How to Motivate and Retain Employees


Employee retention is essential to maintain customer relationships and minimize recruiting and training costs. The keys to employee satisfaction and retention are founded on strong leadership and sound management practices. By mastering these arts, you should have happy, loyal employees and customers, resulting in growth, profits and personal gratification.

Here are some ways to ensure you are motivating and retaining your employees.


Operating Systems

The foundation of an efficient and effective workplace is the structure, discipline and consistency provided by well-conceived systematic operating methods. A policies and procedures (P&P) manual is critical to ensure that employees understand what is expected of them and know how they should handle the myriad of duties and responsibilities in the day-to-day operations of the business.

Check out our Tax Practice Management Tools if you don’t already have a P&P Manual in place.


Employment Agreements and Job Descriptions

Legal agreements are often a “necessary evil” to ensure there is a “meeting of the minds” as to exactly what the parties agree to when they enter into an employer-employee relationship. The agreement should specify the term, termination, duties, responsibilities and compensation. .



New employees will need orientation before going to work in your business and then on-the-job training. Training should include a review of your policies and procedures, with special emphasis on key subjects, such as customer service and your company philosophy and culture. Retraining should be done each year.

In our nearly 50 years of experience we’ve found that the best tax preparers come from recruiting individuals with great people skills and teaching them tax preparation. The Income Tax School has everything you need to recruit and train your own tax preparers.


Tools to do the Job

Employee costs constitute a major expense in most businesses. Not giving your employees adequate tools to do the job is “penny wise and pound foolish.” Employing current technology can greatly improve efficiency and employee morale. Don’t forget to provide the little things that make employees’ jobs easier.   Providing adequate tools to do the job will increase employee productivity and satisfaction. Tools to do the job as a tax preparer include user-friendly, comprehensive tax professional software and an up-to date computer with dual monitors, plus a  reliable printer, copier and scanner.  Don’t forget all the small desk accessories and Internet access to all tax reference sources.

Workplace Atmosphere

How your employees feel about their jobs is greatly influenced by your workplace atmosphere. Extravagance is not necessary, but you should provide a pleasant place to work. Keeping the workplace clean and uncluttered requires the cooperation of all employees. Employees’ attitudes are affected by their work environment; make sure it is positive!


Your employees need someone readily available to help when they have questions or encounter problems. Adequate staffing to properly serve all customers is also essential for employee morale. Your people should not feel like they are left on their own.

Company Culture

World-class companies always have in common World-class cultures. Leaders of such businesses recognize that profit is a byproduct of meeting the needs of customers and employees. A business also has a responsibility to give back to the community and most employees want to make meaningful contributions through their work. They also like to take pride in their work and deliver quality products and services. And they need to continue to learn and grow professionally. A good company culture enables employees to combine their strengths to meet these mutual needs as part of a dynamic team.


A performance-based compensation plan should encourage employees to behave in ways that will attain the company’s goals, while also meeting your employees’ personal objectives. To attract desirable employees, your pay scale should be competitive. The pay plan must also be objective and fair to all employees.


Even if your profit margins are thin, you can provide benefits that are not cost-prohibitive, or even free. Providing more benefits puts you in a better competitive position to attract and retain employees. Little perks, like buying pizza for the staff on a hectic day, help to make your employees appreciate their jobs. Be creative!


Numerous studies have documented the fact that money is not the primary motivator for most workers. In fact, people who are motivated primarily by money may not be good employees. Recognize your people frequently for their good work and they will repeat the performance frequently. Praise must be sincere and should be distributed equitably, if warranted.


Lack of effective communication from superiors is often the greatest cause for employee dissatisfaction and premature departure. The best managers listen to and communication frequently with all employees; and they make it easy for employees to tell them about problems and concerns.


Engage your employees to make decisions; give them the authority to act in the best interests of the company. Provide training in resolving customer problems and then trust them to make the right choices. Give your people some time to think and plan by building in some slack time through adequate staffing and by providing support.

Having Fun

People like to work in an environment that is enjoyable; they can get burned out if the work environment is totally serious and strictly business. Great companies like Southwest Airlines have come up with creative ways for employees to have fun. If you’re not naturally good at getting people to have fun, designate a key employee to assume this role and be your official or unofficial cheerleader. Here at ITS, we have a “Fun Committee”.


More Great Reads:

Why Every Tax Business Owner Needs a Strategic Plan

Adopting a Servant Leadership Model For Your Tax Business

Strategic Business Plan Essentials