Creating Enviable Work Environments Through Exceptional Accountants

Susan Parcells

People are at the heart of innovation at every company. The opportunity to utilize their strengths and know their contributions are valued results in retention, and that creates competitive advantage.

Accounting and finance professionals are crucial to driving strategy and future business growth. But according to a recent BlackLine survey conducted by Censuswide, many midsize and large company decision-makers are not fully leveraging this talent. Manual processes and tedious tasks take up too much time and lead to an uneven workload, long hours, and escalating frustration.

No wonder accountants disengage

Outdated accounting operations in the form of the traditional record-to-report process risk damaging the quality, accuracy, and timeliness of results. Each line on the balance sheet is made up of thousands of underlying transactions, often manually compiled and adjusted by overworked accountants facing pressing deadlines. This is an error-prone process that puts incredible amounts of strain on employees, stifling visibility, scalability, and productivity. Coupling this with legacy technology can make everything about accounting and finance feel outmoded, dulling motivation and causing department-wide dissatisfaction that leads to increased turnover rates.

When nothing about their job actually uses their well-honed skills in analysis, accountants can feel blocked from helping their business think more strategically. All they have time for is the minimum of what is asked of them, and this can be a predictor of churn.

It’s time to proactively reengage

Based on a survey of more than 2,000 hiring decision-makers, Randstad’s 2016 Workplace Trends Guide states that 34% of accounting and finance professionals plan to look for a new job in the next year. “Almost half of F&A decision makers surveyed report that their companies experienced an increase in turnover in 2015, and the majority (67%) is more concerned about expected turnover in 2016.”

An article in the Journal of Accountancy reports evidence of a global effort from CFOs to reduce turnover, and “80% of CFOs in the United States said they were taking steps to improve employee retention.” Finding qualified professionals is a challenge in any job market, and the best solution is to proactively engage your company’s people.

The key to compete for, engage, and retain talent: automation

To unlock the value of your accountants, companies need to automate the tedious, manual accounting work that consumes so much of their time and effort. An automated process that is repeatable, organized, and transparent reduces your exposure to risk and provides confidence in the reporting outcomes. The resulting efficiency and effectiveness free up your accountants to focus on analysis and input, which is the reason they pursued this profession in the first place. This can lead to loving their jobs again, and the increased level of retention and strategic insight will be reflected in your bottom line.

Process automation completes unskilled tasks and enables skilled individuals to provide highly valued strategic services to both their department and the entire organization. Automation frees accountants to be more efficient and effective. It frees them to be exceptional.

For more strategies that make the most of your workplace, see What Your Finance Team Can Learn From Millennials.

This article originally appeared in BlackLine Magazine. It is republished by permission.


Susan Parcells

About Susan Parcells

Susan Parcells, CPA, CGMA, is senior director of Finance Transformation and Product Expert for BlackLine. Throughout her career as both an auditor and various management positions within accounting, Susan recognized that the traditionally manual processes within the financial close were not only inefficient, but often exposed companies to risk. She began to focus on process improvement around the close, helping accounting teams reduce their workload and instead use their analytical skills to focus on other value-added activities, all while enhancing controls around those processes. She now spends her time attending conferences, trade shows, and other venues to educate companies on ways in which they can optimize their financial close processes along with having great control around them. Her greatest passion is helping others, which makes her role at BlackLine a perfect fit.