As the tax profession continues to develop, developing a firm culture that promotes learning is essential to your continued success. Whether your knee-deep into busy season or want to learn something new throughout the year, it’s best to develop a strategy to choose topics that resonate with your firm’s delivery of services and long-range plan.
Build a Security-Focused Culture
In 2017, a hacker, posing as the CEO of Indiana-based Scotty’s Brewhouse, tricked a payroll employee into emailing approximately 4,000 employee W-2s. While you may be more conscious regarding the best cybersecurity practices, your employees must also be aware of security.
According to a 2019 report by Juniper Research, while company leaders are more vigilant regarding data breaches, many system users have yet to become security conscious. While technology and tools can increase your firm’s cybersecurity, employee training is key. Employees are often the weakest links, even when it comes to enterprise-level security programs. If you want to increase employee engagement and retention, consider Digital Defense’s security training – and it’s fun, too. Digital Defense hired award-winning Hollywood actors to make their security training course entertaining and educational.
Train Employees to be Tech Savvy
Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends listed ongoing learning as the top challenge for organizational leaders and their employees. As technology continues to become interwoven into our professional lives, it’s important to keep your employees on an upward learning curve.
Here are some best practices to ensure your employees stay trained on the latest technology within your firm:
- Make it a priority for your team. Try adding training events to your shared team calendar.
- Tailor training materials and sessions to each employee’s role.
- Ask for employee feedback on training materials. Their feedback is critical to improving and personalizing future training.
Incorporate Standard Operating Procedures
Standardizing your firm’s operations is a key driver in ensuring predictable work, and setting the stage for automated or delegated tasks. Whether you are a sole practitioner, or have five to 50 employees, staying organized, and maintaining consistency in your workflows and processes, will result in less wasted time and greater consistency in deliverables.
For example, you can standardize new employee onboarding by developing templates for each interaction throughout the hiring process. Templated language, interview questions and troubleshooting guides for common technical problems are all great ways to offload the mental burden of hiring, giving you time to focus on knowing how to gain the best talent possible.
Improve Workplace Relations
In 2018, SourceMedia published “Sexual Harassment in the Professional Workplace,” a study based on a survey of more than 3,000 participants across a wide range of professional services, including accounting. This study showed that approximately 63 percent of women and 51 percent of men experienced some form of sexual harassment, with those in financial sectors showing a 22 percent increase in prevalence.
While it isn’t a tax topic, it’s important to ensure that your firm is free from harmful influences, including harassment. Consider adopting a procedure by which employees can anonymously report harassment, while also fostering a culture that promotes open discussion. Ensuring your workplace is free from discrimination is also important. As cases involving gender stereotyping grow in number, being aware of aspects such as your employees’ pronoun preferences will contribute toward a collaborative, secure environment that ultimately builds productivity.
Stay on Top of Changes!
In addition to subscribing to newsletters, there are a number of techniques you can use to stay current. As 2020 approaches, learning and staying on top of changes will continue to be a priority for leading firms. Here are some apps and websites to help:
- Feedly aggregates content about topics relevant to your profession by curating blog posts.
- Quora is a great source for finding questions and answers that are relevant to you and your clients.
- Pocket lets you save articles for offline reading and tagging for easy organization.
Change is constant, so it’s up to you to find your own ways to continuously learn something new. It’s a challenge, but made so much easier thanks to today’s technology. Good luck!