The Future of Work
The Talent Quest: Winning Recruitment Strategies for 2023
About the Author: Katie Thomas, CPA, is a content creator, 2021 & 2022 40 under 40 CPA Practice Advisor recipient, Top 50 Women in Accounting recipient, and the owner of Leaders Online, where they help accounting professionals increase their impact, influence, and income through thought leadership and digital marketing. Feel free to visit Leaders Online or connect with her on LinkedIn to get in touch with Katie.
Attracting top talent is a major challenge for accounting departments in 2023. And according to FloQast and the University of Georgia’s recent research, many accountants are doubtful about their future. Their research, found 53% of accountants are unsure if they’ll stay with their current employer for another 12 months. Of that 53% a majority (65%) were unsure they would stay in the profession in 2-3 years. The research implies a “Great Recalibration,” as accountants are reassessing the elements that contribute to the demanding nature of their work and are actively seeking ways to attain a renewed sense of professional fulfillment. Even if that means changing their profession.
What’s this mean for companies and business leaders?
Companies must go all in to attract and retain top talent in accounting. To do so involves a lot – including evaluating what’s working in terms of culture, technology, and more. In a prior article, I covered what it takes to retain talent, given the current environment. In this article, I’ll focus on how you can attract top talent.
So, when it comes to attracting talent, what really matters?
Covering the basics is important: good pay, benefits, and environment.
But who else is offering the basics? Your competitors. In addition, many professionals consider the reasonableness of wages to the environment. Instead, you need to make sure that your company is at the forefront of innovation, offers growth opportunities, utilizes cutting-edge technology, maximizes fulfillment, and is willing to do more than the competition. This defines the environment which is perhaps the most important variable in attracting talent. Companies winning the talent war are hyper-focused on their brands, think outside the box, and find ways to boost employee referrals.
Businesses that realize attracting top talent is much different today than in the past will fill their ranks with top talent who are dedicated to helping their company grow. The rest? They’re in trouble.
So where should you begin? You need to go beyond the basics and understand what talent wants.
Catering to the True Desires of Accountants
At the core, what do accountants really want?
Before you look to attract new talent, you must first evaluate whether your team’s environment and open positions are supporting fulfilling careers.
There’s a reason that the Great Recession happened: accountants weren’t happy. A shift in the way accountants viewed and valued work changed the landscape for companies. Talent has doubled down on fulfillment, including elements of growth opportunities, technology environment, flexibility, and more than just a higher paycheck.
Based on the research, more than half of accountants struggle to balance their personal and professional commitments. In previous blogs, I have discussed how the financial close is considered a “hero’s journey” and a top contributor to disrupting the work-life balance. However, they are also eager to take on a more strategic role. The amalgamation of these hurdles with the aspiration to take on more serves as a potent catalyst for burnout.
Burnout, in turn, deteriorates fulfillment.
As a result, the key for accounting departments looking to attract talent is at the forefront of removing any obstacles that lead to unfulfilling roles.
But what exactly makes a job fulfilling? FloQast’s research identifies this in as simple terms as possible. Accountants are fulfilled when their work is:
Only 11% of accountants will tell you their work is less fulfilling than they desire. You’re not a mind-reader, but it’s no secret what accountants want:
In 2022, one crucial factor when attracting talent was room for growth. Accountants are no different. They want to know that their hard work can lead to promotions and career advancements. When looking to attract talent, consider the following:
- Having clear career pathways that make candidates aware of the potential career growth within your organization
- Sharing what mentorship and support candidates will receive as a part of that process
- Providing continuous learning opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge
Top talent is attracted to companies that enable them to work from where they want when they want. It’s motivating to have an employer that trusts and respects you enough to get your job done without a manager standing over your shoulder.
Some businesses are concerned that workers aren’t as productive when working remotely; however, the data suggests otherwise. It’s been found that only 7% of workers are most productive while working from a traditional office.
You can create flexibility by:
- Supporting remote work
- Creating a family-friendly atmosphere
- Offering flex time or non-traditional schedules
If you’re a flexible employer, it will help you land the talent necessary to grow your business.
At a time when 72% of workers look for work-life balance when applying for a position, it’s something that you cannot ignore. In fact, 57% of accountants won’t consider a new job if the work-life balance is poor.
My experience with work-life balance is a prime example of its importance. Working 50-60 hours a week leads to neglecting your social life, relationships, health, and happiness. After a while, the long hours cause you to feel burnt out. I know my performance struggled when my work-life balance barely existed, and I’m not the only one. Work-life balance is something we all seek as accountants, but few of us feel as if we actually have it.
In fact, FloQast’s study shows just 36% of accountants are extremely satisfied with their work-life balance.
You can offer a better balance by:
- Improving workflows and processes
- Offering flex-time, as discussed above
- Encouraging employees to take vacations and time off
- Reviewing workloads and helping make them more manageable
- And more
Work-life balance is a must that can’t be ignored when creating positions that top talent is attracted to.
Growth, flexibility, and work-life balance are all important when it comes to fulfilling roles, and a major key to enabling all three of those comes down to technology.
Your technology stack should:
- Enable accountants to grow and move into more strategic roles
- Support flexible working arrangements and promote work-life balance
- Streamline and automate operations while improving workflows and processes
Technology is so vital to accountants that 43% of potential accountants are very likely to ask about a company’s tech when interviewing for a new role. This figure even holds true for all tenure groups.
Companies need to identify and procure purpose-built tech solutions for accountants to help them complete their tasks with greater efficiency and support them in feeling the sense of fulfillment they want in their careers.
You’ll also want to train recruiting teams on how to address tech solution questions and seek out the current, best solutions.
The Way Forward
When it comes to attracting top talent, it’s clear that accountants want fulfilling jobs that offer growth, flexibility, and work-life balance, with technology playing a crucial role in enabling all of those.
But beyond fulfillment, what else should you consider when looking to attract A players to your organization? And how exactly can you locate these people? Stay tuned for part two of this series, where we dive deeper into how to recruit top talent to your organization successfully.