The Haines Watts approach to staff retention

03 August 2022

With 2 in 3 UK businesses currently facing severe staffing challenges, finding and keeping the right people has become a key concern for employers all over the country.

When it comes to building your team, retention is essential – hanging on to existing employees is more cost effective, more efficient and more valuable than trying to find new staff in a hot market. However, when there are thousands of jobs out there, businesses have to do more to hang on to important team members.

At Haines Watts, employee experience is a major driver of our business strategy and value-offering for clients. We strive to offer meaningful, impactful work at all levels of the business and to help each team member achieve their goals.

Sara Kani explains how the firm approaches staff progression and development to retain the best talent in a competitive market.


Prioritise career progression

Attention to career development is a key way to not only increase employee motivation and productivity, but also to retain staff. However, many businesses treat it as an afterthought, thinking that development just happens as employees spend more time in the business and around more experienced peers. This can end up with a focus more on individual performance and learning than on career development.

One way to make career progression more concrete is to build structured learning into the pathways of your organisation. At Haines Watts, we’ve built systems to guide team members through their careers with us that ensure they’re regularly acquiring, testing and perfecting new skills.

This starts from the very beginning, bringing in graduates before they’ve acquired their accounting qualifications and supporting them with training programmes to get their full suite of credentials to practice, which is how I joined the business.

From there, I worked in a team, learning from those around me until I became an assistant manager and decided I wanted to go to the next level. At Haines Watts, that means the Manager Skills Programme (MSP). This covered the skills I would need to lead a team, including management styles, delegation and interfacing with the rest of the business.

I then joined the Leadership Development programme, which guides you from manager to Partner level, covering the new skills and competencies required to manage a number of clients and grow the business.

These courses played multiple roles for me:

  1. They matched my skills to my career path, ensuring I was ready to take on each new stage of my journey.

  2. They connected me with peers across the organisation who were taking the same step, giving me a chance to grow my network and see how others approached the challenges I was facing.

  3. They provided a sense of clarity over my future journey and let me plan my career on my terms as I wanted to move forward.

This last point is key. If I’d wanted to, I could also have moved between departments or service lines, adding new skills and working with different types of clients. Haines Watts employees have the chance to direct their own careers, giving a real sense of ownership.


A supportive work environment

Every career has challenges, especially when you’re pushing yourself to acquire new skills and learn as much as you can. Sometimes, you hit a wall and need guidance to find a way forward. In those circumstances, having the right management and advice can make all the difference.

At Haines Watts, a major part of being a leader in the business is to support other members of the team in their work and careers. We take trust as a given, avoiding micromanagement while giving individuals enough responsibility to push themselves and learn as they go, with the knowledge that if they need help it’s available.

Staff will often move between teams so they can experience different environments and also find a manager with whom they click and form strong professional relationships. Once in place, line managers and their direct reports have regular structured as well as informal check-ins to discuss career targets, learning objectives and achievements to find what’s working and what can be improved, for the individual, the team and the company.


A shared culture

Values are a core part of how we work at Haines Watts, defining everything from how we engage with clients to how to conduct ourselves with each other.

The first is valuing relationships – with staff and clients – and giving them the respect and attention they need. Secondly, we pride ourselves on being authentic, bringing our whole selves to the role and to every client project. Finally, we show passion in our work, making sure we’re always delivering for our colleagues and our clients.

These are also values we look for when hiring, making sure we find the right culture fit from new joiners to make sure that they can bring the same integrity to the role that we and our clients demand. These values knit the team together, helping us rely on each other and building our sense of community.

For us, these values are the most important element of every joiner to the business, whether they’re a graduate or a partner. It doesn’t matter your background or qualifications – it matters how you approach your role and the value you can provide for everyone around, and how we can help you develop.


Choosing a career at Haines Watts

Our people are the heart of our value. That’s why we’ve built an approach to careers that empowers, pushes and celebrates our teams at every stage of their career journey. As someone that’s done the journey, I can say it’s been a hugely rewarding experience and one that I can’t wait to guide the next generation through.


If you're interested in joining the team, find out about our latest vacancies here.


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Sara Kani