The Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2016

The Fiscal Times is pointing to numerous workplace trends that they say spell positive changes for workers in 2016.

The top 10 trends:

  1. Compensation includes more than salary. Most companies are giving out average salary increases of merely 3%, but companies are offering better benefits. “Benefits and perks do carry a monetary value as well as an emotional value,” says Scott Dobroski, a career trends analyst at Glassdoor. “These are all part of the compensation equation now, where five or 10 years ago it was just about salary.”
  2. Student loan assistance is hot. It’s still a trend in its infancy, but employers are beginning to help employees pay off student loans. PwC, for example, is giving workers up to $1,200 a year to put toward their loans.
  3. Recruiters are finding employees via social networks. A recent LinkedIn report found that 43% of hiring managers use professional social networks to find quality employers, making them the top source, just edging out online job boards, The Fiscal Times reported.
  4. The gig economy continues to grow. A growing number of white-collar workers are working as contractors in roles that offer more flexibility but less security and benefits. A third of American workers freelanced last year, with 60% of freelancers doing so by choice, according to new study by Upwork.
  5. Millennials move into management. Millennials now make up more than a third of the American workforce, overtaking Baby Boomers as the largest age cohort in the workplace.
  6. Focus on financial planning. Companies are realizing that it’s no longer enough to just offer 401(k) plans, they also have to teach their employees how to make the best use of their financial benefits. A quarter of today’s workers say their biggest financial worry is keeping up with monthly expenses. “We have learned that financial stress at home creates a productivity drag in the workplace,” says Betsy Dill, a senior partner at Mercer.
  7. Companies welcome back ‘boomerang’ workers. Companies are increasingly doing away with policies that ban hiring former employees. More than half of hiring managers say they give high priority to job applicants who formerly worked for the company and left in good standing.
  8. Wellness embraces wearables. Companies will continue to expand wellness programs in 2016 as a means of keeping employees healthy and reducing their overall health care costs. Now, they’re using wearable fitness trackers to boost their programs, with more companies subsidizing the costs of the gadgets and helping employees use them.
  9. ‘Hotel desks’ go mainstream. It’s been years since companies began doing away with offices and cubicles in favor of “open concept” offices layouts. Now, companies are eliminating assigned desks altogether to lower real estate costs and efficiently make use of desks as more employees stay out of the office altogether. “Because more people are working remotely, when they do come in, they don’t necessarily have a home base,” says Vicki Salemi, a career expert with Monster.com.
  10. Parental leave is getting more generous. Paid benefits for parents – both mothers and fathers – in America continues to lag the rest of the world, but as millennials become parents they’re starting to demand (and receive) paid parental leave after having or adopting a child. Paternity leave, in particular, is getting renewed attention, thanks to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to take two months off from his company following the birth of his daughter.

Business Organizations Join to Comment on SEC Modernization Initiative

The Center for Audit Quality and three business and financial policy organizations have commented on ways to modernize online company filings with the SEC.

The SEC is seeking input on how to improve financial disclosure, including ways to improve its EDGAR system of company filings. The Center for Audit Quality joined with the Business Roundtable, Financial Executives International and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness to make numerous recommendations. The comment letter focuses on two phases of improvements: consolidating and updating current EDGAR search features by improving their visibility and organization, then making improvements to the company search page, filings detail screen and output functionality.

People at the Center of CPA Firm 2015 Top Issues

The CPA Consultants’ Alliance (CPACA), a group of thought leaders working together to further leadership within the CPA profession, recently held its annual meeting to discuss the most pressing leadership challenges facing the CPA profession and identify solutions to address these challenges.  Following the meeting, CPACA members were asked to comment on the single most important insight and its effect on firms in 2015. Their answers follow:

Angie Grissom

Angie Grissom

Angie Grissom, The Rainmaker Companies, www.therainmakercompanies.com

Firms are moving into dangerous territory when it comes to retaining and recruiting talented team members. If an effort is made to re-examine the way to train, develop and nurture the talent, firms will profit. If this is not a priority, firms could lose team members and lose out on big opportunities. The messaging and tone for the culture comes from the top, and it is increasingly important that firm leaders invest in future leaders and let them know that their opinions matter. It is also important that firm leaders work to create an attractive opportunity for them that rivals industry and competing firms.

Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk, bbr marketing, www.bbrmarketing.com

Bonnie Buol Ruszczsyk

Bonnie Buol Ruszczsyk

It seems that the CPA profession is at a tipping point. More and more firms are faced with the challenge of making difficult decisions about their future – do we merge with another firm, do we identify and train the next generation of leaders or do we simply continue doing what we have all along? Those that go with the third option are discovering that it’s not a plan for long-term survival, let along growth. Many firms are seeing their best and brightest move on to other firms or to corporate positions since they have grown tired of waiting to be tapped for a partner track. Others that are staying are often less invested in the firm and simply doing a job and collecting a paycheck. I expect that in 2015 we will see even more mergers, but we will also see some decide that it is time to make some changes and focus on succession planning and strategic growth to ensure that the firm survives and the legacy is carried on for future generations.

Carrie Steffen

Carrie Steffen

Carrie Steffen, The Whetstone Group, www.thewhetstonegroup.com

CPA firms are on an unprecedented trajectory as existing firm leaders prepare to exit the profession and the next generation prepares to take the reins. Firms that are taking a proactive approach to developing the future leaders in their firms will have a distinct competitive advantage. In conjunction with identifying these up-and-comers is a new focus on firm stewardship and culture transformation. Firm stewardship is the pledge new leaders in the firm make when they assume the responsibility of accepting the firm in its current state and committing to taking it to another level of success—which may also mean creating a new firm model to accommodate the changing wants and needs of its workforce.

Dustin Hostetler

Dustin Hostetler

Dustin Hostetler, Boomer Consulting, www.boomer.com

The CPA firm talent wars are still raging strong. I see and hear about it in almost every market/firm with which I work, and CPACA members confirmed as much. It is going to be imperative that firms take measures to address this – beyond the traditional means. Questions firms should be asking themselves to help assess retention issues and develop opportunities are:

  • Are we providing leading edge growth and development opportunities for our team members?
  • Do we have a collaborative culture – both internally and with our clients – in which young talent is attracted to?
  • Do we have world-class processes – utilizing the best technology and process improvement initiatives – in which young talent is attracted to?
  • Does our firm leadership “lead by example” in every way?
  • Do we focus on results, not just effort?
Gary Adamson

Gary Adamson

Gary Adamson, Adamson Advisory, www.adamsonadvisory.com

Baby Boomer leadership in CPA firms will continue to grapple with their own retirements and how to position their firms to survive the succession challenges.

Most prefer an internal succession plan, handing the firm off to the future leadership they believe they are growing to be ready. Unfortunately many will not be able to pull it off. The challenges center on building your bench and must include strategies addressing recruiting, growth and development and retention. But the biggest challenge (and perhaps the key to it all) is to understand and address the gap between the values and expectations of your emerging leaders compared to the current Baby Boomer leadership. We just can’t keep doing things the way we’ve always done them and expect success.

Jennifer Wilson, ConvergenceCoaching, LLC, www.convergencecoaching.com 

Jennifer Wilson

Jennifer Wilson

The most important issue or opportunity facing CPAs is embracing the next generation of leadership.  Up-and-comers are committed to entrepreneurial, innovative ideas to drive change. They are interested in better leveraging technology, improving efficiency and moving away from a volume model toward a true value model. They embrace anytime, anywhere work strategies and putting people first. I think there’s never been a more exciting time to be a CPA!  Current firm leaders who resist these ideals will find themselves driving their Millennials away – and ending up at a significant competitive disadvantage, without the talent to bring their organizations forward.  Firm leaders who encourage these new ideas and foster an environment of change will retain their best and brightest, ensuring unlimited potential for their firms.

Mary Bennett

Mary Bennett

Mary Bennett, ML Bennett Consulting, LLC, www.mlbennettconsulting.com

We are facing the “perfect storm” of baby boomer retirements—lack of gen x and gen y professionals to take the boomers’ place exacerbated by the increasing apathy among potential successors regarding the traditional public accounting model and “partnership opportunity”. This crisis is real and some firms are just “waking up” to the reality of their situation.  Firms of the future have understood for some time that one key to success is developing an organization that values “multicultural competency”.  What does that mean?  It means:

  • the ability to identify and develop talent that is different from ourselves
  • the ability to develop trusted client relationships with business owners who are also different from ourselves

The firm of the future is moving from what we see today to fully inclusive teams of people that effectively leverage the broadest diversity of talent along with contemporary organizational structures and career paths supported by new business models.

Rick Solomon, Thriving Firm, www.thrivingfirm.com 

Rick Solomon

Rick Solomon

The disconnect between current firm leaders and the emerging leaders who they hope will take the helm one day is hurting our profession and, if left unaddressed, will only get worse. Many current leaders fail to recognize the importance of investing in both the personal and professional development of their emerging leaders. Often we see way too much emphasis on current year profits as opposed to a more enlightened view that investing in your people, your most valuable asset, provides the greatest possible long-term benefits – both in terms of business success and personal fulfillment.

Rita Keller

Rita Keller

Rita Keller, Keller Advisors, LLC, www.ritakeller.com

There is so much M&A activity and we are all seeing many situations where a firm is “merging up” in order to fix a problem. As M&A continues, there will be many firms left behind because the firms doing acquisitions are becoming more selective. They do not want other people’s problems.

Roman Kepczyk, Xcentric, www.xcentric.com

Roman Kepczyk

Roman Kepczyk

Proactively addressing the different viewpoints between the senior members in the firm and the up and coming future leaders.  Discussions pointed out the root cause of many inter-firm conflicts having to do with senior members becoming comfortable with the environment they have participated in creating, which frankly drives little motivation for them to change if they have been really successful.  Counter this to the feelings of the strongest professional staff that believe they are running the gauntlet to get the firm to adopt positive change. Firms must address these differences and find a middle ground otherwise the future leaders of the firm will be dis-incentivized and leave the firm to either go into to industry or start their own practice (which, by the way has never been easier to do!).

Sandra Wiley

Sandra Wiley

Sandra Wiley, Boomer Consulting, Inc., www.boomer.com

Leaders in our profession are in need of a makeover.  They have the technical skills to run a “today” firm, but they need to gain new skills and knowledge to lead their firm into the future. Learning from profession leaders, and even the emerging leaders in their firms will set them up for success – but they have to be committed to change.  This may not be easy, but it is exciting and necessary.    

Sarah Johnson Dobek, Inovautus Consulting, www.inovautus.com

Sarah Johnson Dobek

Sarah Johnson Dobek

Firms don’t spend enough time teaching their people how to manage. It takes time to manage, but it creates more productive, profitable workers and an overall better working environment. It also creates trust.  Managing isn’t offering to review notes. It filters in one-on-one training and education, too. Also, training and development of their people is an issue. I am not talking about CPE. Instead, I am talking about one-to-one time with employees. We have done away with shadowing and allowing people to learn through observing and doing. We can’t just throw them to the wolves. Someone has to show them how to do things and be there to support them as they learn.

Tamera Loerzel

Tamera Loerzel

Tamera Loerzel, ConvergenceCoaching, LLC, www.convergencecoaching.com

The most important insight is not a new insight, but rather a heightened sense of urgency for current firm leaders to come together with their future leaders to understand both views for the future of their firms. I believe they will find more similarities than they believe exist, and on the differences, the current leaders that empower the change that future leaders envision will emerge as the leading firms that attract the best and brightest, make the biggest difference for their clients and define new opportunities for the profession. And, it has to start now with the anticipated transition of the Baby Boomers over the next ten years and continued increase in voluntary turnover in firms with many leaving public accounting.

Terry Putney, Transition Advisors, LLC, www.transitionadvisors.com

Terry Putney

Terry Putney

Many firms in the profession are enjoying significant top line growth both organically and through acquisitions. However, a growing problem is attracting, developing, and retaining talent. Up to now this problem has been addressed by many firms through increasing productivity with increased investments in technology but also via increasing time requirements for their people, including owners. In the future, successful firms will do a better job than their peers of providing a rewarding and satisfying professional opportunity without sacrificing work life balance. The firms that are not able to deal with this issue will be more likely to seek upstream mergers in order to provide for the succession of their owners.

In 2014 the CPACA conducted a groundbreaking study of CPA firms on “What Drives Happiness at Work”. For more information on The CPACA, to subscribe to their blog or visit their website at http://cpaconsultantsalliance.com/.

Platt’s Perspective: What We Can All Learn From The Donald Sterling Debacle

By: Mike Platt

As I write this, the reaction to L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s clearly outrageous remarks is less than a week old. For the record, I had never heard of Sterling before this week. I have come to know of him only from the collective outcry over his outlandish, absurd comments that were caught on tape for the world to hear.

While I agree with the majority of the criticism over Sterling’s actions and ignorance, it made me stop and think: Is someone guilty if they simply think racist thoughts or acknowledge internal biases against others? Or are they guilty only when they say what they think out loud? Or are they guilty only if they act on their prejudices?

Mike Platt

Mike Platt

Or are they guilty only if what they say is recorded for all to hear.

We all have biases and make quick judgments about other people – it’s been hard-wired into our brains for 100,000 years to help quickly identify friend from foe. Whether stirred by race, ethnic backgrounds, perceptions of age, gender, weight, whether someone is vegetarian or drives a certain kind of car, where someone went to school, or where someone comes from – all of these drive internal judgments, thoughts and biases that most of us in a civilized society try not to act on. So where in the spectrum do we cross over from “being human” to being the subject of intense disdain? In Sterling’s case, it seems obvious that he crossed the line. But where is that line?

If, as a leader of your firm, you can look in the mirror and see someone with absolutely no biases or prejudices staring back, congratulations – you’re one in 10 million. But chances are, most of us make judgments about people based on something other than the facts of a situation.

Is it acceptable to think bad things toward the person who cuts you off on the freeway? Most of us would say that our thoughts are our own. But when it comes to actions, a line between right and wrong comes into focus. Some of us may yell at the bad driver, but would you start chasing the car? What if you caused an accident? At what point is the line crossed?

Think about your role as a leader. Do you recognize any internal biases against any of your team members based on something other than performance? Do you look at that short guy with Coke-bottle glasses differently than his taller, less optically challenged peer? Do you think people who think like you are naturally better at what they do than others who may think differently? Does the mere act of thinking these thoughts make you guilty of unfair biases or prejudices?

Now think about how these biases or prejudices affect your actions. Would you hesitate to bring someone to a client because of the way they look? Are you more eager to encourage, promote and develop a superstar who shares your hobbies or religious beliefs or pedigree over someone who comes from a different background? Do you find yourself not bringing that short guy with the Coke-bottle glasses to your best clients because of the “message” it might send?

We can all agree that if you made some stupid Sterling-like comments at a firmwide meeting you’ve crossed the line. People would have a legitimate reason to judge you and question your leadership authority. But what about just thinking these thoughts? What about subconsciously acting on these thoughts?

Unconscious biases are complicated. For the most part, as 21st century successful business men and women, we have evolved a lot over the last 50 years when prejudices were more common in the workplace. But as human beings we still make internal judgments about the people we work with and either consciously or unconsciously may still act on those biases.

It takes a consistent effort and a fully aware leader to acknowledge his or her own biases, and once you recognize they exist, you are capable of pushing against them and ensuring that they do not influence your actions. Let’s all learn from the Sterling affair. Let’s look in the mirror and figure out what we need to do to become better leaders because of it.

IFAC Conducting Poll of Top Issues for Small, Medium Firms

The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) is taking a poll of key issues confronting small- and medium-sized practices (SMPs) and their clients.

The SMP Quick Poll is being conducted in 17 languages and focuses on the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board’s (IAASB) Auditor Reporting Exposure Draft and integrated reporting, in addition to other industry trend questions.

The poll takes about five minutes and will close Dec. 31.

 

 

What’s Your Take on Banning Telecommuting? Please Share.

First Yahoo announced it will end telecommuting; now Best Buy is following suit.

What do you think?

Does your firm offer telecommuting options? If yes, please share briefly your policy, results, pros and cons. Thank you for sharing.