5 things to consider when training your staff

5 things to consider when training your staff

As a tax professional or business leader, training staff is a crucial part of ensuring success for your company — and your clients. Not only can proper training improve productivity and efficiency, but it also helps to keep your employees up-to-date with the latest industry trends and regulations.  

In this guide, we’ll cover five key considerations to keep in mind when training your staff. 

But why is training your staff essential for tax firms?  

Training staff is essential for any business looking to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced market. Given the constant change impacting the tax and financial service industries, it’s even more paramount to implement a solid training program.  

Providing your employees with the necessary training and development opportunities can lead to increased job satisfaction and ultimately reduce turnover rates, saving you time and money in the long run. 

Not only does training staff lead to more satisfied employees, but it also improves productivity and efficiency. By providing your employees with the necessary tools and resources, they can perform their jobs more effectively and efficiently, reducing errors and increasing output. This, in turn, can lead to increased revenue and profits for your business. 

Stay on top of new tax laws 

Just like any other field, the tax industry changes. As a business owner and a tax preparer, it is your job to keep up with those changes and ensure that your staff is as informed as you are. Hold a session with your tax preparers before the start of the season on laws that have changed and deductions that have ended to ensure accurate returns for your clients. Make sure your staff has the knowledge and skills to handle these changes effectively. 

To keep your staff up-to-date with the latest tax laws, consider investing in training programs that focus specifically on changes in tax laws. These programs can provide your employees with the necessary knowledge and skills to handle complex tax issues year over year, ensuring your business remains compliant with all relevant regulations. 

Surgent Income Tax School offers a variety of continuing professional education (CPE) courses and packages, including many courses focused on updates to tax law. 

Make sure your tax software is up-to-date 

For tax professionals, it is important to have tax software that is up-to-date. Tax laws and regulations change frequently, and tax firms must keep their staff updated with these changes to ensure that their clients comply with the law. Using outdated tax software can lead to mistakes, potential penalties and even legal repercussions. 

Moreover, the usage of up-to-date tax software can lead to more efficient and precise tax preparation. It can assist tax professionals in automating tasks and simplifying their workflows — saving them time and enhancing their productivity. Contemporary tax software often has features like e-filing and direct deposit, which can speed up the tax-filing process and increase overall client satisfaction. 

As much as it’s crucial for firms to ensure their tax software is up-to-date, it’s vital for them to ensure their staff is properly trained on the updated features and capabilities of the tax software. So, when considering improvements to your training program, ensure that it includes training on tax software updates. 

Incorporate standard operating procedures (SOPs) 

Establishing standard procedures within your organization is crucial to ensuring predictable outcomes and paving the way for automation or delegation of tasks. Whether you are a solo practitioner or have a firm with hundreds of employees, maintaining a systematic approach and consistency in your workflow and processes will lead to better productivity and efficiency. 

When developing SOPs, it’s important to involve your staff in the process and, of course, include them in ongoing training. This can include soliciting feedback on current procedures and involving them in developing new ones. By involving your staff in the process, you can ensure that your SOPs are practical and relevant to their work — and are the foundation upon which much of your staff training is built. 

One practical example of standardization is streamlining new employee onboarding and training by creating templates for each step of the hiring process. Using templates for communication, workflows and technical problem-solving guides can help reduce the mental load of the training process, providing you with more time to focus on finding the right candidates for your team. 

Set expectations and goals 

Setting clear expectations and goals for your staff is essential to ensuring training success. This includes setting specific and measurable performance expectations and goals as well as providing feedback on their progress. 

By setting clear expectations and goals, you can provide your staff with a clear understanding of what is expected of them and how they can achieve success in their roles. When goals are unclear, there are no guarantees of hitting targets successfully. That’s why it’s crucial to establish and communicate performance goals during onboarding and throughout training. The earlier expectations are set, the better.  

For instance, expectations could include working odd and long hours during busier periods, offering flexible hours and defining project completion timelines. For your staff to adjust their personal schedules and availability, it’s important to have clear and effectively communicated expectations. On the flip side, it’s also important to communicate expectations during less busy times of the year. For example, seasonal tax work can be optimized by cross-training tax professionals in accounting and other areas. 

When considering optimizations to your training programs, ensure that expectations and goals are front and center in the dialog. 

Promote continuing education and training 

To foster an environment of continuous learning, it is important for businesses to make sure that all employees are kept informed about their CPE requirements and opportunities.  

Additionally, it can be helpful for companies to assist with the cost of such training, as this may encourage staff to take advantage of development opportunities. Schedule flexibility and robust course options can also be effective in motivating employees to pursue accounting training courses. Ultimately, there are two primary methods that companies can use to support their staff in this regard. 

  • Invest in a robust training package. Surgent Income Tax School offers superior professional education and training for tax professionals. Our extensive collection covers all new tax laws, with timely updates, and offers practical information that is not available from any other provider. We ensure that our wide range of courses is always up-to-date by conducting comprehensive reviews of our material. Moreover, we are prompt in updating our courses with any critical changes that affect guidance. 
  • Send staff to accounting seminars. Participating in tax and accounting seminars and conferences can provide an excellent opportunity for employees to gain insights from specialists, expand their professional network and enhance their expertise while also contributing to their personal development. 

Surgent provides all the resources you need 

Training staff is essential for any business looking to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced market. By staying up-to-date with the latest tax laws, ensuring your tax software is up-to-date, incorporating standard operating procedures, setting expectations and goals, and promoting continuing education and training, you can provide your staff with the necessary tools and resources to succeed in their roles.  

Remember, investing in your staff’s development and growth is an investment in the long-term success of your tax business. If you’re looking for assistance with training your staff, consider Surgent Income Tax School, which offers the broadest catalog and the industry’s most up-to-date courses.