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Anyone, anywhere, anytime.

As Community Manager at Wagepoint, Bianca Mueller, CPB, PCL works to elevate the importance of payroll education and compliance to set the bar for accountants and accounting service providers across Canada.

Without pointing the finger at the elephant in the room (ahem…pandemic), I think we can all agree that this was a trigger that forced technological change for small business (SME) owners around the world. In order to keep doors open and cash flowing, SMEs have had to find ways to weather economic lockdowns. It didn’t take long for them to realize that it had become a matter of the sink or bathing connect to the cloud.

So, let’s go ahead and assume that your accounting or bookkeeping practice is now running efficiently in the cloud. Every day, you enjoy your morning coffee knowing everyone is working from where it’s comfortable. Customers and staff learned about your new communication and collaboration systems. You’ve solved most of the cloud learning curves and business is running smoothly, right?

What if I asked you this: does tequila make your morning coffee taste better? Not exactly… Employers now have to overcome new hurdles because, guess what, when anyone can work from anywhere and anytime, the job opportunities for employees become endless.

Fintech growth requires digital dexterity

Having previously run my own cloud accounting practice and more recently as a community manager at cloud-based payroll software Wagepoint, not a week goes by that I don’t hear from someone in the accounting community exclaim how difficult it is to find and retain staff. It’s no surprise that since this shift in technology, the conversation echoing across accounting forums and groups now focuses on how to attract accounting professionals…and for the purposes of this article, especially those who are able to work in a remote or cloud-based environment.

Let’s start by defining able. A competent candidate in this case, regardless of field of work or experience, must have a solid understanding of their personal digital dexterity – the ability to adapt to existing and new technologies. Now that you’re a tech-savvy, cloud-based business (YAY!), understanding your staff’s digital dexterity can make or break your business growth. All the book smarts in the world won’t help someone trying to make a career in fintech if they don’t have confidence in their ability to adapt and evolve with the ever-changing tech landscape of fintech software.

Find the needle in the haystack

I recently heard a saying that goes, “If you need to find the needle in a haystack, all you need is a good magnet.” So what kind of magnet does an accounting firm need to attract and retain a cloud-enabled employee?

The real magnet for finding your needle is in your offer! While there are many strategies for attracting talent these days, here are a few ideas (besides salary, that’s a fact!) to help you not only attract candidates, but also retain your employees.

Program

  • Offer a flexible work schedule. Flexible hours allow employees to work when they are least distracted.
  • Provide a flexible/hybrid workplace. Even if you’re cloud-based, some employees may find themselves more productive working away from home.

Equipment

  • Prepare your employees with the right technology and the right equipment.
    • This includes things like laptops, headphones, and access to necessary software, and is also important because it will allow you to manage your team’s security and privacy.
  • Make your employees aware of a healthy and ergonomic work environment and offer suitable equipment. This may include ergonomic chairs, height adjustable desks, etc.

Paid vacation

  • Offer a holiday policy above the industry or jurisdiction standard. The traditional 2 weeks of vacation after a year of work are no longer enough.
  • Offer additional paid time off for sick days, family time, mental health breaks, and more.

Fun for everyone!

  • Create opportunities for in-person events like retreats, dinners, concerts, etc.
  • Remember recognitions and awards. Make sure your employees feel valued and recognize their successes and accomplishments.
  • GARLAND! Show your appreciation for the staff. They will let everyone know how awesome it is to work for you. Word of mouth is your best referral source.

Growth Strategy — Invest in Your People

  • Offer a career growth plan and/or a mentorship program.
  • Offer to pay for certifications and learning opportunities.

I finally understood the secret of cloning. I was beside myself!

All kidding aside, aside from cloning yourself (or your star employee), the first place to start defining your ideal candidate(s) is to define your company culture. If everyone was like you, there would probably be too many chefs in your kitchen…if you know what I mean. Your company culture could be what differentiates you from other opportunities your candidates might consider.

Your corporate culture statement should include things like:

  • The definition of the work environment that you want to promote and develop!
    • Remember to make it obvious and include tech-focused words like “digital,” “cloud tech,” and “transformation” in your description.
  • Your company’s mission statement with a focus on core values ​​and causes.
    • What economic, societal or environmental causes do you care about?
      • Attracting employees who share similar values ​​will promote loyalty.
      • Digital working often promotes a paperless and travel-free environment!
    • Pay special attention to your work ethic.
      • Have a clear statement about diversity and inclusion.

Ultimately, remote work environments require special attention and education regarding time, location, equipment, security, and privacy. When drafting your remote work contracts, it’s a good idea to design a template specific to remote work protocols that can be used across the company, and a separate template for the proposed work. Let’s go over what to include for your remote contracts.

Define remote working arrangements and expectations.

  • What a flexible work schedule means.
    • Are there time restrictions, time zone implications, availability requirements?
  • Are there any implications for where they can work from or how they work?
    • Location restrictions, privacy/VPN protocols, are there any requirements for talking on the phone or being on video?
  • Schedules or time tracking devices.

Remote work tools

  • Specify equipment needs and who will provide what.
  • Identify the main software and applications used.
  • Training requirements.

Remote work policies

  • Privacy and Security Policies
  • Equipment Policies
  • Moving Policies
  • Team collaboration and data sharing policies

Always include tips and examples of work-from-home best practices to help employees adjust to their new role.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) > Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

Before getting into the details of job descriptions, start with the “off-resume” qualities you want to attract. I recommend starting with the four main qualities that emotional intelligence represents.

  • Self-awareness,
  • self management,
  • social awareness and
  • relationship management.

According to Big Think+, “Harnessing the power of emotional intelligence in the workplace can improve both employee performance and operational performance.” So the big takeaway here is that hiring based on higher emotional intelligence as opposed to high IQ could be the foundation for your perfect employee.

Read (or hear) how Wagepoint CEO Shrad Rao harnessed the power of emotional intelligence-based hiring. Blog: Importance of corporate culture.

Find your digital flair

Now that we understand the importance of digital dexterity, have defined our company culture, and recognized the importance of EI-based hiring, you can finally start defining the role. You and I both know that full-cycle accounting is fairly standardized and the functions within it can easily be broken down and defined. Your best bet is to seek out similar roles offered by other accounting firms and get creative. Give it your own digital twist…or better yet, consult an agency to help you market the role. Once you’ve done all the groundwork, listed above, this last step should be pretty easy.

Happy hiring!

As Community Manager at Wagepoint, Bianca strives to elevate the importance of payroll education and compliance to raise the bar for accountants and accounting service providers across Canada.

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