FINDING AND KEEPING THE RIGHT PEOPLE - TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN
By Rhys Madoc, CEO, UHY International
Recruitment and retention are always an eternal balancing act for businesses, but there is strong evidence that employment markets in many parts of the world are in a greater state of flux than usual for a variety of reasons. Business leaders’ own observations were reinforced by a recent interview in TIME with LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky, in which he defines what is happening in the employment market as a ‘great reshuffle’, led by Gen Z and Millennials.
LinkedIn profiles show that over the last year, the number of people changing their job is up by more than 50%. While there is likely to have been some reduction in the total workforce, Roslansky’s data suggests the real issue is that people are on the move – and employers had better be prepared, because businesses in all sectors are struggling to recruit the talent they need to thrive in the post-lockdown landscape.
Accountancy is not immune to these fluctuations. UHY’s member firms have reported that recruiting excellent and qualified employees was already becoming more challenging before Covid. The so-called ‘great resignation’ – a re-evaluation of values and life goals triggered by the pandemic – has only accelerated the trend.
One result is that, across the profession, some firms risk having to turn work away because they do not have the necessary resources. Others are having to achieve more with less and are streamlining workflows to mitigate the challenges of a talent shortage.
WORKING HARDER FOR EVERY HIRE
But it is not enough on its own. A productive recruitment funnel remains essential for firms looking to grow. Members of UHY’s global network of accountants are still finding excellent people, but having to work harder for every hire.
Engaging with schools and colleges helps firms to make an early impression.
A starting point for many lies in refining their graduate recruitment programmes. Attracting the next generation of accountancy talent is crucial, and doing so requires a well-defined development roadmap with clear milestones, regular feedback and comprehensive support.
It also benefits from a presence on campus. Some UHY firms are expanding the number of universities they target, and nurturing relationships with academics who can recommend the best and brightest students. They are creating new and innovative ways for students to spend time in UHY offices, through short introductory programmes and longer internships.
Another innovation lies in exploring new areas of recruitment beyond the usual talent pool of university graduates. One of our member firms for example has developed a five-year programme aimed at school leavers that offers support for candidates throughout their post-school academic and professional studies.
FOCUS ON RECRUITMENT
These measures are bearing fruit, but firms also need to hire candidates for more senior roles. Many competitors are doing the same thing and the pressure on salaries means recruitment costs are rising as a result.
Focus is required, and a dedicated in-house recruiter, or a partner with responsibility for recruitment, can help. A number of our member firms successfully use staff referral programmes, where current employees earn bonuses for introducing new hires. Marketing and social media teams should contribute to recruitment campaigns: LinkedIn can be a highly effective channel in this regard.
But above all, I strongly believe that professional firms need to align themselves with what recruits are looking for in an accountancy career. That is changing. A new generation of professionals want clear pathways to progression alongside lifelong learning opportunities.
They also want to work for firms that care about the things they care about, which might include organisations that have fully committed to their environment, social and governance (ESG) reporting as part of a transparent approach to their corporate social responsibility obligations.
To this end, your culture and vision are important. Having environmental or social credentials is one way to attract candidates that care about sustainability, diversity and inclusivity. Increasingly, talented people want to work for companies that share their belief that business can be a force for environmental and social good.
KEEPING THE TALENT YOU ALREADY HAVE
The wisdom of this approach is that it not only helps firms attract good candidates, it helps them keep the talent they already have. What brought them to you should also help to keep them with you – in this way recruitment and retention are two sides of the same coin. A fresh, progressive culture should be part of it, alongside comprehensive training and development resources.
Mentoring is an excellent way to support staff, and employees should have access to the right technology for their roles, to increase efficiency and reduce repetitive manual tasks. A modern well-equipped, welcoming and inspiring office environment is important.
A good retention strategy will mean different things to different people, but its foundation is the same. Business managers should start measuring staff satisfaction rates, if they do not already. Use internal surveys to take regular snapshots of the mood of your employees. Ask for their views and - where possible - act on their feedback.
It is important that you do. Recruitment is unlikely to get easier in the short term, perhaps for far longer. But look after the staff you already have and they will become the best ambassadors for your business.
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