Wellbeing in the accountancy sector
Even though I have recruited for the accountancy industry for many years, my interest and curiosity into the sector’s trends and drivers have never waned.
I am always keen to find out more and gain as much information to help accountants and accountancy businesses understand the marketplace and make better, more informed decisions.
The global challenges of 2020 have only sharpened my keenness to stay in tune with our industry.
Having spoken with many of my industry contacts throughout 2020, I have absolute respect for how businesses have responded, adjusted and risen to the challenges placed before them.
However, these survey results only serve to support my suspicions that there remain some gaps between accountants’ needs and what accountancy businesses feel they need to offer to current and prospective employees.
Results from our accountancy business EVP survey indicate that accountancy firms find it challenging to attract and retain top talent and that increasing salaries remains the only solution. In contrast, our employee survey results show that culture, employee brand and wellbeing offer equally, if not more appealing prospects, for employees.
Perhaps, with insight from responses to surveys like ours, we can go some way to helping businesses achieve a better balance of culture, brand and reward in the interests of the wellbeing and prosperity of all.
All the best.
- Communication and social interaction with colleagues are essential to accountants and impact their wellbeing.
- Remote working is regarded as a positive change by accountants.
- Employee wellbeing is important to accountants and takes priority over salary according to half of the respondents.
- Conducting structured and effective onboarding, induction and career development processes will help businesses retain staff.
- Accountants are looking to work for companies with strong core values, take their corporate and social responsibility seriously and have clear and structured employee wellbeing strategies.
Employee wellbeing — do employees care?
Employee wellbeing is an essential factor for any accountancy business.
With working practices changing significantly over the last 12 months, we were keen to understand accountancy employees’ thoughts and views regarding wellness and wellbeing.
Our Happiness at Work survey was completed by over 150 accountants from across the UK who gave their views on the importance of wellbeing at work, remote working and salaries and benefits.
In conjunction with our accountancy firm – Employee Value Proposition survey, we aimed to identify any sector trends and drivers. By understanding accountants’ needs, we can help accountancy firms formulate better employee wellbeing strategies for their people’s benefit.
You can access our accountancy firm’s results – Employee Value Proposition survey here.
Happiness at work — the results
Core values and corporate social responsibility
48% of accountants surveyed agreed that it is important to work for a company with strong core values and take its corporate and social responsibility seriously.
Employees are consciously taking their morals, values and beliefs into the workplace and are far more likely to feel compromised if they sense that these are being conflicted in the workplace.
Accountancy firms must communicate and demonstrate clear and concise core values to create an employee value proposition and a working environment that positively contributes to their employees’ wellbeing.
Despite employees having to work from home, often in isolation, due to the pandemic of 2020, two-thirds of those surveyed reported that social interaction with colleagues was an important part of their working life.
Working habits and the global events in 2020 have impacted how we all interact, socially and professionally. However, it remains clear from our survey results that social interaction is still a key factor in employee wellbeing.
Accountancy firms mustn’t lose sight of this as they seek to find a new normal for working practices.
The impact of regular remote working on staff morale appears unclear at present. There were divided opinions between those who agreed that there had been a negative impact on morale, those that were unsure and those who disagreed.
However, it was interesting to see that 45% of accountancy firms felt that remote working had negatively impacted staff morale with a further 40% were unsure.
The difference in opinion may imply a conflicting view on the acceptability of remote working between firm and employee with firms preferring to have staff working from the office?
Following on with the remote working theme, over 50% of accountants responded that they felt more productive when working remotely.
Interestingly, accountancy firm responses were far more reserved, but one in every three businesses agreed that productivity had improved due to remote working.
With remote working removing the need for a daily commute, we asked accountants if they would be more likely to work for a company where they didn’t have to commute on a daily basis.
Again, respondents expressed a preference to work remotely with 51% of accountants saying they would be more likely to work for a company where they didn’t have to commute.
Similarly, there was a preference from accountants toward firms that offered remote working as standard.
All of the above corresponds well with 60% of accountancy firms responding by saying that they would be offering remote working as standard for employees in the future.
When asked about the importance of an employee wellbeing strategy, over 60% of accountants said that it would influence whether they chose to work for a company or not.
In addition, over half of respondents agreed that it was important for their employer to prioritise employees’ mental and physical wellbeing.
Again, accountancy firms appear in tune with demand here as 95% of companies surveyed identified employee wellbeing as a strategic priority.
Management and communication
Relationships with Managers can be a huge factor in employee wellbeing, and we were keen to understand the impact of remote working here.
We were surprised to see that 45% of those surveyed reported improved relationships with their manager due to remote working and a further 27% reporting no change.
Interestingly, firms reported that they had found it more challenging to manage both wellbeing and performance whilst working remotely, which again appears to highlight employers and employees’ conflicting opinions regarding remote working.
Less surprisingly, accountants confirmed that poor communication from management would be a key reason for them to seek alternative employment.
55% of those surveyed confirmed that poor communication would likely lead them to look for another job.
If working practices are going to change and remote working becomes a standard feature, then accountancy firms must address and evolve their communication protocols and strategies to ensure that accountancy staff remain engaged with the company.
Holiday and benefits
Unsurprisingly, when we asked accountants about accountancy firms only offering the statutory holiday allowance, the majority expressed a desire for a higher allowance.
When asked whether they would be less likely to work for an accountancy firm that only offered the statutory holiday allowance, 44% of accountants agreed with a further 21% unsure.
However, accountants expressed a clear preference for flexible holiday benefits such as holiday purchase or carried over schemes. Over 60% of respondents stated this as an incentive to work for a company.
According to our company survey, accountancy firms were less sure about offering increased holiday allowances. Only one in three businesses felt that it would help them attract and retain staff. The same can be said about flexible holiday options, with 40% of companies uncertain about their importance.
Recruitment and retention
When asked about recruitment and recruitment process, accountants categorically reported that a well-managed and timely recruitment process would increase the likelihood of accepting a job.
Over 70% of respondents said they would be more likely to accept an offer where the recruitment process had been well managed.
Furthermore, over 60% of respondents stated that they would be more likely to stay with a company that provided a structured and detailed onboarding and induction process.
Accountancy firms appeared to recognise the importance of effective onboarding and induction with 95% of firms agreeing that it was necessary.
However, over 50% of firms surveyed, still said that they find it challenging to attract and recruit high-calibre candidates and 75% of respondents stated that they thought offering more competitive salary packages would help address this.
Indeed, over 60% of accountants responded by agreeing that they would be more likely to work for a company that offered regular and structured salary reviews.
However, and as importantly, over 50% of respondents also stated that working for a company that prioritised their wellbeing was more important than earning a higher salary.
Please see our 2021 accountancy practice salary guide for more information on salaries.
We are grateful to everyone who took the time to complete our accountant survey. We have concluded some exciting and important points with the information provided.
The answers given by accountants and accountancy firms in our network have allowed us to identify some clear and tangible factors in the importance of employee value propositions and employee wellbeing.
We hope that the information provided and conclusions that we have made will help accountancy employers and employees achieve wellbeing and happiness in the workplace and benefit from the obvious advantages that it can bring.
Full survey results can be found here: Accountant Happiness at Work survey.
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