Posted by Cheri O'Neil on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - 10:00
By now, managers and executives in accounting and finance are well aware that their industry is dealing with a serious talent shortage of professionals with specialized skill sets. Most also know that offering competitive compensation is important when it comes to recruiting skilled employees. But job seekers are after more than money, and employers need to look beyond salary if they want to attract top talent.
In a study from Robert Half and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), high-performing candidates said they consider factors such as work-life balance and the potential for advancement and promotions, along with base salary, when looking for work.
Download the survey results in The People Puzzle: Building and Retaining a Talented Accounting and Finance Team.
If you seriously want to attract top talent, follow these five suggestions:
1. More than money: Consider other factors
In the report, CPAs highlighted four main factors besides salary that they would consider when evaluating a job offer:
- Work-life balance perks (cited by 55 percent of respondents)
- Career advancement opportunities (37 percent)
- Company culture and values (30 percent)
- Nature and actual duties of the job (28 percent)
None of these quite matched base salary (valued by 76 percent of CPAs), but all were reported with enough frequency that any one or two of them might make a decent salary offer look better by their inclusion (or worse by their absence).
Read Work-Life Balance as Part of an Employee Retention Strategy and see the results of our study on work-life balance.
2. Understand generational differences
The report revealed a generation gap, with several differences between among the factors valued by candidates of different ages. Employees in the 18- to- 34 and 35- to- 44 age ranges, for instance, valued work-life balance most highly (60 percent and 62 percent, respectively). They were also the most likely to value advancement and/or want to become a manager, and the most likely to seek out companies that pay for or subsidize professional training and certification.
Employees ages 45-64, on the other hand, put more value in the nature and duties of the job, showing great interest in taking on more challenging projects in their current position.
Learn more about generations Y and Z by reading How to Recruit and Retain Millennials at Your Workplace.
3. Consider the size of your firm
The report also examined what employees at different-size companies valued. Small companies (one to 250 employees) tended to attract employees concerned with certain perks, like the ability to work flexible hours. They were also more interested in finding a company culture they connected with than workers at larger companies.
Employees at very large companies (10,000+ employees) were also concerned with work-life balance, but they put more stock in the potential for advancement and promotion than in company culture.
Knowing this, smaller firms should emphasize what makes them lean and flexible, while larger businesses will want to promote their opportunities for professional growth to potential hires.
Check out the career advice job seekers are getting with regard to company size by reading Accounting and Finance Jobs at Small and Large Companies: Does Size Matter?
4. Don’t forget about culture
Interestingly, certain aspects of company culture were important across the board, suggesting that skilled professionals of all ages want to find a culture where they fit in and feel comfortable. For example, the presence of supportive managers was universally reported as critical, and having friendly coworkers was a top priority to all but the most senior respondents from the largest firms.
Your company mission statement is what you do. Your company culture is how you go about doing it. Find out How to Put Company Culture at the Heart of Hiring.
The lesson? If you’ve got a company culture that’s more like a family, if you like to groom new candidates to be promoted quickly, if you make the extra effort to ensure your employees have balanced lives, or if you do anything else creative and unique within your company, you should play up those pluses for all they’re worth.
Editor's note: This post was updated in 2016 to reflect more current information.