3 tips to staff smarter, not harder this tax season
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3 tips to staff smarter, not harder this tax season

Mar 05, 2023 · 3 min read · AICPA & CIMA Insights Blog

Many CPA firms need staffing help, but tax season presents a unique challenge: hiring enough people to handle the extra work. As more firms adopt remote work, traditional staffing methods may no longer function as they did before.

Thankfully, there are ways to deal with your staffing problems this tax season. Some strategies include adopting remote or hybrid work environments, outsourcing talent or tasks and effectively retaining employees.

With these three strategies, you can ensure your firm has enough people to handle this tax season.

1. Cultivate flexible and inclusive work settings.

Remote and hybrid work environments have made it possible for you and CPA firms to hire more people without buying more office space.

In a recent Zoom session, we asked a few tax accountants about their experience with staffing issues, such as making a more cohesive culture using remote or hybrid workplaces.

Kelly Rohrs, CPA, who runs her own firm, said that maintaining her practice entirely online is like a dream and provides her with more possibilities for hiring. She arranges weekly office meetings and chats with her employees about nonwork topics to keep them engaged and connected.

Chris Wittich, CPA, a partner with Boyum Barenscheer, agreed that having department meetings regularly can build community. He also suggested screen-sharing for one-on-one training and recording sessions for onboarding.

CPAs often hire remotely, which allows them to cast a wider net to hire more quickly and reduce recruitment costs. You can develop your firm swiftly without extensive staffing expenses or local constraints.

2. Outsource talent and tasks.

Outsourcing is also becoming more popular among CPAs because it helps you save money while still having access to top-notch professionals.

After receiving several tax-season referrals, Rohrs needed to hire additional staff. She said that you can be creative when looking for employees and find flexible team members instead of high-level specialists. She hired local mothers to undertake general duties, adding that new parents often struggle to re-enter the workforce.

Wittich worked with an employment agency to hire a bookkeeper based in India and preparers for 401(k) audits. He said that after they completed training, they felt like part of the team and that they were pleased.

Hiring talent based in a different country may not be the best solution for everyone.

Chet Buchman, CPA, CGMA, managing partner with Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd, LLC, mentioned in the Zoom session that his Kansas firm doesn’t hire offshore team members. Instead, his firm recruits seasonal administrative, tax and audit interns. He advised coming up with creative assignments and keeping tabs on what the interns have already completed.

Hiring seasonal employees can help with tax-season staffing and allows you to use additional professionals while focusing on your team’s strengths without the costs and risks of adding more full-time team members.

3. Retain reliable talent.

During this tax season, CPA firms need reliable employees. When you have trustworthy team members, you can be sure that your team will finish the work well and on time.

Wittich said you should care for hardworking employees by paying attention to their needs. He mentioned the importance of putting team members first by building a sense of community — asking what works, what should be changed and what makes the job the most fun.

Rohrs suggested seeing team members in person at least once a year to get to know them. She hosts a three-day seminar and rewards her staff with lunch or gift cards.

By taking the time to look at your current staffing needs and plans for future growth, you can retain dedicated staff and understand the competency gaps you need to fill when hiring new employees.

Wittich, speaking to the importance of prioritizing staffing concerns, said: “If staffing is the No. 1 issue, I would really encourage you to set aside time to address it. Because it’s a constant struggle, and you know it takes time to [train] and get better ... you really have to set aside the time and prioritize it.”

Rohrs explained how approaching hiring issues with an open mind is beneficial: “The way that staffing has always been done is not sustainable. Keeping up with the times, [we] have to think outside of the box ... Keep your options open and learn what other people are doing.”

By taking care of staffing needs, you can ensure that your firm is ready for any challenges that may arise this tax season and in the future.

Read more about addressing staffing issues and enjoy the full discussion from Rohrs, Wittich and Buchman in the “Reimagining Your Tax Practice: Rethinking Staffing” Zoom video.

William Carter Jr., M.F.A.

William Carter Jr. is a content writer at AICPA & CIMA, together as the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

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