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Topics: Accounting, Outsourcing, QX Insight

Are You Treating Your Accounting Outsourcing Staff Right?

7 MIN READ | Posted on February 28, 2022
Written By Laurence Whittam

Are You Treating Your Accounting Outsourcing Staff Right?

If you have chosen accounting outsourcing as a solution for your scalability woes, you have decided to scale your services strategically. Congratulations! However, to think that the outsourcing process will work on autopilot, with zero contribution from you, will be a fallacy.

Yes, work with a reputed outsourcing provider offering accounting services, and you get the benefit of a highly qualified team of outsourced accountants who do not need micromanagement. They can work as individual contributors, and there is very little need for day-to-day management. This is one of the most significant benefits of outsourcing. You scale, save time, save money, and more importantly, the time you save can be better invested elsewhere.

Fine and dandy! You are all set if you outsource. Or are you? Many CPA firms forget the outsourcing staff that works as a seamless extension of their in-house team is made up of humans. There is a living, breathing entity at the other end of the line, who they might never meet. These individuals have their own set of aspirations, expectations, and emotions. As a CPA firm, you are using their skill sets, and though they are not on your payroll, they are still working for you. 

It, therefore, makes immense sense at both the human and business levels for you and your CPA firm to ensure they are happy and satisfied. 

Why Invest in Employee Satisfaction for Outsourced Employees?

No rocket science here. Satisfaction and motivation have a direct impact on employee performance. No, the outsourced accountants are not on your firm’s payroll and therefore, you experience a significant cost advantage. But we reiterate – they still work for you. Also, they are working on critical client projects, which demand accuracy, timely turnaround and a focused approach.

Now imagine a scenario wherein they aren’t pleased working for your firm. There are plenty of reasons for this to happen and the chief amongst them would be lack of engagement. You might be treating them as machines/robots or simply non-entities who are doing a job for you. Your firm might communicate with the accountants assigned to your project only through the points assigned to your firm. While there might be no restrictions on you interacting directly with the accountants, you are not doing so. 

You either think it is unnecessary to do so, or you don’t. 

This is counterproductive because the person assigned to you might go through the same thought process you are, wherein they begin to believe they are not working with people, but just a name (of your firm). 

This can impact productivity over the long run and the quality of the work assigned to them in a worst-case scenario. 

Their heart won’t be in it, as they won’t feel like a part of the team. You must be able to foster team spirit, to maximize the potential of your accounting outsourcing strategy. 

This is also important from a scalability perspective. An outsourced team that is treated right is easier to scale. The accounting outsourcing services provider will not find it difficult to add more resources to your firm. The very fact that you are putting in the required time and effort in taking care of your extended team is a point in your favor. Good resources will want to be assigned to your project. 

Accounting Outsourcing is Not a BPO Model

Get out of the narrow vision of outsourcing. When you outsource your accounting tasks to an offshore (or onshore) services provider, you are not working with a BPO. This is not BPO accounting. You are working with a firm that has expertise in US accounting and whose services are backed by highly qualified accounting professionals. They are as good as the ones you are hiring in-house for your firm. It is just that they are on the outsourcing provider’s payroll and are working out of this provider’s delivery center.

This is also the reason why they are more affordable than in-house accountants.

These are professionals with many years of accounting experience under their belt and must be treated with respect. They are not bots. They can take on high-value complex tasks and the capability to deliver it in time, with great accuracy. 

So, treat them in a manner befitting their skills and the qualifications they bring to the table.

This will stand you well in the long run. 

The question now is, how do you manage your outsourced accounting staff the right way? How do you nurture them? How do you make them a part of your team, and show them you care?

Treating Your Outsourcing Staff Right

Your staff whether they are outsourced or inhouse, should feel wanted. 

That is the crux of the matter.

Here’s what you can do to make that happen for your outsourced team:

Talk to Them

Follow a process wherein managers and even higher-ups can directly talk to the outsourced team. Do not have reservations on this count as personal interaction tells them you are monitoring their work, and secondly, you care enough to interact with them. A simple good morning to get things started, can actually do wonders.

Make them a Part of Team Meetings

This is the next step, wherein they need to be made to feel a part of the team. The fact that they have made an effort to be a seamless extension of your team, cuts both ways. The team of accounting outsourcing experts have done so, and you need to do so as well. Think of them as YOUR team, that works out of an offshore delivery center. They are as important to your cause as your in-house team. So, tune your outsourced team in whenever you have those team meetings that are taking stock of work.

Direct Feedback Mechanism

Indirect feedback mechanisms are not bad, but in a worst-case scenario can turn into a Chinese telephone-like thing, wherein you convey feedback to a manager and the manager conveys this to the team lead and then it reaches the person who worked on the task. 

Think of a situation wherein you might not have had a big problem with the task, but by the time feedback reaches the concerned person, its contours might have changed. The outsourced accountant might needlessly worry that you aren’t happy with the work delivered. 

This is why speaking directly and conveying your feedback to the person who worked on the particular task is essential. Again, this fosters motivation and better engagement. 

Surprise Them 

If they are doing good work, why not compliment them? Or, better yet, if they have really delivered a complex task in very good time, and the client is pleased, send in a personalized thank you note with a little gift. It’s not about the gift or the reward, but the thought behind it.

Agreed, you are not responsible for keeping their motivations levels on track, but look at it this way. If an internal team member did the task, wouldn’t you have congratulated him/her on a job well done. Well, apply the same thought process here.

The Personal Touch

Imagine your outsourced accountant is celebrating his birthday, and you share your good wishes. It’s a feel-good moment right there for this person. You don’t have to try too hard to establish a personal connection. Get to know more about the people working for you, their families, hopes, and aspirations. This is what treating them right is all about. 

Treat them as your team members.

Think Long-Term

Why think short-term? Think in terms of a long-term relationship you want to build with the accounting outsourcing services provider. Aligning with a long-term objective means you take the necessary steps to achieve a comfortable working arrangement with the professionals working with your firm. Ideally, you want the same people to work on your project, so that they become more attuned to your needs and that of your clients. If they are not happy, they might want to move to another client. This can become a problem area for your firm. 

The other benefit of a long-term strategy is that you get more opportunities to build a good relationship with the accountants. You can strategize a plan to create a productive working environment for your outsourced staff. 

Extend Inhouse Culture to Outsource Team

As a CPA firm, you will have a well-instituted culture ingrained into the workforce. This could be around employee motivation, employee engagement, and more. There is no harm in extending this work culture to your outsourced team. It will help everyone if you do so. They don’t feel left out, and you don’t have to try too hard to assimilate this team. 

So, here’s the real deal. Do it for yourself even if you don’t have any aspersions towards becoming a kind, supportive, and trusted client for outsourcing firms. The more you treat your accounting outsourcing experts right, the better it is for your firm. The ROI is tangible in terms of improved productivity and long-term value.

Laurence Whittam

Laurence has more than six years of experience in the accounting industry, with a core focus on helping accounting firms optimize their revenue potential. He has helped hundreds of CPAs and Accounting Firms ranging from Solo to the Top 100s to identify their pain points and strategize and implement an action plan to address these issues and drive business growth.

Originally published Feb 28, 2022 03:02:57, updated Mar 04 2022

Topics: Accounting, Outsourcing, QX Insight


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