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How Recruiters Are Overcoming Accounting Recruitment and Retention Challenges

How Recruiters Are Overcoming Accounting Recruitment and Retention Challenges
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The accounting profession is one of the most competitive industries when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent. With millions of Baby Boomers retiring each year, a declining number of students graduating with accounting degrees, and the demand for accounting services increasing, there is a growing need for qualified accountants. However, recruiters face several challenges when trying to fill these positions.

Below, we explore some of these challenges and how recruiters are overcoming them.


Overcoming supply chain issues in accounting recruiting

One of the biggest challenges recruiters face when filling accounting positions is the lack of qualified candidates.

According to the AICPA's 2021 Trends report, the supply of accounting graduates is trending downward. In the 2019/2020 academic year, the number of students graduating with bachelor's degrees in accounting decreased by 2.8%, and the number of master's graduates fell by 8.4%.

This is due, at least in part, to a branding issue. In recent years, headlines have predicted the rise of robo-accountants and job loss as artificial intelligence and machine learning automate accounting and bookkeeping processes. And accounting is nearly synonymous with long hours and a lack of work/life balance. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that many college students choose to pursue other majors. As a result, there are not enough qualified candidates to fill all the open positions—and the issue isn't going away any time soon.

One of the ways recruiters are overcoming this challenge is to expand hiring to include non-accounting graduates. In fact, non-accounting college graduates comprised 31% of new hires in public accounting forms in 2019.

So, where might a non-accounting professional fit in an accounting firm or accounting department? As the accounting landscape changes due to technology and modern accounting software development, organizations may find themselves in need of data analysts, sales experts, HR professionals, compliance analysts, statisticians, industry consultants, wealth advisors, or business development experts.

Another way recruiters overcome this challenge is by partnering with colleges and universities to create internship programs for college students. This provides exposure to the profession and can encourage students to pursue or stick with an accounting major. It also allows companies to identify potential candidates for full-time positions after graduation.

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Plugging the leaky talent bucket

Another challenge that recruiters face is the high turnover rate in the accounting profession. According to a 2022 Deloitte's Center for Controllership poll, 82% of public accounting firms and 69% of private companies said retention issues were a big problem.

Many accountants leave their jobs because they are dissatisfied with their work-life balance, don't see a clear career path in the industry, or feel they're not being paid enough. And while some attrition from accounting firms benefits private companies, many people get out of the industry altogether, opting for careers in teaching, government, technology, law enforcement, or entrepreneurship. As a result, organizations are constantly searching for new talent to replace those who have left.

Many employee retention strategies can help companies build a cohesive team that will stick around. Some ideas for improving retention include:

Offering competitive salaries and benefits

When employees feel like they are being paid well and their needs are being met, they are more likely to stay with the company. Leverage accounting salary guides published by Robert Half or Randstad to ensure you're paying valuable talent well. In addition to standard benefits such as health, dental, and vision insurance and retirement savings, offer sought-after perks like remote work, generous paid time off policies, flexible hours, student loan assistance, wellness programs, and paid family leave.

Recognizing achievements

When people work hard to help the organization grow, it's important to acknowledge their success. This shows the company values its employees and their contributions. It also helps to boost morale and keep employees engaged. Recognition can take many forms, such as verbal praise, public recognition, awards, or financial bonuses. With Workmates, any team member can recognize employee contributions, creating a snowball effect of positive reinforcement throughout your organization.

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Equipping people with the right tools

If you want to retain qualified professionals, provide them with opportunities to work with modern technology, including accounting software and integrated applications, to help with close management, reconciliations, workflow automation, and more. Without these necessary resources, accounting professionals spend hours on repetitive, manual tasks instead of elevating their roles and talented, ambitious people will likely look for employment elsewhere.

Support career growth

Supporting professional development and career progression sends the message that the organization values its employees and wants them to grow and succeed. It can also help keep talented professionals from leaving for other opportunities. Consider offering continuing education courses or reimbursement for outside classes. These learning opportunities should help employees develop core success skills such as communication, critical thinking, project management, collaboration, and time management in addition to technical accounting skills.

Recruitment and retention challenges in accounting will be around for a while. However, by recognizing what employees want and finding creative ways to meet their needs, recruiters can overcome these challenges and find the qualified candidates businesses need to thrive.

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Author Bio:

This article is written by a marketing team member at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of proven HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee communications & engagement, and rewards & recognition. Our user-friendly software increases employee productivity, delivers time and cost savings, and minimizes compliance risk.

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