Jennifer Wilson

Engage Your Staff

Ten strategies show you how to re-recruit your team members.

August 22, 2011
by Jennifer Wilson

When the economy declined, most U.S. companies looked for ways to reduce costs, trim fat and eliminate waste. I applauded (and assisted with) those efforts and know that much of the retooling was necessary and, in some cases, long overdue.

During this same time, though, I cautioned leaders to avoid dismantling their vital people programs because the time would come when public accounting professionals would have plenty of other options and the confidence to pursue them. According to preliminary data from the soon-to-be published 2011 PCPS Top Talent Survey, two out of three (61%) of the profession’s star performers are open to other options beyond their current position. And, based on all that I am hearing and seeing around the country that big wave of “pent up” voluntary turnover may be headed your way soon.

What Can You Do to Ensure That Your Best and Brightest Are Engaged?

How can you retain your top talent when competitors come? One way is to simply re-recruit them!

Various surveys indicate that you will spend from one-and-a-half times to two times someone’s salary to replace them. So, why let them leave? Re-recruiting is all about engaging your existing team members with the same zeal and passion that you would a super-star recruit, with the intention to keep them “sold” on their decision to build their career with your firm.

Here are 10 strategies on how to re-recruit your team members and keep them engaged:

  1. Recognize them. If you are a senior leader or part of your firm’s management team, consider having someone develop a digital book that includes everyone’s picture, name and brief biography. No matter how many people are in your firm, work to know as many of them as possible by name and on sight. When you see them in the hall, at the employee lounge or in the elevator, say hello, address them by name and begin to get to know them.
  2. Talk to them. Managers and mentors should ensure that your best people are being touched regularly by e-mails, phone calls and face-to-face meetings. Senior leaders in your firm should get “out and about” and connect with key people via lunch or coffee.
  3. Know them. Find out each person’s driving motivators and learn what they most want to achieve in their career and in their personal life. Regularly ask what more the firm can do to support them in achieving their life’s goals and then construct plans to do so.
  4. Invest in them. One of the highest compliments you can pay your employees is to spend time with them. Take them along on sales calls, to conferences or meeting with key clients or referral sources. Allow them the privilege of shadowing work at higher levels so they can envision what’s possible and learn new skills as well. Invest more training per person than your competitors and include soft-skills education at every level, including administrative staff.
  5. Take risks with them. Offer your best and brightest the opportunity to take on projects that may be just beyond their current capacity. Intentionally stretch them with the assignments you give. Allow them to make mistakes and struggle a little, while they grow into their new skill level, letting them know that you expect some bumps in the road.
  6. Change for them. Understand the needs of the changing demographic in your firm. Recognize that the needs of today’s up-and-comers are different from when you came up. Give up your “old school” notions of how it should be and manage your organization based on the way that it is, which means developing new programs and embracing diversity, work-from-anywhere programs and more.
  7. Remind them. Spotlight your firm’s best people programs in your firm’s internal newsletter, in staff meetings or in other communications. Remind your employees what makes your firm special, unique and different and regularly market important benefits to your team members. Don’t assume they know or will remember what you offer.
  8. Entertain them. Younger generations are most engaged when they feel a part of a team at work. Make sure your staff have opportunities to bond with their teammates and purposefully engage in team-building activities and corporate fun. Encourage professional friendships through firm-sponsored social and community activities.
  9. Thank them. Acknowledge great work with gratitude both verbally and monetarily. Be sure your performers feel your appreciation and respect for their contributions. See Engage Your People by Being Grateful for a list of “thank you” ideas and some things to avoid.
  10. Learn more about engaging them. Attend conferences and CPE courses about people engagement, generational motivators, flexible work programs and more. One upcoming program on the subject of employee engagement is this year’s AICPA PCPS Human Capital Forum in New Orleans in October.


Don’t wait until you feel the painful pinch of turnover before getting into the engagement game. Use these 10 strategies today to protect your most valuable resource — your firm’s talent!

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Jennifer Wilson is a partner and co-founder of ConvergenceCoaching, LLC, a leadership and marketing consulting and coaching firm that specializes in helping CPA and IT firms achieve success.