If your organisation isn't already struggling to attract and keep top talent, odds are it will be at some point over the next ten years. According to a recent Korn Ferry report, an estimated 85 million jobs could go unfilled by 2030 because there won't be enough skilled workers to fill them. That gap would mean unrealised annual revenues and potentially astronomical recruiting expenses.
"At the end of the day, if you don't hire and cultivate great talent, your recruiting expenses are going to be off the charts," said Delores Lenzy-Jones, CPA, CGMA, the CFO of Waterloo Greenway, a concert venue and urban park system in Austin, Texas. "It makes financial sense to nurture your talent by inspiring and motivating team members so they want to stay with your organisation."
Perhaps the best way to avoid falling victim to a potential talent shortage is to make strategic investments in recruitment and retention now. Every organisation invests some amount of money in finding and retaining employees, but if you don't have unlimited funds, you might need to prioritise. Here are the top five areas for talent investment in 2022, according to experts.
Recruiting tools for discovering top talent: For companies that transitioned to a remote or hybrid model during the pandemic, potential talent pools expanded to include the entire world, but that benefit has made it even more difficult to sort through candidates.
Lenzy-Jones recommended setting aside funds for thorough recruitment efforts, perhaps investing in HR consulting services or recruitment fees for companies like Robert Half that specialise in accounting finance professionals.
"Recruiting is a full-time effort, and I think those folks who are specialising in recruiting are better able to draw in those high-quality candidates," Lenzy-Jones said.
She also suggested investing in LinkedIn Recruiter and LinkedIn Premium, which offers access to more individuals than a regular LinkedIn profile, and paying job search sites like Indeed to boost recruitment efforts. She added that joining organisations like your local Chamber of Commerce can provide built-in access to talent pools.
Skills and career development programmes: Talented employees typically want to learn and grow on the job, and the pandemic has increased that desire.
"Investing in talent professional development would be a big win in recruiting and retaining talent in 2022," said Orumé Agbeyegbe Hays, CPA, CGMA, managing director of Hays CPA in New York.
Hays recommended organising in-house training programmes, perhaps hiring experts in the field to onboard finance teams in working across different cloud computing and artificial intelligence platforms. She said the learning platform should be tailored to each team, because while some will be comfortable with remote learning, others struggle with that setting. Reimbursing tuition, certifications, and continuing education fees can also go a long way towards upskilling and retaining top talent.
Ken Merritt, senior client partner with Korn Ferry, based in Washington, D.C., recommended implementing rotational programmes and cross-training to keep employees engaged and continuously growing at your organisation.
"To the extent that you implement those kinds of things, I think you'll retain, but you'll also get folks who will look up and say, 'If I can't get a new job within my current organisation, why not join this organisation who is investing more in their people?'" Merritt said.
Tools for seamless hybrid or remote work: Remote or hybrid work is here to stay for many finance departments, and organisations need to invest in digital tools to avoid frustrated teams.
"Continued investments in technology and tools to help talent who desire to continue to work remotely would go a long way towards the success of everyone," Hays said. "Over the course of the pandemic, I noticed the finance departments who were not as flexible in accommodating this change were not as successful in retaining talent."
Some of the necessary tools for remote work might include platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom to maintain company culture and connect with and manage team members; a bolstered security system to keep sensitive data safe; and any software or gadgets that will make life easier for a dispersed team. Merritt recommended organisations offer to reimburse any purchases employees make related to creating a home office, including desks, chairs, printers, and computer equipment.
"You have to be willing to spend some money to arm the team with the same equipment they might have in the office," he said.
Employee bonus programmes: Bonus programmes are a time-tested way to retain talent, according to Merritt.
Bonuses could be tied to performance or company success, but if possible, they should be extended to everyone in the company or department, he said.
Another way to align employee and organisational goals is through profit-sharing. Merritt worked with one company that he said had a profit-sharing arrangement that made members of the finance team stick around for a long time.
"I thought it was richer than most companies because a lot of companies have profit-sharing for people in the core business, the leaders, but they don't always have them for the support functions," Merritt said. "This company did a nice job of treating everybody the same."
For employees with that company, every year there was a payment towards their retirement that was above and beyond their traditional employer-based plan.
"They truly become invested in the profitability of the company," he said.
Anything that improves organisational culture: Organisations that manage to create a great company culture tend to have an easier time attracting and retaining talent. However, it can be difficult to draw a direct line from financial investments to a desirable workplace culture. Hays suggested companies consider making permanent many of the short-term perks of the pandemic, including flexible work, robust wellness programmes, and more time off to avoid burnout.
"For example, you might try instituting a four-day workweek instead of a five-day workweek," Hays said. "Studies have shown that this greatly increases productivity and gives people a better quality of life — a great win-win for everyone."
Hays added that organisations can also improve company culture by investing in diversity and inclusion initiatives. And Lenzy-Jones recommended offering regular team retreats and company-wide events to facilitate bonding and improve morale. For example, her organisation has scheduled a trip to a winery for the whole team, and offers employees free tickets to every performance at the organisation's entertainment venue.
"In my mind, culture is bringing people together so they're happy, inspired, and motivated at what they're doing," Lenzy-Jones said. "The way you can do that is give folks more opportunities to be together. During the pandemic, with most team members working from home, you have to be intentional about ensuring folks come together in a socially distanced way."
— Hannah Pitstick is a freelance writer based in the US. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek at Andrew.Adamek@aicpa-cima.com.