Today’s job market is more competitive than ever. With a growing economy, there is a shrinking candidate pool from which employers can choose employees. As a result, employers are offering benefits and incentives to make their company more appealing than their competitors’. Specialized staffing firm Robert Half International polled chief financial officers throughout the country to see what employees considered the most important factors when choosing a company for which to work. The survey concluded that salary and company stability were the top two factors.
“Currently, there is a strong demand for accounting and finance professionals in the Chicago area,” says Dan Eick, vice president of the Chicago Region of Robert Half International. “CFOs are not only working hard to attract new employees, but also to retain current employees.”
Smart Business spoke with Eick about current recruiting challenges, approaches used to overcome such challenges, and retention practices.
What recruiting challenges are companies facing?
Companies are having difficulty finding skilled candidates to fill positions, especially in the finance and accounting industry. There are shortages for in-demand positions such as staff accountants and internal auditors.
Economic factors such as higher gas prices are also influencing employment decisions because candidates are more reluctant to accept positions that call for a lengthier commute. If there is a long commute, candidates are more likely to negotiate a higher salary or incentives to compensate.
For accounting and finance positions, there is a correlation between the lower number of students enrolled in such majors in universities and the low number of candidates. These majors were once overflowing with students but now are lacking. Combined with the mass exodus of baby boomers from the job market, this has intensified the need for strong candidates.
How can companies overcome these challenges?
Recruitment and retention should be a year-round focus so companies are not left with insufficient staffing levels. Strategic staffing is key. Employers need to develop a plan for their staffing needs so they are not scrambling when an employee leaves the company, retires or gets promoted. Companies may want to consider working with a staffing firm to overcome recruiting challenges.
Strategically, recruiters can help employers find the best talent for their needs. It is beneficial to work with a specialized staffing firm that is an expert in your industry. It is also good to look for a national or international recruiting firm. Not only does this give employers a larger pool to choose from, but it also helps a company looking to expand to new markets.
What are some incentives that employers are using to retain their top people?
While compensation is key, it is also important to develop programs and incentives that give employees the recognition they deserve. Offering flexible schedules, raises and performance-based bonuses are other common retention strategies. Few employees are apt to leave a work environment of supportive colleagues for higher compensation alone.
Simple things such as an employee’s relationship with his or her manager are often overlooked. It is important for managers to take a sincere interest in the people who work for them and the events taking place in their lives. If a manager is working to help an employee reach long-term career goals, employees are more likely to feel appreciated and stay loyal to a company.
Employers can check out the Robert Half International 2007 Salary Guide for recommended salary ranges for all levels of finance and accounting professionals. These types of resources can be used to compensate employees accordingly. This makes employees feel valued and decreases the chance they will leave a company for the competition.
What are key practices for a successful recruiting process?
Recruiting and retention should be a year-round focus. Strategic staffing is key to a successful business so that a company is never scrambling if an employee leaves the business or is promoted to a different position. A staffing plan should be developed and modified by business owners as they monitor company performance and set future goals.
Seasonal workloads should be tracked and monitored by employers to help project when new employees will be needed. If a company is planning to start new projects, staffing should be reviewed to determine what additional resources will be needed to staff new ventures successfully.
Planning is crucial when staffing. If a workload becomes too much for current employees, it can increase employee stress, decrease productivity and increase employee turnover, which in turn affects the overall productivity of a business.
DAN EICK is vice president of the Chicago Region of Robert Half International. Reach him at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org or (847) 882-7866.