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Have you started planning your workforce strategy for accountancy and finance?

By Maureen Lynch Director of Hays Ireland

The Hays Ireland Salary & Recruiting Trends 2018 guide revealed an extremely positive outlook for the year ahead, with 74% of accountancy and finance employers expecting to increase recruitment more in the coming year. However, despite this positive feeling, both employers and candidates we spoke to felt there were challenges ahead.

Our survey highlighted concerns about the widespread influence of skills shortages in the market. 78% of employers said they had experienced moderate to extreme skills shortages in accountancy and finance last year, impacting productivity and also contributing to stress in the workplace. The shortage of suitable applicants, which three-quarters of employers said was their top recruitment challenge, is particularly impactful on areas showing increased activity, such as payroll, audit, risk and compliance. As a result, this is leading to wage pressures and subsequently increases to salary offerings.

The more acute skill shortages are, the more in-demand talented finance professionals become, leading to further wage pressure and fierce competition to find the required talent. Below I outline three recommendations to help you overcome skills shortages and attract the talent you need:

Make workforce planning a key strategic priority

Planning a workforce for the year ahead needs to be a component of every business strategy. Understanding the wide range of workforce solutions available should be a priority if you want to find the best option for your organisation. If you need a qualified accountant for a particular project, but don’t expect the need to continue, consider a temp. If you need workload support in the short-term, but expect to need more strategic support in the long run, hiring a junior, part-qualified accountant or even an apprentice and investing in their ongoing development may be the best way forward.

By strategically balancing your short and long-term requirements, this will help you to identify the most effective strategies for recruitment, allowing you to slowly diminish effects of the skills shortages while continuing to meet business activity needs and fulfil key objectives.

Become invested in your employer brand to compete for the best talent

Ensuring that you have a strong employer brand has never been more essential given how prevalent skills shortages are. Competition for candidates has intensified and employers should target their offering to appeal to the specific type of candidate they want to attract.

Salary levels need to be benchmarked accurately, while progression opportunities and training investment need to be well-promoted. Employees want to be able to get an insight into what it is truly like to work at your organisation. In particular, make sure you clearly publicise any benefit your organisation can offer which involves flexible working or working from home, as 42% of accountancy and finance professionals currently rate their work-life balance as very poor to average. Professionals who view your organisation as one which values the needs and desires of its employees will be far more likely to apply to your roles.

Utilise contingent workers for more than just projects

Employers should reconsider their approach to hiring temporary workers, and indeed many organisations are already doing so. Instead of using temps to plug gaps, add resource to key projects or react to peaks in demand, they can be used to help alleviate some of the pressure caused by increased workloads.

Temporary professionals hired specifically to handle the everyday tasks in your organisation will free up your permanent staff to work on strategically valuable projects. This will allow your teams to focus on growing your organisation and help you to retain critical knowledge within your business once the project goes live, rather than risk it leaving your business with the temp you employed.

These three techniques will help you plan the best course of action for your organisation. Through making informed decisions, you can not only track down the right talent for your organisation but also improve the morale of your existing employees to help you retain your key talent.

Find out further recruiting trends for the finance profession, request your copy of the latest Hays Ireland Salary & Recruiting Trends guide, or view our previous reports and resources.

To find out more, or to discuss your recruitment needs, please contact your local consultant

About this author

Maureen joined Hays in 2000 where she specialised in Senior Accounting and Finance recruitment. With over 17 years’ experience, Maureen is the Director for Cork, Limerick and Galway along with over overseeing the Banking and Construction & Property operations in Cork. She also provides training expertise in the area of candidate screening and interviewing.

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