The last 12 months have disappeared in a flurry of uncertainty, unexpected ups and downs and a new, rather turbulent, ‘normal’. But, we’ve made it to the end of the year, and now it’s time to focus on how we can make 2022 as successful as possible.
In the accounting industry, December marks a busy month with self-assessments and quarterly/annual financial reports due. However, it’s vital to put time aside to ensure that you, your employees and clients are on the same page in the new year.
In this article, we’ve rounded up all the steps you can take this festive season to prepare for the future and reflect on the past.
The end of the year is the perfect time to reconnect with old clients and touch base with existing ones to keep your firm fresh on their minds and maintain a loyal base. It can be as simple as sending out a Christmas card or a festive marketing campaign.
You can also use the end of the year as an opportunity to get feedback from your clients. Gathering insights from your clientele is simple using platforms like Google Forms and SurveyMonkey, which can be emailed directly to your database with just a few clicks.
If you want to go big, you could also throw a dinner party for your team and clients to engage with them in person. However, with the pandemic still lingering on, it may be safer to celebrate in a more virtual setting.
Even the smallest teams can benefit from an effective end-of-year performance review. Not only is it beneficial for employees to understand how they’re progressing and where they can improve, but it’s also a great way of keeping employees engaged with the business.
In the midst of a talent exodus, employers need to focus on keeping their staff motivated and interested.
There are three important steps to any effective performance review:
- Start the meeting on a positive note by highlighting the employee’s achievements and strengths.
- Then, discuss the areas that need improvement.
- Finally, end the conversation by setting new goals and challenges that they can work towards in the new year. Without anything to work towards, engagement levels can diminish, resulting in less satisfied employees.
Remember, after the end-of-year review, employees should go away feeling motivated — not deflated from an influx of criticism.
After the performance review, forward-thinking accounting firms may want to ask employees for feedback. Although clients are the lifeblood of any firm, employees are the organs that keep everything running smoothly. When they’re not happy, the overall productivity levels in the firm drop and motivation plummets.
By asking employees how they feel about the direction of the firm, their role within it and their suggestions for improvement, you involve them in the bigger picture, making them feel valued. These employee insights will then feed into how the company will progress and shape the company goals for the new year — which leads us on to our next point.
After reflecting on the past year’s company performance and employee feedback, it’s important to set new goals to ensure that the business keeps moving forward in a direction that everyone is satisfied with.
When setting goals, remember that they need to be attainable and realistic. Otherwise, it will set the whole company up for failure.
Here are a few examples of goals that accounting firms could implement:
- Carve out a niche
- Invest more in professional development and upskilling
- Refresh the firm’s website
- Move over to the cloud
- Broaden the offering to include added-value services
Consider re-evaluating these company goals every quarter to ensure targets are being met.
Accounting professionals are especially vulnerable to cyber-attacks because they deal with finances and handle sensitive client data. In other words, CPAs are the gatekeepers to a wealth of personal information that cybercriminals can use for their own gain.
It’s, therefore, vital to stay on the ball in terms of cyber security. Before the new year, consider reviewing your processes and updating security measures to keep hackers out.
For example, why not take some time to update passwords. You can use a secure password manager like LastPass to keep things simple. Following this, back up all your data — it’s the only way to retrieve it if it’s ever lost. These simple steps can prevent a cybersecurity issue from becoming a disaster.
It’s important to reflect on the year — particularly one as difficult as 2021 — and celebrate the various accomplishments to set the tone for the months ahead. A great way to get off on the right foot is to hold an end-of-year party (either virtually or in-person, depending on what your staff are comfortable with), where the firm’s wins take centre stage.
Not only does communicating these achievements end the year on a positive note, but it’s also essential for keeping employees in the loop as to how the firm is doing and their impact on the company. In doing so, firm leaders give workers a sense of ownership, making them more engaged and productive.
Enter the New Year with INAA by Your Side
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