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How Professional Services firms can capitalize on the Great Resignation

The Great Resignation is upon us, you may already be seeing it in your firm. If you have not heard about this Forbes has a great summary where you can learn the basics. The more interesting recent news is that as Jeff Haden of Inc Magazine reports that money had little to do with it, and even less to do with earning the right to find the right people for your business.

The early signs of the Great Resignation came in the tech and hospitality segments, but it is focused and bearing down on Professional Service. Accountants, Architects, Attorneys, and Law Firms you should have your radar up. Your professional staff is more patient, and more resilient, and is waiting until the fall to make their announcements. You may have already noticed that they are taking more time off this summer than normal. As a Managing Partner you may just be attributing this to burning through all the unused vacation from COVID. Look carefully, this is the canary in the coal mine.  Your staff is getting everything all lined up and waiting for things to be more normal having kids back in school and finding more social time.

What they want is less stress in their life and more time to enjoy it. They associate the stress with work. They no longer want to spend those 10 hours a week commuting to and from the office. They want the firm to reinvent how the work gets done. A CPA firm client of ours analyzed their work patterns and realized that they could shift to a hybrid, remote, and part time work force. They are recruiting some very talented people from competitors that insist that everyone must be back in the office full time.

It goes beyond recruiting, the key is retention. Compensation is table stakes, the real things that causes employees to stay are easy to implement. We just need to take time to work on the business rather than in the business. Don’t get me wrong, the key to success is excellent client service and strong technical skills. Working on the business provides the organizational climate necessary for retention.

As Max DePree says, we must liberate people to do what is required of them in the most effective and humane way possible. This is not as impossible as it sounds, it all comes down to the 3 E’s: empowerment, enablement, and ennobling. My contention is that when we practice these things everyday people will want to stay. I challenge you to start this now and do it every day if you want some amazing results.


Provide clarity on what need to be accomplished and then transfer authority so people can innovate and do the work.


See that everyone is involved in the decisions and then remove obstacles so people can better apprehend the vision.


Start conversations with gratitude, saying I respect you and trust how you go about doing the work.

This is easy to say, but hard to do consistently. Let your team in on what you are up to, they will help you remember the 3 E’s and may even start doing it themselves.

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