amenities as complimentary meals, on-site massages and pre-scheduled weekends off.

5. Treat each accountant as an individual, assessing performance and tailoring their compensation and career development program accordingly.

6. Sponsor wellness initiatives such as free annual flu shots and "health weeks" that offer on-site health screenings.

7. Use incentives to reward initiative for those who take on special projects, secure referrals or new business, and give "above and beyond" performances.

8. Promote a healthy work/life/family balance by offering telecommuting, flex schedules, family picnics, Take Your Children to Work Days, and children's holiday parties, as well as accommodating special time-off requests for family-related activities (i.e., graduations, children's ball games).

9. Spotlight your accounting professionals by positioning them as experts in the local media, highlighting them in newsletters and encouraging their participation in business and professional associations' committees and conference panels.

10. Create an environment where every staff member has a voice and feels part of the team. Establish sound corporate culture policies to promote this atmosphere (e.g., partners' open door policy; regular meetings between senior and new staff members; the promotion of joint participation in community and philanthropic activities; have firm leaders build strong relationships with each of their employees, conveying the message, "You don't have to be a partner to feel like a partner;" and make employees part of the processes).

Robert Micera, SPHR, is the director of human resources at Margolin, Winer & Evens LLP, in Garden City, N.Y.

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