Project Manager Boomer Consulting Inc.
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How to Attract & Retain Top Accounting Talent

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As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people were no longer able to safely go into the office, resulting in an explosion of remote work opportunities that gave top accounting and finance professionals more job options than ever before. Jacqueline Lombardo of Boomer Consulting discusses a few ways to attract highly qualified people to your firm.

Mar 12th 2021
Project Manager Boomer Consulting Inc.
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With the recent explosion of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, qualified accountants have more opportunities than ever before. Remote work allows organizations to tap into talent across the nation. It’s broadened candidate pools and increased market competition for top talent. This allows highly qualified candidates to secure higher salaries and more attractive benefits packages in larger markets without ever leaving their home state.

How can your firm compete? The following tips can help.

Provide Project-Based Freelance Opportunities

For years, CPA firms have identified hiring and retaining staff as one of their top challenges. Creating contract-based positions can help firms meet those challenges by giving candidates who don’t want to take on a full-time role – perhaps due to family commitments or a desire for greater work/life balance – the flexibility they want.

The gig economy’s growth has removed any perceived stigma attached to temporary positions, making them more attractive to experienced professionals. These arrangements can also give candidates opportunities for professional growth and development and a chance to expand their skills by working on different projects and different industries.

In fact, there are even organizations out there that specialized in connecting freelance CPA talent with the firms that need them, so you can tap into highly skilled talent on an as-needed basis.

Create a Hybrid Workplace

Over the past year, many employees have warmed to the idea of working from home. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, only one in four remote workers wants to return to the office when the pandemic is over. Of course, there are times when it’s good to work from an office or meet face-to-face with coworkers and clients. A hybrid work environment can provide the best of both worlds.

A hybrid workplace combines remote work with office-based work, giving employees the freedom and autonomy to decide when and where they work. That flexibility is key to attracting and retaining top talent.

As you consider how to bring employees back to the office, think about how, when and where people will work. You don’t have to become a remote-first organization, but providing flexibility and a digital-first mindset will make your firm more attractive to a broad range of talented professionals.

Utilize Your Networks

Your networks aren’t just LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and other social networking platforms. While social media can be a great resource, some other networks that can aid your recruiting efforts include:

  • Employee referral programs. No one knows your organization better than the people doing the work. An employee referral program allows you to find top talent while incentivizing your employees.
  • College career centers. Building a relationship with colleges and universities in your community and even outside your geographic area is a great way to tap into new talent. Think beyond the traditional public and private institutions and reach out to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Community Colleges, Women’s Colleges or Tribal Colleges.
  • Associations. Many colleges have alumni associations you can tap into for recruiting, but professional sorority and fraternity alumni associations may also provide connections. You can also look into industry-specific associations such as the American Accounting Association and the National Association of Black Accountants.
  • Community groups. Do you have any employees who are part of local groups such as Toastmasters, Young Business Professionals or your local Chamber of Commerce? They can be an excellent resource for meeting potential hires.

Many of these networks are holding virtual meetings due to the pandemic, so these can be an easy way to connect current employees with different networks, giving them new learning and development opportunities while broadening your network and increasing your candidate pool.

Provide Internal Opportunities and Recognize Top Talent

Money and compensation packages are top priorities for most new hires and existing employees, but they’re only a piece of the hiring and retention puzzle. People also have passion for the work they do and helping clients.

If you don’t have a culture that supports learning and development opportunities and recognizes top talent from leadership down, you will always struggle to keep up with the competition.

  • Provide clear expectations and career paths. This doesn’t mean everyone is on the path to partner. It simply means employees need to know what career path options are available in your organization and where they stand on those paths. If they desire to be a partner one day, what does that look like? What does it take? If someone doesn’t want to become a partner, can they become a consultant or follow another path? Employees who feel lost on their career path will not feel fulfilled and will ultimately leave the firm.
  • Upskill your talent. Develop your talent to fill the positions you will have open one to five years from now. What roles will help your firm grow? Identifying your employees’ strengths and getting them into the right roles will help them thrive.
  • Protect your talent. Do you have rockstars in your firm that everyone goes to for everything? Protect your top performers by putting processes in place to reduce personal preferences and level their workloads. This helps prevent burnout.
  • Provide recognition. Performance bonuses are always a great motivator, but it’s also great to give real-time recognition. Create a “shout out” system. For example: “Shout out to Sue; she took 10 minutes to walk me through how to upload a document into the portal correctly.” Recognition needs to be part of your overall culture.
  • Promote from within. A promotion doesn’t always have to mean “climbing the corporate ladder.” While promotions can go a long way in terms of job titles, employees can also be eager to take on a new responsibility, lead a new project or take ownership of a firm initiative.

To hire and retain top talent, you have to truly listen and be in touch with what your people want. Some of the top reasons employees quit their jobs are a lack of recognition, being unchallenged in their roles and lack of overall engagement.

Focus on the whole picture, including recognition, connections, compensation and benefits, flexibility, culture and engagement. It’s expensive and time-consuming to recruit new talent, so ensure you’re recognizing and retain the talent you already have.

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