With the nation’s lowest unemployment rate in 50 years at 3.7 percent in September many companies are finding it tough to recruit new employees.

But finding new employees for accounting firms is even tougher since the unemployment rate for accountants is basically 0 percent, says Brian Malthouse, president of VonLehman CPA & Advisory Firm, one of the largest accounting firms in the Greater Cincinnati area with about 125 employees.

Malthouse says the traditional well of experienced accountants that VonLehman CPA & Advisory Firm would hire from came from big accounting firms. “We used to get a lot of experienced employees from that market,” he says.

But that source for new employees has dried up because the big accounting firms have cut their number of employees by 30 percent within the past four years, says Malthouse.

The big accounting firms are now using artificial intelligence and data analytics to replace many of its employees, he says.

Not only has a major source of new employees been downsized, Malthouse says VonLehman CPA & Advisory Firm also has to contend with other accounting firms who are trying to poach its employees.

“I would bet our employees on average probably get reached out to … by headhunters at least once or twice a week,” he says. “You better be the firm of choice for your employees to keep them because I think just about everybody could leave for more money on a daily basis.”

So how does VonLehman CPA & Advisory Firm remain the firm of choice for its employees? In addition to the typical incentives such as flexible schedules, the ability to work remotely and generous paid time off, the company’s new headquarters in Ft. Wright, Kentucky, provides an inviting and collaborative work environment for its employees, says Malthouse.

Design features include 10-foot ceilings, 9-feet-tall glass windows, a café that looks like a Starbucks, new furniture, new computers, “huddle rooms” and tall tables that encourage people to gather around and engage in conversation and collaboration.

The building’s design is meant to bring employees at VonLehman CPA & Advisory Firm’s headquarters and its Ohio office in Kenwood together, says Malthouse. The company is also building a new office with many of the same features in Indianapolis.

In addition, the new office building is available to the company’s community partners and clients at no charge. “So if they need a training room, if they need a conference room, if it is not booked we open it up,” he says. “That’s gone over quite well.”

VonLehman CPA & Advisory Firm also seeks to become its employees’ firm of choice by promoting its workers to leadership positions through the Future Leaders program, says Kerri Richardson, a shareholder at the firm. “We really are employee-centric and we allow people to grow their profession,” she says.

VonLehman CPA & Advisory Firm has been successful in promoting both men and women into leadership roles, says Richardson. “We are looking at maintaining a diverse and equitable and inclusive leadership,” she says.


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