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An important member of your accounting staff left? Here’s how to cope with it

An important member of your accounting staff left? Here’s how to cope with it

Staffing is among the top business issues facing UK accountants in practice today. Since early 2015, there have been countless stories in newspapers and magazines about the short supply up and down the country, and how this shortage is hampering growth in the accountancy sector.

People leave their accountancy role for various reasons; some leave because of workload pressures or maybe want to work closer to home while others may leave to work for competing practices for higher pay packages.

Whatever the reason, the only time you feel like you are in a mess is when a really important member of your staff leaves. Hopefully, you will never have to deal with such a situation but if you do here’s how to cope with it.

 Firstly, let’s look at how losing an important staff member can affect your practice:

  1. It inhibits your ability to service clients
  2. It forces you to use senior managers (or even yourself) to work on low-margin compliance jobs
  3. It can cause a backlog of work which can impact on other clients and ultimately cause them to look for another accountancy firm.

What to do when an important staff member leaves?

Getting an idea about exactly how much work is left when the staff member is gone should be a great place to start. Compare this information to your team’s current priorities, tasks and workload, so you can determine whether you need to hire a replacement.

For example, in some cases if the workload is daunting you might need to hire a temporary accountant immediately. In other cases, you will be able to distribute the workload amongst current accountants while you find the right replacement.

Keep in mind that doing this can shake up your team’s dynamics. Current staff members might find themselves scrambling to cover the extra work and this can impact them negatively. And as the on-boarding process can take months, it might result in them being in the same position as the accountant who left and make them consider this route too.

Considering the urgency, identifying the ideal hire, cost of hiring and training as well as lost productivity due to bad hires can be expensive for your practice, so it might honestly be a good time to assess outsourcing and find out how it fits into your overall strategy.


It’s no secret that many accountancy firms in the UK are turning to outsourcing to temporarily meet shortages. We conducted an internal survey of our accounting clients last year, and here are some reasons why they chose to outsource:

  • Temporary need for flexible workforce capacity
  • Lack of in-house skills
  • Rising recruiting costs
  • Difficulty in retaining staff
  • Reduce internal staff workload
  • Get time for business development

The following are some questions often asked by accountants about how outsourcing can help when an important member of their staff leaves:

  1. How can outsourcing help me keep the recruiting costs down?
    Hiring accountants is expensive. Oxford Economics found that it costs over £30,614 to replace a staff member. Aside from the hiring cost, you could also be on the hook for these variable costs: employer NI contributions, auto-enrolment pension contributions, employer’s liability insurance, holiday pay, maternity/paternity and sick pay, etc.

    And those are just the most obvious expenses. There are plenty of other hidden costs when taking on new employees. You’ll need to spend management time interviewing candidates, cost related to advertising the new role, HR time spent processing replacement and recruitment agency fees.

    Perhaps the most obvious benefit of outsourcing is that it helps you to save all the ‘recruitment’ overheads mentioned above. With outsourcing you don’t have to worry about leave, holiday pay, or any of the costs that you incur when hiring an accountant.
  2. How can outsourcing help with seasonal highs and lows?
    This is a great question as accountants often face seasonal staffing shortages. For instance, let’s say you have a regular workforce of 20 accountants, but during peak seasons, you could really use 30. Adding more staff will help during the busy seasons, but when the season’s over you will be left with 10 additional accountants in your hands.

    You could either equally redistribute the workload, but then every accountant would not have enough to fill their time, and your costs would be higher than necessary. In this situation, it’s best to keep your regular workforce at 20 and hire 10 accountants in an outsourcing company to help you during the busy season.  When the busy season is over and the extra pair of hands are done for the year, you could go back to your regular workforce.
  3. How can outsourcing help me find cover ASAP?
    Now that you know that accountants in outsourcing companies can help when an important member of staff leaves, you may wonder how soon you can take advantage of this situation. Well, when you partner with an outsourcing company like QXAS, you can get accountants immediately.

Losing an accountant, especially an important one, is tough. But it doesn’t not have to cripple your operational capacity.  A reliable and professional accounts outsourcing company can provide you with the right accountants, right at the time you need them the most. 

For help starting a discussion on how outsourcing can help you when an important member of your accounting staff quits, contact us.

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