Start Cross-Training Your Accounting Team Today
August 30, 2023

The accounting profession is facing a talent crisis. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that roughly 17% of U.S. accountants and auditors have left their jobs over the past two years, leaving some open positions unfilled for many months. And the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) estimates that 75% of CPAs have plans to retire within the next 15 years. There are also fewer new accountants entering the profession: Accounting undergraduate degrees were down almost 9% from 2012 to 2020, according to the AICPA.

Today’s shortage of accountants and high turnover rate in the profession are creating a need for modern accountants to broaden their skills and become more adaptable within their organizations. In fact, a growing number of public companies are disclosing gaps in accounting personnel as a material weakness in their internal controls over financial reporting that could potentially lead to fraud.

What can your business or nonprofit organization do to alleviate such concerns? One possible solution is to consider cross-training your accounting personnel beyond their current job descriptions.

Benefits Abound

The most obvious benefit to cross-training is having a knowledgeable, flexible staff who can rise to the occasion when another staff member is out. Whether due to illness, resignation, vacation or family leave, accounting personnel may sometimes be unavailable to perform their job duties.

Another benefit is that cross-training nurtures a team-oriented environment. If staff members have vested interests in the jobs of others, they likely will better understand the department’s overall business processes, leading to enhanced productivity and collaboration. Cross-training also facilitates internal promotions because employees will already know the challenges of and skills needed for an open position. In addition, cross-trained employees are generally better-rounded and feel more useful.

Additionally, the accounting department is at high risk for fraud, especially payment tampering and billing scams, according to the 2022 Report to the Nations by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). If employees are familiar with each other’s duties and take over when a co-worker calls in sick or takes vacation, it creates a system of checks and balances that may help deter dishonest behaviors. Cross-training, plus mandatory vacation policies and regular job rotation, equals strong internal controls in the accounting department.

How to Cross-Train

The simplest way to cross-train is usually to have employees take turns at each other’s jobs. The learning itself need not be overly in-depth. Just knowing the basic, everyday duties of a co-worker’s position can help tremendously in the event of a lengthy or unexpected absence.

Whether personnel switch duties for one day or one week, they’ll be better prepared to take over important responsibilities if the need arises. Also, encourage your CFO and controller to informally “reverse-train” within the department. This will prepare them to fill in or train others in the event of an unexpected employee loss or absence.

For More Information

If your organization is having trouble attracting and retaining accounting personnel, it’s not alone. Cross-training your current staff can mitigate accounting personnel concerns not only by preparing staff for the potential departure of a co-worker, but also by fostering a rewarding work environment that nurtures your staff’s career development. Contact us to help you develop an effective cross-training program that’s right for your business or nonprofit.

© 2023

 

You might also like

Auditing Warehouse Operations

Auditing Warehouse Operations

When you hear the word “audit,” you might automatically associate it with financial reporting or the IRS. But auditing warehouse operations might also be beneficial for some businesses, such as manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Awkward or repetitive movements...

read more
Why Audited Financials Matter

Why Audited Financials Matter

Reliable financial reporting is key to any company’s success. Here’s why your business should at least consider investing in audited financial statements. Weighing the Differences Most businesses maintain an in-house accounting system to manage their financials. The...

read more