ARTICLE | April 22, 2023 | Authored by RSM US LLP
Like everything important in life and business, it all starts with the people.
Professional services companies thrive only to the extent that their employees succeed. To create a workforce that is engaged and performing at a superior level, organizations must consider the interplay of people, process and technology. Addressing these three critical components as one interlocking function can help companies tap into their employees’ full potential.
In today’s dynamic job market, employees of professional services firms are looking for opportunities to develop their skills and advance their career. Of course, the specifics can vary, depending on the company’s needs and the capabilities of its staff members.
For that reason, leaders must have honest, in-depth conversations with their talent about their goals and career path, while fostering a culture of mentorship.
But to have a productive conversation, leaders must understand the company’s vision, the nuances of the marketplace and the employee’s abilities. Mentoring someone involves more than offering the occasional tip. It means discussing their goals, coaching them, and helping them progress toward realistic, relevant accomplishments to advance their career.
What skills does the employee want to learn? Where are the opportunities for growth within the company? What does the employee like or dislike about the job?
Those questions are just for starters. And in today’s tight labor market, professional services firms must answer a fundamental question about themselves: Why should the employee stay with the company?
Mentors must be sincere and open with their proteges, clearly communicating the organization’s intangible benefits as well as tangible career paths. There should be no mystery about how an employee can advance within the company.
Companies should also invest in professional development and training opportunities that keep employees informed about industry trends and help them develop new skill sets. This will help ensure they know what’s necessary to succeed in their role, while also providing incentives for them to stay with the team for the long term.
A firm’s employees are the driving force behind a business. Having people with the right skills in the right positions allows the company to deploy those skills rapidly to meet the demands of the marketplace.
When it comes to streamlining procedures, companies want to achieve the twin goals of improving efficiency and reducing employee stress. Fortunately, these goals are complementary.
For example, automation software can speed up processes, make systems more consistent and eliminate human errors. As a result, workers who are no longer burdened with repetitive or tedious tasks will be free to focus on higher-value tasks, which has the additional benefit of improving employee morale. Automating procedures can make processes more efficient while allowing staff members to gain more meaning from their job.
Another way to improve processes is to outsource certain tasks. Professional services firms often work with third-party providers that handle the company’s information technology, human resources, or finance and accounting operations.
The goal is not to replace employees, but to obtain outside help from people who are well-versed in functions that may be beyond the core abilities of the employee. After all, an IT professional who works for a managed service provider is always going to be better at spotting bugs in a system than a staff member who moonlights as a techie only when problems arise. Outsourcing job functions allows employees to stay on their career path and elevate their skill set, rather than forcing them to muddle through unfamiliar or repetitive tasks.
Investing in more efficient platforms and applications can seem daunting to many professional services firms. However, utilizing technology is essential to ensure that the company has a dynamic workforce capable of meeting the challenges of an evolving environment.
Technology doesn’t just help firms muddle through—it drives progress and propels companies to success.
The right technology makes employees’ jobs easier and creates a better work-life balance. In turn, employee satisfaction increases, creating a cycle of efficiency and productivity.
In addition to enabling people to work more effectively, technology can help employees gain a better understanding of their company and improve their interactions with stakeholders. If technology doesn’t accomplish these goals, however, it just becomes an expensive toy.
The key is to invest in tech solutions that deliver the best return on investment for the organization. Much depends on the needs and size of the organization—but in all cases, technology exists that can eliminate inefficiencies and generate useful data.
Unfortunately, many professional services companies rely on antiquated or ad hoc systems. Settling for “good enough” robs companies of timely, accurate data that helps them make informed decisions.
Some organizations even have an institutional reluctance, bordering on technophobia, that prevents them from investing in cutting-edge applications.
However, the pandemic proved that technology is not the enemy. Think of how many companies thrived by using Zoom, Microsoft Teams or another collaboration app to keep their employees focused and engaged. Embracing technology—not as a savior but as a tool for excellence—is a sign of a successful organization.
By itself, technology won’t solve every problem—but it can empower people to perform their job more productively and efficiently, enabling greater success for individuals and the entire organization.
Facing a dynamic labor market, uncertain economic conditions and unprecedented technological changes, professional services firms should focus on improving critical areas of their business to safeguard their workforce and ensure an unrivaled talent experience.
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This article was written by Karen Wiltgen, Jen Hartman and originally appeared on Apr 22, 2023.
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