The Future of Work

6 Tips to Training New Team Members the Right Way

About the Author: Katie Thomas, CPA, is a content creator, 2021 & 2022 40 under 40 CPA Practice Advisor recipient, Top 50 Women in Accounting recipient, and the owner of Leaders Online, where they help accounting professionals increase their impact, influence, and income through thought leadership and digital marketing. Feel free to visit Leaders Online or connect with her on LinkedIn to get in touch with Katie.

If you’re interested in learning more about Katie and FloQast, check out her episode of FloQast CEO Mike Whitmire’s podcast Blood, Sweat & Balance Sheets on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or YouTube, and don’t forget to subscribe!

In the next decade, it’s expected that there will be 136,400 job openings per year for accountants. Even in a turbulent economy, the accounting industry faces a talent crunch due to a variety of reasons from emerging skill sets to an aging professional population. There are only a handful of strategies to deploy here. Business leaders surveyed resoundingly said doing more with less is the lever they will pull. Therefore, it is vital you focus on this key aspect when hiring: training.

If you’re not working on perfecting the training processes you have in place, it can lead to:

  • Higher than average turnover
  • Poor performance
  • Negative culture and unhappy employees
  • A plethora of other workplace issues

Training is crucial to your business’ and employees’ overall success. If you spend time training your employees properly, it can have a drastic impact on your business. Let’s first dive into why that is and then we’ll discuss the right way to approach training. 

Why Training The Right Way Is Important

Workers are not afraid to leave employers in search of a position that pays more or offers them a better cultural fit. However, if you train your employees properly, it can help:

  • Improve retention: Accounting has a turnover rate of 9.4%. While it’s lower than many fields, accounting is at a breaking point and data shows that burnout is driving financial errors. Proper training can help prevent accountants from burning out and thus prevent financial errors resulting from such burnout. 
  • Increase confidence: Training helps you build a confident workforce that integrates neatly into your business and can immediately impact operations.
  • Process adherence: Proper training helps to ensure processes and procedures are followed correctly which leads to operational excellence.
  • Boost morale (and performance): As a whole, teams have better morale when everyone understands what’s expected of them and is trained properly.

If you want to train your new employees properly, the tips below will help. 

6 Tips for Training Accountants the Right Way

1. Create a Training Roadmap 

Proper training and onboarding can help improve employee retention. In fact, efficient onboarding can improve retention by as much as 82%.

What does your training roadmap look like? If you don’t have a roadmap, now is the time to get one in place. When creating your roadmap, consider the duration: 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, or more? Training length will depend on the individual’s roles and responsibilities. However, it should include:

  • Proper onboarding steps
  • Achievable goals along the way
  • Team-building activities to bring the team closer together
  • Designating someone as a mentor “buddy”
  • Integrating team members into the company culture

Buddies and peers can help with the training process and ease the stress on new hires. For example, these buddies can help answer questions your new team member has, show them how to complete tasks, and be there for moral support as they get comfortable in their new role. Personally, I recommend assigning a senior accountant as a buddy and allowing the new hire to shadow the senior to learn processes first-hand when possible. I experienced this when starting my first accounting job and found it beneficial. 

New employees who befriend their buddies will often find it easier to ask them questions than go to HR or their supervisors. Add in team-building activities and goals along the training timeline, and you’ll find that new accountants are far more likely to integrate into your team. Some examples of team-building activities may be holding an after-work happy hour or attending a local sporting event. 

Don’t forget to have part of your training include educating the employee on the company culture, mission, and values. You want to ensure they feel as if they belong and have a purpose in their new role.

Next, you’ll want to provide all of the tools someone new will need to succeed in your accounting department.

2. Provide New Hires With the Tools to Succeed

Standard operating procedures and processes are integral tools for anyone joining your team. During the training process, you’ll want to:

  • Provide access to all processes and procedures that the new employee can follow. If you don’t have these in place yet, it’s time to begin documenting them as thoroughly as possible. Consider written and video instructions for all processes someone will need to replicate. Not only will these aid in the training process, but they will also go a long way in preventing tribal knowledge. Tribal knowledge, or information that is unknown to other employees and members of the company, can cause major challenges down the road.
  • Grant access to tools, platforms, and all systems to the employee. Your new accountant needs to know not only how to use these but also how all of these elements work together. This becomes much easier when you utilize integrated and automated solutions like FloQast. Such solutions greatly cut down on the number of software applications and tools new employees need to learn, while also greatly reducing their future workloads.
  • Be sure to consider different learning styles, as not everyone learns the same way. Incorporate a mix of training materials that encompass the four predominant learning styles: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinaesthetic.

Once employees have the tools they need to succeed, you can then move on to setting goals.

3. Set Realistic Goals for New Hires

When hiring new employees, it’s important to set clear and realistic goals. Be sure to consider having both longer-term and shorter-term goals in place. When it comes to short-term goals, you should have a few goals in place for their first few weeks. Consider making these goals tied to tangible and tactical KPIs that enable them to self-track and measure their own performance.  Doing so will help new hires feel more confident in their new position and fit into the team faster. 

To set goals for new employees, assess their capabilities, and use their experience and skillset as guides. 

Once goals are set, it’s important to check in on new hires, create a feedback loop, and monitor progress.

4. Proactively Check in With New Employees 

Even new hires with years of experience can feel a little intimidated and unsure of their new role. It takes time to adjust to a business’ processes and systems. New team members may face challenges along the way. It’s crucial to ensure that new employees feel comfortable asking for help. Adopt an open-door policy and explain that there are no “bad” or “silly” questions. Whatever the employee needs, you are there to help.

Be proactive and check in with new hires regularly to make sure they’re on the right track. 

  • Are they hitting milestones?
  • Are their questions being answered? 
  • Are they comfortable in their new role? 
  • Is there anything additional they need from you as their employer? 

Checking in with new employees gives you a chance to provide support and answer questions before mistakes are made or the employee gets frustrated. 

5. Implement a Feedback Loop

In addition to checking in with employees make sure that you’re also scheduling time to provide and request feedback regularly. These meetings are an opportunity to praise new hires and help them improve in areas where they may be struggling.

During this time, you can also set new goals and ensure that new employees know what’s expected of them as they progress in their roles. Further, to ensure that you continue providing the best possible training, it’s important that you collect feedback from new hires. Ask for suggestions on improving the training process or experience for future workers. 

Continue the feedback loop once the initial training process is over. Feedback should be provided both ways. For example, from the staff’s perspective, how can management improve? From management’s perspective, how can staff improve? Are there skills that need to be learned? Are there better ways to communicate from the bottom up or the top down? Your feedback loop is crucial to creating a better experience for the entire team.

6. Monitor Progress and Offer Support

Ongoing mentorship and support should play a crucial role in employee training. It’s important to monitor the progress of new hires and help them stay on the right track as they transition into their new role. If a new employee is struggling, ensure they have the support they need to overcome whatever challenges they are facing. 

Training and mentorship should continue long after you’ve reached the end of your roadmap. Providing ongoing support will help new employees settle into their roles and continue to grow and thrive over the long term.

It’s important to note that employees should be encouraged to seek mentorship external to the company. This is a great way for employees to get extra support and to bring new ideas into a company without having to hire.

Final Thoughts

Proper training and onboarding provide a solid foundation for new hires so that they feel confident in their new roles. Support and mentorship will also ensure that these employees feel valued and have someone to turn to when they have questions now and in the future.

Training is a time and resource investment, but it can go a long way in improving retention and ensuring your team is happy over the long term.

Katie Thomas, CPA

Katie Thomas, CPA is a content creator, 2021 40 under 40 CPA Practice Advisor recipient, and the owner of Leaders Online, where they help accounting professionals increase their impact, influence, and income through thought leadership and digital marketing. To get in touch with Katie, feel free to visit Leaders Online or connect with her on LinkedIn.