Poll Results: Retention Effectiveness Strategies for CPA Firms

We polled our audience of CPA firms to find out the average turnover percentage in 2022 and what retention strategies firms plan to implement after this latest winter busy season to try to keep staff from joining the mass exodus that is common for public accounting professionals at this time of year.  

Based on 63 responses, the average turnover percentage was 9%. This is significantly lower than that of the 2022 Rosenberg Survey respondents, who reported an average turnover of approximately 19%. This is admirable, given the tumultuous staffing problems many firms have faced over the past few years. If your firm is experiencing high turnover or wants to continue a streak of above-average performance in turnover, you may find this blog particularly insightful as we discuss retention strategies firms are using. 

We asked what was the most common reason staff cited for leaving the firm. Not surprisingly, working too many hours, feeling burnt out, and lack of work-life balance received nearly 50% of the votes.  

These have been some long-standing faults of the public accounting industry — ones that more progressive firms are trying to curb by implementing year-round, 40-hour work week requirements, giving staff members Fridays off during the off-seasons, or providing additional flexibility around what hours employees are allowed to work.  

Of the 24 firms that cited “Other” as the reason, the diagram below illustrates what those other reasons were:


Retention Strategies 

So what strategies are firms using to retain their staff after this busy season? Based on the results of our survey, the top two answers across all firm sizes are (a) having celebrations with staff such as happy hours, team lunches, etc., and (b) having 1:1 discussions with their employees to debrief on how the busy season went in terms of what did and did not go well, and assessing individual workloads.  

Other strategies that firms plan to use include:

  • Conducting stay interviews
  • Hosting a family day at a theme park
  • Increasing paid time off (PTO) hours
  • Instituting 32-hour workweeks during the summer months
  • Having more in-depth conversations with staff about career paths and mentoring
  • Milestone bonus program for promotions
  • Offering senior managers and directors sabbaticals
  • Offering coaching and development programs.

Retaining staff has undoubtedly been one of the biggest challenges for CPA firms of all sizes over the last few years. What has your firm done to help retain staff? What has been the most successful approach to retention? And, in contrast, what hasn’t worked? We’d love to hear how you approach retention at your firm in the comments below.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar photo Marc Rosenberg, CPA on May 3, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    Great information, Amanda. Keep it coming!

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