It’s no secret – companies large and small are understaffed in the world of accounting, and management is growing increasingly frustrated. With demand for accounting jobs significantly outpacing supply of qualified candidates, market participants seeking to hire accounting talent often become reactionary and focus on immediate need rather than applying foresight.
While each situation is different, the daily grind often interferes with an employer’s intention to hire and retain top-flight accounting talent. Oftentimes we’re scrambling to plug holes in a boat we’re navigating with only one paddle, when we should instead endeavor to amass the complete toolset needed for smoother sailing.
Let’s take a look at several areas of focus that will help with retention, employee engagement and – ultimately – less hiring.
Culture Is Intentional
An organization’s ability (or inability) to hire begins with culture and employee engagement. While a 2015 Gallup study reported only 32 percent of employees are engaged, it found that 59 percent of those engaged employees are less likely to look for a job in the next 12 months. Creating a culture of strength, trust and “stickiness” matters most to employees. Ultimately, this comes down to relationships. There is a strong positive correlation between how you treat your employees and how your employees in turn serve your customers, directly or indirectly. The bottom line is that your customers will be treated in a manner similar to how you treat your employees. Thus, the essence of The Golden Rule as applied to your employees will pay off in spades in favor of your customers or clients.
Have A Clear Vision
Another key component of culture is having a vision and educating employees on the “why” factor. Understanding the “why” can be transcendental to an employee’s sense of purpose and give meaning to what might otherwise be considered rote daily tasks of a given job. When company vision is widely communicated and thoroughly permeates the essence of a given organization, the natural result is a team of employees who understand their value and roles.
Always Be Learning
Once employers embrace employee growth and retention as a key component of their culture, their hiring paradigm shifts to one of optimization rather than backfilling.
According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, 94 percent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers, and 68 percent of employees prefer to learn while at work. When you create an evolving continuing education culture, you’re giving employees much more than mere employment. Finding opportunities to teach and train your employees will take intentionality and time. Something as simple as paying for their enrollment in an online course may have profound effects on an employee’s ability to grow professionally and develop potentially life-changing industry expertise.
Another opportunity could be to cross-train within your organization. It may be the spark an employee needs to catapult themselves and the organization to new heights. Moreover, structural or budgetary impediments to promotion from within can be overcome by cross-departmental delegation and can breathe new life into curious-minded and ambitious employees.
Take A Broader Look At Benefits
A decade ago, benefits were often a final-stage checkbox for candidates. Today, decisions are often made based on benefits offered, making them both a recruiting and retention tool. You might not be in a position to change healthcare plans or increase the 401(k) match, but I look at benefits in a much broader way.
When you are looking for a competitive advantage in recruiting or retention, consider options such as flexible work hours, additional PTO, catered lunches, working remotely, community service days, and wellness programs. If I were to focus on only one of these, flexibility is one of the key components, especially with today’s technology.
Once you have identified your differentiators, it is imperative that you re-educate your employees on those benefits to reinforce the opportunities.
People approach me often because they’ve had an employee get poached by another company. Plainly stated, your employees are being scouted, recruited, and seduced by hiring managers and recruiters from time to time; other companies are prodding for what might be lacking in their careers and/or their current roles. But employers who view and treat their employees as more of an extension of the organization’s ethos will often be unscathed by these attempts and retain the very employees they’ve embraced.
Feedback? Organizational best practices to share? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments.