How to solve your firm’s staffing crisis

Cecilia Nysing

Staffing is a major issue facing businesses across the United States. The “quit rate” reached a 20-year high in November 2021. The two main reasons cited in a recent poll indicate 37% of people thought their pay was too low and 33% felt that there were no opportunities for advancement.

The entire debacle has led to many firms failing to solve their staffing crisis.

In my own experience, there have been many things I’ve considered to help fill the gap in staff shortages. First, you need to ask yourself a very important question before going any further. Do you need to hire full-time staff, or should you hire a contractor?

Hiring contractors is on the rise, and 16.5% of businesses had at least one contractor in 2021, up over 32% from the year prior. Contractors make a lot of sense for companies because:

  • Flexibility: Contractors are a good “test” for your needs. You might find you need a full-time employee, and you can always hire a full-time employee in the future if necessary.
  • Lower risk: Working with a contractor poses lower risks with no long-term commitment.
  • Lower cost: Contractors do not receive benefits, own their own devices, and use their own internet, phone and equipment. 
  • Hourly freedom: You can choose how often you need the contractor to work without needing to hire for a 40-hour per week minimum.

Plus, with a contractor, you don’t have to worry about catastrophic departures from your firm. You can replace contractors and continue business operations if they need to go on maternity leave, are in an accident, etc. 
When does hiring full-time make sense?

Hiring full-time may make more sense for you than hiring a contractor. I prefer hiring full-time when:

  • I know I need someone to be a part of the team permanently.
  • The position will offer potential advancement opportunities.
  • I’m scaling a firm quickly and need reliable, full-time employees to help.

When you hire full-time, it should be with a long-term outlook that this individual will bring growth to the firm and also grow with the firm.

However, you need to find the right person for your firm.

Finding the right person

You know you need someone to fill a vital role in your firm, but how do you find them? Competition is fierce, and it seems like most of the good talent is being headhunted by just about every firm out there.

As part of running my firm, I have realized there are so many innovative ways to find the right person that fits with my team. And when I say “right person,” it may not mean the most qualified. Cultural fit is so important in today’s workforce and is something 90% of employers view as being crucial when hiring.

Thankfully, you can find employees to fill your firm’s vacancies through:

Are you allowing employees to work remotely? If so, you can look outside of your geographical location to find highly qualified employees that will fit right into your team.

A contractor is available to help you through the staffing crisis or help you with your part-time needs, but you need to find these individuals. Luckily, there are a lot of great options, such as Fiverr and Upwork. However, you’ll be looking through many profiles and potential candidates.

What I recommend when scouting out contractors is:

  • Look through their ratings and experience to see what others have experienced working with them.
  • Contact the person and try working with them on a small project to see how you like them.
  • Talent can be highly affordable, but try finding the best value for the money. This doesn’t mean finding the cheapest person out there. For example, you might not want to hire someone asking 50% below the average compensation rate. Often, you get what you pay for. 

If you don’t like Fiverr or Upwork, there are numerous other sites, such as Indeed, with very talented accountants, bookkeepers and others waiting for you to reach out to them.
If you don’t mind a little upfront expense, offshore services may be a good option for you. These service providers offer infrastructure, built-in workforces and training to their employees.

The service provider also has backup people in the event that the person you’re working with is out or leaves. You can even ask these offshore services to use your own tech stack.

Social media is a goldmine

Are you using social media to help with the staffing crisis? You should be. You can find contractors and full-time staff on social media. You’ll need to be strategic to find talent. I joined groups for people looking for work and looked for people posting in network groups. You can also post about the opportunity to attract talent. LinkedIn Recruiter offers services for finding full-time employees. 

Whether you’re using social media or other platforms, make sure you have a good qualification process to weed out bad fits for your firm.

Do you have services that clients are requesting but you don’t offer? If so, consider partnering with other firms to help fulfill these services. If you don’t personally know someone at the firm, be sure to check out reviews online and consider requesting references to ensure they provide quality work.

Building a successful relationship with the employee

A lot of work goes into finding employees to fill your business’s needs. You want the talent you worked hard to find to stick around. But how?

  • Offer support for work-from-home employees. 
  • Create an equal environment for remote and permanent workers, ensuring everyone receives the same perks, such as company swag, and is included in meetings.
  • Keep an open line of communication using Slack or other tools.
  • Create a regular meeting schedule to ensure everyone is on the same page and dialed in.
  • Use a modern tech stack that allows your team to communicate and collaborate with clients and manage workflows and expectations.
  • Provide employees and contractors with the necessary tools to complete their jobs.
  • Ensure your workers know what success looks like within their role 

At my firm, I always offered paid time for my employees and contractors for continuing education. You want your workforce to be the best, and continuing education ensures they stay top-tier talent.
Getting through the staffing crisis is a learning process, but these are the steps I used when growing my firm before selling it and when building ClientHub. If you keep your team happy, encourage them to grow, and offer advancement, you’ll retain and even attract talent to your firm organically.

https://www.accountingtoday.com/opinion/how-to-solve-your-firms-staffing-crisis

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