Once backward-looking, transactional and reporting-obsessed, today’s top finance and accounting professionals look a bit different: They’re hands on and strategic, offering a mix of analysis and predictions. That is, they’re essential players across virtually every area of your business — and you can’t afford to lose them. 

In that context, rethinking your approach to employee retention has probably never been as important — and these seven tips, insights and strategies for finance and accounting employers are a great way to get started.

1. offer flexibility

Eager to move the needle on retention? Look no further than flexible work arrangements, which have become critically connected to your most important retention outcomes.  

The data tells the whole story: We’re at a point where the majority (64%) of employees would consider quitting if asked to return to the office on a full-time basis, according to a recent survey. Which is, ahem, nearly two-thirds of the workforce. 

If your organization has a bullish back-to-office strategy, however, it’s important to bear in mind that “flexibility” doesn’t necessarily mean any one thing at the moment. Rather, it can take a lot of different forms — and while most finance and accounting employees aren’t clamoring for 100 percent remote work arrangements, the option to work remotely, at least some of the time, should be on the table.

Other ways of increasing flexibility that might pay dividends in terms of retention: 

  • offering asynchronous work arrangements
  • deploying cloud-based collaboration platforms
  • leveraging in-office tech and tools that cater to hybrid teams 
  • consulting with a workforce management partner on best practices to drive outcomes

One final tip: Once you’ve aligned on your flexible work plan, be sure to effectively communicate it to everyone in your organization. Otherwise, highly-valued finance and accounting resources might jump ship simply because they’re tired of operating in a state of limbo.

woman smiling at his desk
woman smiling at his desk

2. roll out more robust training

Creating self-service portals for customers. Migrating mission-critical business applications. Deploying robotic process automation technologies. The reality is that few departments have been hit so hard (or so fast) by digital transformation as finance and accounting teams. And the corresponding reality is that you can and should take steps to make their transition easier. 

The logic, at least where retention is concerned, is hard to argue with. Take the results of this Gallup poll, for example, which found that nearly half of all employees would leave their jobs for new employers if it meant gaining access to more robust training and development opportunities. 

If you aren’t sure where to begin, analyzing your existing onboarding processes is probably a wise first step. After all, that’s where the seeds of retention or attrition are usually planted, and it’s where you should lay out the resources available to employees, along with a vision of how you plan to support their development during each subsequent stage of their tenure. In fact, this exercise might prove to be as valuable for you as it is for your employees.

3. don’t tolerate bad managers

Who likes working for a bad boss? The answer is “no one.” Of course, that doesn’t modify the potentially catastrophic consequences that poor management practices can have from an employee retention standpoint, especially at a moment like the present characterized by sky-high turnover.

Don’t believe us? One survey of 2,000 employees found that, among employees who believe they’re currently being managed by a bad boss, 63 percent said they plan to leave within the year.

So if your organization’s retention woes stem in part from bad leadership, it’s time to take corrective action — and quickly. Sometimes the problem can be solved through intervention and retraining, other times, you may need to reshuffle managerial personnel to put leaders in positions where their style better matches that of their teams. Creating secure, anonymous feedback channels for workers is critical to ensure you get an accurate picture of managerial dynamics on your worksite.

4. emphasize meaningful, purpose-driven work

Recent research from McKinsey confirms that meaningful work — specifically, work that feels valued by the organization, together with a sense of belonging in the workplace — is a major retention driver. You can see that clearly playing out in the following findings from Deloitte:

  • Nearly three out of four employees who plan to stay with their employers think their talents are appreciated by their employers on a day-to-day basis.
  • Conversely, 42 percent who planned to switch jobs said that their skills weren’t being fully utilized by their employers.

This is a broad-based issue, of course, not one that’s specific to finance and accounting teams. Still, findings like these underscore the importance of sharing high-level goals with your employees, explaining how their roles connect to your business strategy and outcomes — and recognizing and rewarding those contributions whenever possible (a point we’ll revisit in a moment).

two colleagues talking in the office
two colleagues talking in the office

5. consider employee recognition programs

Here’s a stat to ponder: Research from the University of Georgia indicates that virtually all accountants — 99 percent — suffer from one or more symptoms of burnout. That is to say, feeling exhausted, overworked, alienated, inefficient or insufficient is pretty much par for the course for a substantial chunk of the finance and accounting workforce today. 

Turnover rates, which remain lower in finance and accounting professions than in most other fields, according to research, may not reflect that yet. But the key word there is probably “yet.” And you should think of employee recognition programs, however simple they sound, as a bulwark against that. Especially for finance and accounting professionals working in hybrid or remote arrangements, they’re a highly effective way of not only increasing engagement but building camaraderie and trust between team members as well.

6. double down on pay and benefits

With unprecedented demand right now for top FP&A talent, you simply can’t afford to be cutting corners where compensation is concerned — and if you aren’t sure where you stand in the market, be sure to consult our latest salary guide. It’ll show you what counts as an acceptable pay grade, or what will move the needle (and what won’t), in your market today. 

In fact, if there’s one takeaway for you to internalize here in the realm of compensation, this might be it: Higher upfront costs for talent acquisition typically translate to lower costs down the line. 

Finally, in terms of benefits, mental health continues to be a key focus area, especially for potentially stressed-out accounting and finance employees. And if you need to make the case internally, just take a step back to survey the external landscape — you’ll likely notice that leading companies in your field are doing so already.

7. work with strategic partners

The tips outlined above will help you get a handle on retention challenges, to be sure, but at the end of the day seeking out a staffing partner may be the savviest approach of all, especially if you’re dealing with vacancies in key finance and accounting roles. After all, it’s the only one that guarantees results right from the outset. 

Want to see how Tatum can deliver value? We’re backed by Randstad, the world’s largest provider of staffing services, so we can help you get you to your short list faster — and we also offer nationwide scope, together with local market expertise, to a degree unmatched by any of our competitors. Set up a meeting to learn how we can deliver immediate bottom-line value to your company.

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