The People Puzzle: Hiring the Best and Motivating Them to Stay

Building a talented team – and keeping them long-term – can sometimes feel like you’re solving a complex puzzle. Whether your organization is a national powerhouse or a local small business, it’s an ongoing challenge for most companies to retain their best and brightest. According to the most recent Twin Cities Professional Employment Forecast from Robert Half, the majority of chief financial officers surveyed (65 percent) said it’s at least somewhat challenging to find skilled candidates for professional-level positions today.

To help you put the pieces together, Robert Half and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) surveyed accounting and finance staff to learn what attracts them to work for a company and motivates them to stay. The survey results can be viewed in the newly released report, The People Puzzle: Building and Retaining a Talented Accounting and Finance Team. Here are some key findings:


  • Work-life balance perks (55 percent) and opportunities for career advancement (37 percent) were the top two considerations when evaluating a job offer, after salary.


  • Nearly three in ten (29 percent) respondents rated their company’s onboarding process a one or two, while only 7 percent rated it a perfect five.
  • Twenty-eight percent said their preferred way to learn is through on-site workshops or brown-bag sessions. Another 23 percent favored off-site conferences or seminars.


  • Top contributors to job satisfaction include a supportive manager (cited by 21 percent of respondents), friendly coworkers (16 percent) and flexible work hours (15 percent).


  • More than three in 10 (31 percent) said they want to stay in their current position but build their skills and take on new projects, and another 29 percent would like to be a manager.

“When it comes to attracting talent and retention of talent, managers often overlook the fact that professionals are looking for authentic leaders who are self-aware, and who seek out input from their teams,” said Steve Kenney, Regional Vice President of Robert Half Finance & Accounting in Minneapolis. “Employees don’t necessarily need the latest trendy benefits or to get their way all the time – what they really want is to know that their ideas and perspectives are heard and considered.”

Download the full survey results for more insights into recruitment and retention strategies to build your team. You can also access a breakdown of results by respondent age and company size.

Do you know what motivates your people in the workplace? Share in the comments section below.