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Filing for 2021 has been particularly stressful this year, as many tax professionals are still burnt out from last year, which recent report from National Taxpayers Advocate Erin Collins dubbed “the toughest year taxpayers and tax professionals have ever had.”

Employees feel more empowered than ever to take control of their lives and they are reassessing what is truly important to them. After several tough seasons, tax professionals may be inclined to take advantage of the competitive talent market and explore outside opportunities that offer better work-life balance, higher compensation, or a more comprehensive benefits package. To mitigate this, managers and business owners should implement creative retention strategies to make hard-working talent feel appreciated and less inclined to explore new job opportunities.

Here are some future-proof, data-backed tips for revamping your company’s post-tax season retention strategy to keep top talent on staff.

Offer competitive salaries

A competitive salary remains a key priority for talent. This is especially true as rising inflation rates and high gas prices can make employees feel like their current salary doesn’t give them the same value for money. In fact, by LHH Readiness Index 2022a global study of the readiness of financial sector workers for the future of work, financial motivation is the main driver as people prepare for their next opportunity.

If salaries have not been increased recently, now is a good time to consider performance-based salary increases to reward a job well done or even cost-of-living adjustments to account for inflation. Managers and business leaders need to do this proactively and quickly. Don’t wait for employees to ask for a raise. Many may not be willing to wait when they know they have better options elsewhere. This is especially true in places where new pay transparency legislation is being introduced, allowing job seekers to see salary ranges on job postings.

Conventional and unconventional advantages and benefits

Benefits are also an important factor in keeping employees happy. Talent priorities change from year to year as they go through different life events, like starting a family or moving away from the office. Thereafter, it is imperative to regularly review the company’s benefits and make the necessary updates to ensure that they are still adapted to the company’s mission and the changing needs of employees. For example, before the pandemic, perks like catered lunch were attractive; now, two years later, hybrid working arrangements, flexible hours and welfare allowances are gaining popularity.

Career growth and learning opportunities are also vital offerings for employees, especially new entrants to the workforce who have largely missed out on traditional in-person relationship building and learning opportunities due to the pandemic. This lack of connection and training has left some employees feeling stuck or behind in their careers; the above Readiness index revealed that 34% of Gen Z respondents feel like they can’t use their existing skills at work, due to a lack of in-person workplace contact and training opportunities. Employees who don’t feel like their skills are being meaningfully leveraged or who don’t feel supported when it comes to developing their skills are at greater risk of disengagement. Implementing continuing education programs and providing upskilling opportunities can help workers upgrade and feel more confident in their abilities.

Additionally, LHH Recruitment Solutions’ 2022 Compensation and Workforce Trends Survey found that 54% of hiring decision makers turned to developing current employees within their organization. organization as a retention tactic. Employee training goes a long way and can serve your business and its employees well, both for the short-term post-tax period and for the long term.

Other traditional benefits such as increased time off after tax season and bonuses are also important to employees. After putting in long hours and working hard throughout the season, a merit-based bonus can be used to ensure that top performers feel valued. If budgets are tight, extra vacation days or even simple perks like catered meals (or free meals for those working remotely) and gift cards are also great ways to show your appreciation.

The balance between culture and flexibility

A positive and welcoming culture can be the determining factor for employees deciding to stay in their current position or move to a competing company. In fact, 65% of hiring decision makers said they believe employees are attracted to a company because of a good company culture, according to the Compensation and Workforce Trends Survey. Investing in a positive culture can have a significant impact on retention, especially for smaller companies that may not be able to match the exorbitant salaries or signing bonuses offered at larger companies. Especially after the past two difficult years, employees no longer tolerate stressful and unforgiving work environments. If managers create a culture of collaboration, purpose, and work-life balance, employees will feel more compelled to stick around for the long haul.

Flexible working hours are another perk that has gained popularity due to the pandemic. People want to work when, where and how they want. Measuring productivity through traditional metrics, such as hours worked, is slowly becoming less of a barometer of success. Instead, output and results have become more accepted and necessary in some cases. For example, working parents may need to log off or log on at different times to accommodate their children’s schedules. Allowing employees to set and work their own hours not only helps employees create work-life balance, but also signals that they are trustworthy to perform their jobs without constant supervision.

Finally, mental health in the workplace has become an increasingly pressing topic of conversation, not least because of the tumultuous circumstances of the past two years. Mental health impacts job performance and overall employee satisfaction. Empathizing and creating a safe space for employees to have candid conversations about their mental health must become a priority. Companies can demonstrate that mental health is a priority by implementing mental health days, designating time for workers to disconnect and do something for their well-being, and offering flexible working hours that take into account the preferences and needs of employees. Proactively implementing these types of programs will not only help employees recover mentally from a demanding tax season, but also ensure they are ready for the busy season to resume the following year.

Tax season is bound to bring additional work and stress. Yet, by placing more emphasis on the employee experience — from addressing pain points to understanding wants and needs and ensuring a positive work environment — companies can keep top talent on board. of their staff for many tax seasons to come. Amid an ongoing labor shortage, employees matter more than ever; leaders who focus on satisfying their employees will ensure the sustainability of their business in the face of difficult and stressful times.