Looking to hire an accountant? Be prepared to highlight your company’s tech strategy and office work location policy.
These are some of the new workforce trends — combined with fewer students pursuing CPA degrees — that are changing the entire hiring and retention game as we know it. For organizations that hire accounting and finance professionals, they also bring new challenges.
As a hiring manager, understanding how these changes can impact your company (for better or worse) is crucial. Here we break down top hiring trends, the challenges they present, and recruiting strategies that will keep your company ahead of the competition.
Trend 1: The Hybrid and Virtual Accountant
Only a quarter of accounting and finance professionals prefer to work onsite 100% of the time.
- 63% express a strong preference for hybrid work setups
- 47% of professionals are aiming for fully remote positions
Yet, as KarbonHQ reports, more businesses are rolling back the pandemic era allowances of fully remote work and have implemented varying return-to-work policies.
Not having flexible work policies in place could limit your candidate pool and negatively affect employee retention — not ideal in an increasingly competitive market.
Communication barriers and a general disconnect among employees are also of concern. It’s easier to pop into someone’s office as questions arise or grab a quick signature, even connect with a coworker during a quick coffee refill in the break room.
Dealing with confidential company information and financials, companies also grapple with how to maintain data security when employees are working and sharing files remotely.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that remote and hybrid work setups are easy to implement and even result in happier, more productive employees (to the tune of 77%).
Secure collaboration tools and effective communication channels can help keep everyone connected and on track, such as:
- Wrike for project management and time tracking
- Slack and Google group chats for real-time questions and conversations
- Google Meet and Zoom for team meetings
- Docusign for electronic signatures
For some companies, a flexible work arrangement policy also requires a change in mindset among leadership. Bodies in the office do not necessarily make employees more productive. Stressful commutes, multiple interruptions, and extra chatty co-workers can impact onsite work quality and quantity.
Focusing on results and consistently meeting set deadlines — rather than attendance and maintaining a traditional 9-5 workday — is beneficial for employees, candidates, and ultimately, your company’s bottom line.
Trend 2: The Demand for Tech-Savvy Accountants
Technology is making the accounting and finance industry fast, efficient, and incredibly cost-effective — and 99% of CFOs believe that it will play a major role in their candidate attraction and employee retention strategies.
That’s because today’s accounting professionals want meaningful work — work that doesn’t necessarily include manual data compilation and tedious spreadsheet management.
Companies who implement new technologies will need tech-savvy accounting professionals who can use them to the company’s advantage.
- General ledger technology and workflow automation are the leading tech investments by finance executives who have their sights set on a real-time close by 2025.
- Enterprise Resource Planning software harmonizes a multitude of datasets into a single system, combining information from several areas of your business and providing ample insights to drive planning and decision making.
- Machine learning helps automate repetitive tasks and reduces (or eliminates) errors that need human intervention.
Streamlining these tasks allows accountants to take a more analytical and data-centric approach in their roles, making them valued key players in recognizing trends and strategy development.
Many professionals are scrambling to catch up with new technology, as it requires a steep learning curve to adapt to these new platforms. This shift won’t happen overnight.
For the employees who hone their technical skills sooner rather than later, competition for their talent will be fierce.
Embrace technological advancements within your organization and provide a clear path for growth for employees.
Training programs, upskilling initiatives, and strategic community partnerships can help bridge the skills gap and ensure your company has continuous access to accounting professionals with the right technical expertise.
Additionally, you could join the 30% of accounting firms who hire contract workers with the needed skill sets.
Trend 3: Retention Frustrations
It’s not just about attracting technically skilled accountants; it’s about keeping your workforce engaged and motivated.
According to a Deloitte survey, more than 80% of public finance and accounting company hiring managers agree that employee retention is a major concern, citing:
- About half of professionals leaving for higher paying jobs
- A notable amount are leaving due to promotions
- A small percentage of employees are shifting into new careers altogether
Honorable mention goes to retiring baby boomers.
While retention is not a new challenge (nor is it limited to the accounting profession), the steady decline in the number of graduating accountants is.
Contributing factors include:
- Changing workforce preferences of young professionals, who value work-life balance over the traditional long hours accounting is known for
- Higher pay than typical public accounting firm salaries
- Lack of diversity in a notoriously non-diverse industry
- Lengthy and costly process to obtain a CPA
Invest in your employees. Offer things like:
- Competitive compensation
- CPA licensure assistance
- Professional development opportunities
- Workplace flexibility
- Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, including hiring practices
- Work-life balance
Lastly, it never hurts to ask your employees what they want — and accommodate as best you can.
Finding the Right Balance
Hiring the right accounting professionals is as complex as it’s ever been, thanks to shifting workforce preferences, tech advancements, and retention challenges. To stay competitive, hiring managers must quickly adapt and innovate.
As exciting as these tech advancements are, it’s important for organizations to strike the right balance between automation and human capital. Efficiencies will not make humans obsolete in the accounting profession — our reasoning, logic, and decision-making skills are still very much needed when it comes to strategizing and consulting.
Need a Team-Centric Approach?
When you’re ready to hire an accountant, partnering with expert recruiters like Alliance Solutions Group can help your organization navigate the evolving trends of candidate attraction and employee retention. If you’re a hiring manager in the accounting and finance sector, explore how your company could benefit from ASG’s best-in-class technology, connections, and processes.