How Does Your Workforce Management Stack Up in the New Economy?

Workforce management is a quadruple play. You need to hire the right employee who has the right skills for the right job at the right time. That’s a lot of rights, right? And it’s why you don’t want to get it wrong. Additionally, in a market that’s heating up, skilled workers are in high demand, which means you’ve got to compete with other organizations for the best candidates. Are you ready?  

One of the findings of the 2014 Benchmarking the Accounting and Finance Function report released by Robert Half and Financial Executives International (FEI) is that survey respondents are using more interim and contract workers to maintain flexible staffing options. (The report provides benchmarking data based on input from nearly 1,600 finance and accounting executives at public and private organizations in the United States and Canada.) Here are some highlights from the Workforce Management portion of the report that can help you align appropriate staffing levels with high productivity and quality service, while keeping personnel costs in check.


What do we learn from the report?

Dependence on temporary and project professionals as part of the workforce mix is a growing trend among employers. The median percentage of the U.S. workforce who are temporary or project workers this year is 8 percent, based on the survey responses. In Canada, it’s 5 percent. We found it interesting that the percentage of interim professionals is highest at smaller companies, suggesting that these firms depend more on interim, contract and temporary resources than do larger organizations.

Here are some of the key report findings:

  • Accounting and finance managers in the United States work an average of 47 hours per week, while nonmanagement staff work 42 hours. In Canada, managers typically work 46 hours weekly, while nonmanagement staff work 40 hours.
  • Firms are utilizing temporary and project professionals to access specialized finance skills not available internally, augment staff and evaluate potential hires.
  • More than half (59 percent) of U.S. companies and two-thirds (66 percent) of Canadian companies surveyed still reconcile accounts manually, placing a strain on staff and resources.


What are the main reasons companies engage temporary professionals?

Using a mix of full-time staff and temporary or project professionals is a flexible staffing option that is increasingly attractive to many employers as a tool for controlling costs and raising productivity. Key reasons for this include:     

  • Hard-to-forecast demand: Senior management reports that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to forecast demand for their organizations’ products and services. This is a direct result of the most recent recession, as many customers are still hesitant to make long-term plans. Therefore, organizations delay hiring decisions to hang onto cash. However, this can lead to stressed-out staff and the inability to meet necessary accounting and finance responsibilities. Interim professionals help organizations ease the burden on their full-time staff and stay on top of deadlines.
  • More competition: Employees are in the driver’s seat as the economy improves, which can affect retention and recruitment. Financial professionals are exploring greener pastures that may include greater compensation, more perks or expanded opportunities. Additionally, exiting staff quickly leave holes in your workforce. Knowledgeable consultants and temporary professionals can help staff necessary positions during your recruitment efforts.


Looking ahead, businesses must continue to secure the talent they need to pursue ambitious goals. When companies need expert talent, they need it immediately. A staffing firm that specializes in accounting and finance professionals can help you maintain the staff you require to grow your organization.  


For more information about workforce management, listen to the complete 2014 webinar: Benchmarking the Accounting and Finance Function. Also, share your insights on workforce management and experiences with temporary professionals in the comments section.