What Career Equity Does Your Firm Offer? How to Retain More of Your Best Professionals Longer

THE CHALLENGE/OPPORTUNITY: Retaining the Best Professionals

Meet Tom. You recruited him from a top university a few years ago. He has strong technical skills, takes initiative, and he is respected by peers and partners. One of his clients recently called to say that he was making great contributions to their project.

You’re proud and worried. Why the anxiety? Tom has just crossed a critical career milestone. He celebrates his 3rd anniversary with the firm next week and you know that average tenure in professional services is 2.5 years or less.

How will this story end for you? If your firm is like the majority of growing professional firms (e.g., accounting, law, architecture, etc.), Tom’s story is not unique. As you know, any turnover prior to five years is a drain on firm profitability and continuity of service.

THE SOLUTION: Reduce Turnover Surprises

Like most leaders, you invest significant resources in recruiting, orientation and training in hopes of increasing retention. Despite these investments, turnover remains a challenge. What is missing? In our experience, most firms lack a systematic way of integrating people-related business investments into a framework that aligns with professional career aspirations.

For the past 10 years, Congruence has researched the career patterns and choices of thousands of professionals. From hundreds of exit interviews, literature reviews and mentoring sessions with partners from the nation’s best firms, we now know that professionals stay engaged in their careers, clients and firm when five factors are present. We refer to these factors collectively as Career Equity. Similar to building equity in an investment portfolio or home, these factors are the “assets” professionals want to accumulate in their careers.

The research reveals that when professionals have high career equity everyone wins. The five Career Equity assets are:

  1. Challenging or engaging work
  2. Meaningful relationships
  3. Learning and growth
  4. Community involvement
  5. Total rewards (pay & benefits)

THE RESULT: The Right Professionals Stay Longer

When implemented in a purposeful way, the Career Equity framework reduces unplanned turnover. One international accounting firm realized an increase in average tenure from 2.3 to 4.5 years.

Another firm we worked with used the Career Equity framework to increase retention on large engagement teams. By conducting a Career Equity audit, leaders identified professionals who were at risk and enhanced their career satisfaction before it led to attrition. More than three years later, key team members remain with the firm and have advanced to manager or senior manager. Most importantly, our clients have deeper relationships with their people.

YOUR NEXT STEPS: Talk to Congruence, Inc.

Call Congruence, Inc. or email Jan to learn more about Achieving Results on Purpose and conducting a Career Equity audit of your team.