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Rick Telberg

Can Morale Drive Profit?

Many CPAs think so. How does YOUR office rate? Join the study; get the benchmarks.

October 29, 2007
by Rick Telberg/At Large

New workplace research provides some healthy food for thought for CPAs and finance professionals — particularly for managers of firms and accounting departments who are interested in their own profitability and retaining superior employees.

The Gallup Organization reveals that companies with the highest ratio of “engaged” employees are more than twice as profitable as companies with low ratios of engaged employees.

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Moreover, Gallup shows that companies in the top-quartile for employee engagement are 18 percent more productive and 12 percent more profitable than companies in the bottom quartile. That all translates to 2.6 times faster growth in earnings-per-share. But only about 29 percent of employees are actively engaged in their jobs, according to Gallup.

So how does that translate for CPA firms and finance departments?

First, the good news: CPAs say their co-workers are twice as likely to be “committed” or “engaged” than Gallup’s average. In fact, nearly two-thirds (65%) of CPAs joining our study agreed that their firms have committed and motivated professionals.

Of course, the bad news remains: Some 35 percent are not so impressed with their colleagues.

The reasons vary. But many of those who are not pleased with their co-workers’ commitment say that morale is low, and some cite a lack of motivation.

“If I add a new client, they sigh because it is more work for them even though they are under-utilized,” says Robert Dunlop in Windsor, Ontario.

“The staff in my office barely put in their time, are terribly unproductive and morale is low,” says Laura Canales, in Boise, Idaho.

Some of the responses suggest that some firm structures could be partly to blame.

“Our firm is too autocratic and [not] structured to encourage staff engagement and motivation,” says Michael A. Gray, a CPA in Rutherfordton, N.C.

Meanwhile, the majority of CPAs who say that their staff is committed and motivated note several positives about the firm. For example, one respondent says that associates “are constantly asked to get involved with new projects and expanded roles.” They are given “a high level of responsibility and independence,” and employees are compensated “based on what they contribute to the firm.”

Does this mean that employees are either committed or not committed by nature, or is their dedication a product of the firm’s environment? In other words, do those firms that encourage creativity, offer flexible hours when needed and reward those who put in the hard work, in turn, create such gems?

Judging by the responses, it seems firms with committed staffs have helped create a positive workplace environment by encouraging their employees to be creative and to take ownership of projects. Furthermore, such firms reward employees for their efforts. If the team succeeds, everyone succeeds.

RATE YOUR OFFICE: How’s morale in the typical CPA workplace? Rate your office. See what others say.

COMMENTS: Questions, rants or raves? Write Rick Telberg.

Copyright © 2007 Bay Street Group LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

About Rick Telberg

Rick Telberg is editor at large/director of online content.

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Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the AICPA or CPA2Biz. Official AICPA positions are determined through certain specific committee procedures, due process and deliberation.