Latest salary survey shows that, for accountants, it's not all about the money

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A recent survey developed by Robert Half International suggests that successfully wooing job candidates takes more than salary alone. While 37 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said offering higher compensation than competitors is the most effective incentive for attracting accounting professionals, nearly as many (33 percent) felt the benefits package had the greatest influence, up from just 2 percent five years ago.

The findings also suggest traditional incentives are a higher priority today: While the popularity of benefits surged, the number of financial executives who feel telecommuting and flexible work schedules are the top draw fell 20 points, from 33 percent in 2003 to 13 percent in 2008.

Robert Half International (RHI) is the world's first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. The survey was conducted for RHI by an independent research firm. It was based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CFOs across the United States from a random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

The survey results further suggest that rising medical costs have increased the value workers place on healthcare benefits options, and employers need to respond accordingly. "Companies that do not provide comprehensive employment packages, including competitive compensation and insurance programs, risk losing top job candidates to other opportunities," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of Human Resources Kit For Dummies, 2nd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

CFOs were asked, "In your opinion, which one of the following incentives is most effective in attracting top accounting candidates?" Their responses:

2008 2003
Higher salaries than competitors 37% 46%
Benefits package/insurance 33% 2%
Telecommuting and/or flexible work schedules 13% 33%
Signing bonuses 4% 5%
Extra vacation days 4% 3%
Other 1% 3%
None/not offering any 4% 0%
Don't know/no answer 4% 8%
100% 100%

Messmer added, "Whether it's higher salaries and enhanced healthcare coverage or accelerated career-advancement opportunities, employers should determine and effectively communicate what makes their company a great place to work when speaking with prospective employees."

About the Survey
For the study to be statistically representative and ensure that companies from all segments are represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region and employee size. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportions of employee size within each region.

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