Creating career paths for your staff in a small firm

Creating career paths for your staff in a small firm

As a small business owner of an accounting firm and tech startup, I’ve hired multiple young professionals who were just starting out in their career. I’m aware that hiring young staff can be risky, but what I’ve noticed is I’m able to help them progress in their career and develop various skills because of the smaller setting of my companies. However, it’s important to help them grow as professionals – and as people, too. Here are several tips on how to do both in a small firm setting.

Valuing work-life balance

Something I’ve been passionate about for many years is work-life balance. When I got my health in check and made sure I had time for work and life, I wanted my employees to have that opportunity as well. So, at BaCo Group, we’re adamant about working only 40 hours a week and taking vacations, and we teach this to our new hires who are young professionals. When they log personal time off or PTO, we make sure they’re able to take that time without distractions from work. That includes not giving out their personal number to clients, and turning off email and Slack notifications. We also like to make sure our young employees are able to make it out of the office by 5 p.m., so they know the value of work-life balance, and carry it with them throughout their career. Valuing work-life balance has prevented burnout for myself and my young employees, leaving us all wanting to learn more and progress in our careers.

Creating opportunities

Managing two small companies is no easy task, but since they are different types of companies, I’m able to create opportunities for the young professionals in the office to develop their skills and progress in their careers. For example, we have a tax services associate who will be able to travel with us this fall to multiple accounting conferences. This will give her the opportunity to develop her skills in event planning, networking, and selling. We have opportunities like this come up plenty in a small company because each employee wears a lot of hats. So, when it seems like it could be difficult to get experience in a small firm, it’s actually the opposite; we need everyone’s help in different areas to keep things running smoothly.

Know your team’s strengths and weaknesses

We use two personality and strength tests at our firm that allow us to get a good picture of how our team is structured and how we will work together: Kolbe and the DiSC profile. We don’t operate in a way that only hires certain results; instead, we use these tools to find out where our “holes” may be as a team and how we can cover them. In addition, the tools help us see how we differ as workers and allow us to have a greater understanding of where our strengths lie. This is key with my young team because it allows me to have a dialogue with them about other areas of interest in in our firm, and opens up more opportunities for them to grow.

Investing in young staff increases retention

According to a survey conducted by Microsoft, 41% of workers are considering leaving their job. Almost half of the workforce considering a change, and the majority of those considering a change are represented by younger staff. These numbers show how important it is for all of us, especially those in small firms, to invest in young professionals’ careers and development. In the wake of the pandemic, it’s now more important than ever to reconsider your efforts around how you are developing and caring for younger staff. The more people enjoy and are satisfied with their jobs, and feel like they’re gaining valuable experience and skills, the more likely they are to stay at their jobs.

So, you can see that by investing in young staff, you can increase your employee retention rates. Here are a few other good reasons to invest in your young staff:

  • It attracts great employees.
  • It boosts employer reputation.
  • It increases innovation and performance.
  • It allows upward mobility for promotable employees.
  • It encourages looking forward.

I’ve seen firsthand how valuable it can be to invest in young staff, so I can’t encourage you enough to pay attention to your young professionals, give them opportunities, teach them to value balance in their lives, and help them progress in their careers. They might not stay at your company forever, but the work they can provide you when you pay attention to them is invaluable.

Celebrate your young staff’s growth

I have owned my own firm now for more than two decades, and one of the hardest things for me, still, is when a team member leaves. We have always been a relatively small firm – at our largest, we’ve been 20 people, and in that environment, you can’t help but get close to your team and get to know them. I not only have seen so many people grow professionally, but personally as well, and so when one of those people leaves, it stings. This is something many small business owners struggle with – the people we invest time and resources in leave, and we can’t get that back.

It’s hard, but what I have learned is that it is important to celebrate growth in individuals, and if it leads them to a new opportunity, then that is not only good for them, but also a reflection of how they have been able to grow within your own firm.