The Official BQE Software Blog

Employee Relations 101 for Professional Services Firms

What's the key to long-term survival for your professional services firm? The answer is clients – finding and servicing great clients. The people and businesses that rely on you for your services are the most crucial component of your firm's financial health.

But don’t you need something else to be able to service these great clients? If you are a sole proprietor, there are only so many hours in a year that you can bill out. And eventually you need to start delegating work to other professionals.

But what if you're a firm that already employs several professionals? The question for you, then, becomes this: "How do I keep my current workers from leaving?"

“Well, no kidding,” you’re probably thinking to yourself. Of course you don’t want your current employees to leave – especially if they’re high performing. But have you really thought through what it will take to keep your employees from leaving your firm?

Each group of employees – younger employees, experienced professionals and administrative staff – has different career goals and motivations, each of which requires a different approach from you as the owner or managing partner of your firm.

With a high demand – but low supply (especially among Millennials) – for service professionals, here are some suggestions for convincing your employees that there’s no better place to grow their professional career than at your firm.

Connect with Your Workers

For your entry-level workers and those professionals with 1 to 3 years of experience, you need to know what makes them excited to get up every morning. Why do they love coming to work for you? Or maybe they don’t love coming to your office every day. Whichever the case, it’s your job to find out why.

While you’re focusing some of your attention on helping your younger workers get established with their careers, your experienced employees, on the other hand, likely know by now what they want from their professional career. Some aspire to be an owner or a partner in a firm, while others are content with being a career manager. Have you been discussing these career goals with your experienced workers? If this group of employees becomes bored or disengaged, they may begin looking elsewhere for employment.

Lunch for Two

To help develop deeper professional relationships with both younger and experienced professionals, consider taking each of your employees to lunch, once or twice a year. It needs to be an informal setting (compared to an official evaluation in your office with the door closed) where the employee is more likely to open up and be honest.

During these lunches, ask your employees what they enjoy about working for your firm and what they’d like to see done differently. For example, timesheets are always a sore subject with employees. This could be an opportunity to explain why time keeping is important in your firm. Ask how easy it is to use the software your firm has invested in, and if there’s anything that could make things easier.

Promote Your Firm’s Work-life Balance

Both your younger workers and experienced professionals have different areas of their life they care about. It’s your responsibility to let your employees know that as long as clients get attended to, your firm is flexible with when and where work gets done.

For younger workers, the most productive time during their day may occur when sitting on a living room couch, or at a coffee shop, or on a park bench underneath a big oak tree. Promote this opportunity to work away from your traditional office for several days a month.

For your experienced employees, working away from the office often means working from home so they can spend time with their spouse or kids. These workers will also value a “flex time” policy. As long as your employees work at least 40 hours a week, it shouldn’t matter if an employee works four 10-hour days or five 8-hour days. Don’t force your employees to use up sick or vacation time if they work less than eight hours a day to attend doctor appointments, events at their kids’ school or running an errand.

Connecting with your employees, getting honest feedback on what it’s like to work for your firm and having a policy that lets work get done away from the office are three ways to promote your firm to potential employees and hopefully retain the workers you already have.

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