There’s no shortage of challenges in the realm of accounting. But according to a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey, what really keeps accounting and finance professionals awake at night is staying current with changing technology.
It’s not hard to see why. Technology is critical for achieving key goals: maintaining operational efficiencies, containing costs and staying within new regulatory guidelines. That means managers need to make sure their accounting and finance staff are comfortable with the software they use and make the most of the platforms’ functionalities.
It’s a tall order. But here are five strategies you can use to keep your staff up to date.
1. Provide periodic in-house training. Schedule monthly or quarterly training sessions, and get the dates on everyone’s calendar. These regular workshops will give your team an automatic, consistent update on key technology issues.
Take a comprehensive view when assessing the types of programs your employees need. You can survey staff to see where they feel they need the most coaching, or additional information on hot technology topics, but don’t stop there. Take into consideration feedback from regulatory bodies on needed proficiencies and areas with potential skills gaps, and check in with your network for insights on what’s hot in the marketplace. In addition, you could bring in current vendors to discuss best practices for using their tools.
2. Encourage intergenerational mentoring. Along with traditional top-down mentorships, businesses see the wisdom of reverse mentoring. This bottom-up approach gives middle- and upper-level management a chance to learn from first- and second-year professionals. It can be a mutually beneficial arrangement, where boomers and Gen Xers instruct millennials and Gen Yers exchange ideas on public accounting, client relations and technology.
3. Promote industry courses and events. Professional associations and technology providers offer a host of educational seminars all year long. Yet sometimes these opportunities go to waste because employees don’t feel they can afford the time involved. As a manager, you need to create a climate where employees can attend conferences and workshops that will enhance their technology skills. When you create next year’s budget, consider bumping up the allotment for travel and training programs.
4. Work with a consultant. Sometimes it’s best to get an outside view. Consultants can help full-time staff with new technology, such as upgraded audit tools or tax software.
5. Offer tuition reimbursement. Accountants at all levels often want to continue their education and advance their career. Consider helping your staff with the cost of outside courses or attaining a certification. Then offer some flexibility to help them fit classes in with their work. In return, those professionals can help boost the technological savvy of your entire staff.
Keeping up with technology requires time and resources, but the effort can be worth it for your team. They’ll be properly trained to make the most of rapidly evolving software and systems, so they can do their best work.
Paul McDonald is senior executive director with Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. Over the course of his 30-year career with the company, he has spoken extensively on employment and management issues based on his work with thousands of companies and job seekers.
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