Two Ways Your Strategic Plan Can Reduce Turnover

Your strategic plan is a great visionary document. First of all because you have one, and have taken the time to formulate where you want to steer your firm over the next 1 – 3 years. And secondly, because every owner at your firm knows what the plan is. They probably even nodded in agreement during the planning session (we’ll leave the topic of buy-in for another day).  

With every living set of ideas like a strategic plan, there are undoubtedly changes, updates, progress, regress, adherence and abhorrence. Overall, though, it’s meeting your expectations and serving as a solid drop in the ‘planning is everything’ bucket. 

But is your strategic plan doing as much for you as it can? We have been surveying CPA firm team members and asking them what characteristics of their firm they felt were being done well or well communicated, and which weren’t. The strategic plan is a topic that came up with some strong data. 

We segmented the survey group between those who were “flight risks” and those that were not. Flight risks self-identified as those who were ‘likely’ or ‘probably’ seeking a new position in the next 6 – 12 months.  

Upon reviewing the preliminary data we found:  

59% of flight-risk staff have no idea what their firm’s strategic plan is.  

Contrast this with only 17% of staff*, who are not seeking a new position at all, giving the same response. 

So it seems logical that there is an opportunity here to double check on the communication of your strategic plan. Perhaps you’ve been keeping it to just firm owners and top leaders, or perhaps you shared it once at a high level. Here are two ideas for how to use this data, and leverage your existing strategic plan even further. 

1. Share Your Strategic Plan ... Again

When asked in our survey: ‘What is one thing your firm could do to better retain top performers?’ one manager commented “they could better communicate their goals.” Another responded added “At my current firm there is no plan, no path, and very little organization overall.” 

Have you integrated communication of your plan, and progress against it, into regular communications with your entire firm? Consider asking some of your team 1:1 to share their understanding of the strategic plan. How well does their response line up with what you’d like them to articulate? 

2. Ask Them to Implement Your Strategy 

A different manager commented on having “general boredom with current routine” as a reason behind currently seeking a new position. Your CPAs want a challenge, after all they didn’t take Intermediate Accounting just for fun.  How can you focus your team on contributing to the success of your strategic plan? Inviting staff into the leadership role of executing strategy can breathe new life into what may, at times, feel like a stagnant job. Assign them a partner-mentor for a strategic initiative, and hold them accountable for delivering on tasks that contribute to these objectives. 

By sharing and involving your staff in the strategic direction of the firm, you can improve their engagement and reduce their flight-risk-status. Why not make your existing strategic plan work overtime for you? The DOL won’t even make you pay it time-and-a-half. 

If you would like to see summary results from this survey, sign up by taking the survey here.


*‘Staff’ in this study includes all non-partner respondents: associates, seniors, and managers. The majority of the ‘staff’ group was made up of managers. It’s also worth noting that 24% of all staff identified as a flight-risk. These aren’t just the couple of people you wish would take their flight-risk-status and act on it, but a solid group that includes your B-players, and even all-stars, at your firm.