The Great WFH Debate – Companies Must Adapt

The “great resignation” is here and there is no time to waste. Employers around the country are scrambling to assess how their legacy recruitment models match the current climate of remote and hybrid working.

Benchmark Search is in the trenches alongside our clients, and we have been spending the last 15 months building strategies to help clients find their way through the mire of changing working expectations.

How employers in the accounting and finance sector approach this debate is unique to our field. Unemployment is low, pent-up turnover is on the rise, and the occupational outlook is very positive. This means our market is an exaggerated candidate market. Prospective employees know they are in demand and, generally, only move jobs when the offer meets and exceeds their expectations. Counteroffers are rife, so your offer has to be gold standard.

But with some form of remote working now being one of the primary driving forces of candidates on the job move, clients have to be sensitive to this new working normal. Re-strategizing your hiring model in the wake of COVID-19 should have already happened, but now is the time to establish a remote working approach that fits your business model, your growth plans, and your future.

Let’s talk availability

  • As mentioned above, most accountants (the very best in class, at least) are gainfully employed. While this article isn’t necessarily discussing how to approach passive candidates, it’s worth noting that your passive network (IE your employer brand and your candidate and industry advocacy) will do much of the heavy lifting for you. If you communicate your hybrid approach to work and ground it with tangible value (IE how your working community, staff, customers and stakeholders all agree and support it) prospective candidates will have no problem deducing if they want to work in your company.

Include your team and be proactive

  • Your employees will be talking about remote working. Whether they’ve done it already, are chatting openly on Teams or Slack, or doing so on private WhatsApp chats, you’re building attitudes and a new culture of work without knowing it.
  • Team advocacy for your remote working plans is, obviously, an absolute must: there have been enough stories about the collective protest against companies unilaterally deciding on a full return to work policy to last a lifetime. So listen to your employee’s stories, learn from them, and adapt accordingly. It’s not just good leadership, it’s an essential part of how you retain talent.

Retain Retain Retain

  • Recruitment is more competitive than ever, especially in the finance and accounting sectors. Being able to hold onto your best in class is not only good for business, but a sign to your wider employee network that you’re a supportive, flexible employer, and employers are benefiting from being flexible to meet candidate demands.

Don’t just figure it out

  • You cannot afford to go with the flow – candidates deserve a remote work (or lack of) value proposition to be well communicated and committed to. This is making sure you’re approaching this debate from a position of deliverables.
  • You know what you need from your employees to guarantee smooth business, you’ve discussed the options available, you have community buy-in, and you deliver on it. It may take some hard conversations, and potentially a period of getting it wrong before you get it right, but you need to do it.

Whatever your flexibility means, make a plan to commit to it, and make a plan to meet the demands of the new normal with achievable, long-term changes. Benchmark has had clients retain 90% of their team in the office, others who have started introducing WFH days like sick days or leave days, and others who are completely flexible and happy for employees to make a decision that suits them.

What you need to do is understand what’s right for you, communicate to everyone, and stick to it. 

Troy Ashby is the founder and president of Benchmark Search, a Dallas-based firm specializing in direct hire recruiting, executive search, and temporary staffing for accounting and finance professionals. With more than 20 years of professional service experience, including more than a decade with one of the nation’s largest recruiting firms, Ashby established Benchmark Search on the bedrock belief that exceptional people, progressive culture, and an unrelenting devotion to serving clients is the formula for developing deep and transformational relationships.