As the economy continues to recover and unemployment in many sectors has lowered significantly, U.S. accounting and finance professionals are finding themselves in the power seat. So it’s not surprising that 43 percent of managers interviewed for a Robert Half survey said they are seeing more requests for raises and promotions compared to two years ago.
Accounting and finance employees realize their skills are in demand and are confident that if current employers don’t meet their expectations, they’ll be able to find advancement opportunities and salary increases elsewhere.
Don’t get caught off guard by your staff’s requests. Assume they are coming and lay the groundwork now. Here are five steps for retaining your accounting and finance talent, including tips for enhancing their compensation packages.
1. Be aware of compensation trends
The top reason good workers leave, according to both CFOs and employees, is feeling that their salary and benefits are inadequate, according to recent Robert Half research. To keep your staff satisfied, familiarize yourself with the latest salary data and hiring trends.
When you know the going compensation ranges for candidates starting in various accounting positions, you’ll be in a better position to anticipate raise requests — and understand what salaries they are likely to be offered elsewhere.
Use our Salary Calculator to search this year’s starting salaries by title and location to find ranges for staff your team can’t afford to lose. If their wages are on the lower end of the range, bringing them up to the upper percentiles will help with retention.
2. Budget for raises
Human capital — salary, benefits, bonuses — is often the largest expense in any company. As you plan your annual budget, make sure it’s flexible enough to accommodate salary increases. Doing so will ensure you can accommodate requests for raises. Otherwise, you could risk losing top performers.
3. Be generous with perks
Salary is only one part of an employee’s compensation package. If you’re unable to meet demands for a raise, other incentives may encourage staff to stay:
More paid time off. Your staff members work hard, and they deserve enough time to refresh and recharge. Work-life balance is a key factor in avoiding burnout, so give them more opportunities to get away from the office.
But extra vacation or personal days won’t do much good if your corporate culture tacitly discourages them. Set a good example for your staff by taking time off on a regular basis.
Remote work options. Many professionals are busy juggling work and family and place a greater emphasis on blending — not balancing — their career with other aspects of their lives. As a result, the option to telecommute is a perk many employees prize and will fight to keep.
Even if there’s not enough money for salary increases, you can still keep good workers from leaving by offering retention and performance bonuses.
Profit sharing. Not only does this perk provide employees with more money in their pocket, it also gives them a sense of ownership. This can strengthen their motivation and loyalty to the company.
4. Show them the path
The second top reason companies lose good workers is that staff members feel opportunities for advancement are limited where they are. Reduce turnover by discussing career paths with your star employees. Let them know the company values their contributions and has plans for their future.
Career progression is a crucial factor in workplace satisfaction, and employers need to address this issue lest their staff look for better titles and more challenges elsewhere.
5. Offer more training
Your best workers want to constantly add to their skill set. Not only is professional development a way to keep their abilities sharp, it’s often a prerequisite if they want to move up the career ladder and increase their earning potential.
Encourage them to attain in-demand credentials, such as the CPA, CGMA (chartered global management accountant), CFA (charted financial analyst) and CIA (certified internal auditor). If their aspirations include senior management, an advanced degree — especially the MBA — is highly valued.
Skilled accounting and finance workers have many job options in today’s economy. To avoid losing your top talent, give them just as many opportunities within your company.
When you’re proactive and generous, and take time to understand the professional needs and expectations of your accounting and finance staff, you will be well positioned to keep your dream team intact and productive.
Tim Hird is the executive director of Robert Half Management Resources.