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How to Retain and Develop the Best Talent in the Modern, Moving Market

In order to nurture and retain young talent, accountancy firms need to look to developing reputation and building a modern profile.

43% of senior managers with hiring responsibilities in the accountancy sector are worried about losing talented individuals. Accountancy practices are finding themselves in a position where they have no choice but to develop a better strategy for nurturing and retaining talent, leaving fewer skill gaps in their business. If your workforce is not engaged or actively encouraged to develop their talent, their heads are far more likely to be turned and they will start to look elsewhere.

The top three methods accounting firms are deploying in order to maintain and grow talent levels are:

  1. 1. Training and development (54%)
  2. 2. Internal promotion (39%)
  3. 3. Flexible working (36%)

So what should your practice be offering employees?

Provide the right training opportunities

Employee development is a key factor in improving retention and therefore modernising and staying competitive, as it proves commitment to staff. The first step is to undertake a skills audit, which would include consideration of succession planning. This will identify any gaps in the skillset and give an outline of what training courses are necessary.

While a day out of the office at a training course might suit some staff, others may prefer to go down the e-learning route. This minimises time spent traveling to courses and conferences and lets users learn at their own pace, allowing users to focus on what is really relevant to their role.

It’s important to realise that the typical ‘Generation Y’ financial professional wants more than just a basic accountancy skillset - they are looking to develop their training into broader business acumen which will enable them to follow more dynamic career paths, as well as general skills and abilities including leadership, time management and assertiveness training and skills development. In order for your practice to develop these true modern characteristics, you must be willing to provide the right development opportunities.

Look after your values and ambassadors

To attract talent, the image of the organisation is crucial, and by positioning yourself as an attractive brand with strong values that reflect those of their employees is vital to aligning their futures with those of your practice.

Nadim Choudhury, the head of career services at London School of Business & Finance has highlighted strong values as a key factor in the eyes of the next generation of young accountants: “Values are increasingly important. People are looking at capitalism slightly differently and there is a growing culture among young graduates of being drawn towards CSR.”

Remember also that among the best external ambassadors of any business are its former employees. Many of these will go on to work for similar organisations on other sectors, competitors maybe, and will come into contact with your organisation’s possible future employees - that they feel well treated by you is key.

Enable employees to work flexibly and collaboratively

Ensuring modern systems and processes are in place is invaluable when it comes to building a modern work environment which encourages employee retention. Modern professionals shouldn’t have to trawl their email for scans of invoices, let alone sort through hard copies of accounting records. Accounting solutions have moved to the cloud, allowing online document storage, instant access from any device and full FCA compliance - meaning more flexibility and ease for staff. Accountancy firms can choose to run all their IT through a private cloud provider, from the very basics like email and Microsoft Word through to all the major accounting software systems.

The key attraction for staff is that they can access the system from anywhere, on any device. Nearly 70% of employees who own a smartphone or tablet choose to use it to access corporate data, facilitating the options of working from home or working on the go. The possibility of working flexibly can have a huge effect on employee morale, especially when it comes to the younger generations who look far more positively on an employer who supports their mobile device.

Takeaways

  1. Build training programmes around skill gaps, as well as the long-term goals of your staff.
  2. Develop strong brand values which are recognisable and which speak to employees.
  3. Maintain good relationships with ex-employees and other potential brand ambassadors.
  4. Choose an IT system which facilitates flexible working and streamlines daily activities.

Get your free eGuide now: The key characteristics of a modern, profitable accountancy practice

Dr James Huntington Managing Director

James is the Founder and Managing Director at IT Farm. His background in Computer Science help lay the foundation for IT Farm to become one of the UK's first Cloud Computing Companies.

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