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The Importance of an Employee Value Proposition in the Accountancy Sector

Foreword 

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 always want to know more and help my clients and other businesses in the accountancy sector 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 you throughout 2020, I have absolute respect for how the accountancy sector has responded, adjusted and risen to the challenges placed before it.

It’s fantastic that our industry remains buoyant despite these challenges. However, buoyancy comes with its problems, the recruitment of talent being just one.

The results of our survey have, in my opinion, highlighted that there remains work to be done in matching what businesses do to achieve employee wellbeing and what our current and prospective employees want and need.

This survey indicates that many of you find it challenging to attract and retain top talent. This comes as no surprise as I am keenly aware of how competitive the industry is.

However, is enough being done to cultivate our company culture, employee brand and wellbeing strategies to improve our EVP? Respondents to our employee survey reported that such things offer equally, if not more appealing prospects than salary packages.

I sincerely hope, that with insight from responses to surveys like ours, you can formulate strategies and build EVP’s that position your businesses as successful and reputable employers of choice that attract and develop the top talent in our industry.

All the best.

Garry

Key findings 

  • According to our survey, accountancy firms recognise an Employee Value Proposition as strategically important.
  • Some accountancy firms still find it challenging to attract and retain top talent, and all businesses surveyed have made retaining top employees a key objective.
  • Accountancy businesses have seen some positive, short-term returns due to remote working. The longer-term impact, however, remains unclear.
  • Managing remote workers has challenged accountancy firms, but employees’ responses imply that businesses have done better than they might think.
  • A strong EVP including core values and clear wellbeing strategy is equally important to employees as the traditional salaries and benefit offerings. 

Employee Value Proposition — employers views

Introduction 

Whilst businesses in the UK have faced significant challenges over the last 12 months, accountancy businesses have remained busy due to the need for strategic accountancy and taxation support. At Public Practice Recruitment Ltd, we have seen a consistent level of recruitment taking place in the sector with demand for some roles increasing during the pandemic.

For most accountancy businesses, this has represented a need to build on their employee value proposition and maintain a strong recruitment presence.

As recruitment in the UK’s accountancy industry has become increasingly competitive in recent years, accountancy businesses’ challenge to attract top talent has only intensified. 

In our quest to understand employers thoughts and views regarding a compelling EVP, we surveyed accountancy firms from across the UK on the importance of an EVP, wellbeing strategies, remote working and salaries and benefits.

In conjunction with our accountant employee survey, our goal was to identify any key sector trends and drivers to help accountancy firms formulate an effective and competitive EVP.

You can access our accountant employee survey results for further information.

Employee Value Proposition survey — the results

Employee Value Proposition and core values

When surveyed about the importance of an EVP to meet current recruitment challenges, 90% of employers agreed that it is essential.

It’s encouraging to see such a positive response regarding an EVP from accountancy firms. 

The challenge now is for businesses to implement an EVP strategy that demonstrates their values and culture.

With almost half of accountancy employees reporting that it was important to them to work for a company with strong core values and a commitment to their corporate and social responsibility, a strategic and effective EVP is a must for accountancy firms hoping to recruit top talent.

Recruitment/Retention/Attrition

Over half of the accountancy firms surveyed reported that staff attrition had not been a significant issue over the past two years. However, 100% of businesses confirmed that retaining top employees was a key objective.

This importance placed on developing an EVP and retaining top talent would imply that accountancy businesses are conscious of the threat presented by a dynamic and competitive accountancy sector.

Additionally, over 50% of firms surveyed reported that they found it difficult to attract and recruit high-calibre candidates.

With employees expressing a preference toward businesses that prioritise wellbeing, offer flexible benefits and communicate effectively, accountancy businesses must be prepared to adapt or change if they want to attract and retain talent.

Remote working

When asked if they agreed that productivity had improved due to remote working, only 5% of firms disagreed!

60% reported that they were unsure, but 35% of firms agreed that productivity had improved due to remote working.

Interestingly, over 50% of accountants responded that they also felt more productive when working remotely.

Staff morale, however, generated a different response. 45% of accountancy firms felt that staff morale had suffered due to remote working with a further 40% uncertain, and only 15% implying that morale had improved.

Although employees had a varied view on this, the highest majority, 32%, also reported a negative impact on staff morale.

It would appear then, that remote working has, in the majority of cases, had a positive impact on productivity, in the short term, at least.

Whether improved productivity continues at the expense of staff morale, remains to be seen.

On remote working as a standard practice moving forwards, only 5% of businesses stated that they would not offer it as standard to employees in the future.

For companies that do plan to offer remote working as standard, our employee survey reported that employees expressed a preference for remote working and reducing their daily commute where possible.

Employee wellbeing

When asked about the importance of an employee wellbeing strategy, 95% of accountancy firms confirmed it as a strategic priority for their business.

The 5% of businesses that reported otherwise may have to reconsider due to over 60% of employees expressing a preference for companies with a wellbeing strategy and over 50% agreeing that it was important for their employer to prioritise employees’ mental and physical wellbeing.

For accountancy firms considering or reviewing their EVP, it would appear that wellbeing is high on the majority of employees’ agenda. 

Management

Of the major influences on any company’s culture and performance, management was an area that we were keen to explore. It was pleasing to see that 45% of the employees we surveyed reported improved relationships with their managers 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. 65% of businesses thought it had been more difficult to manage wellbeing and 50% reporting it harder to manage performance.

Additionally, 30% of businesses surveyed reported an increase in instances of performance management during 2020.

Clearly, under such extraordinary working conditions and circumstances, there are many reasons why employee performance might have dipped. However, it would seem sensible to conduct a review of management and communication processes and procedures to allow both managers and employees to make the best of any new working practices.

Holiday and benefits

When we asked accountancy firms about increasing holiday allowances to attract and retain staff, opinions were divided.

35% of businesses agreed that it would help, 30% were unsure, and 35% disagreed.

However, 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.

Additionally, 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.

Whilst 45% of accountancy firms agreed that flexible holiday benefits were an important part of their benefits offering, a further 40% were unsure.

Perhaps then, a sensible combination of both allowance and flexibility is the ideal way to go when considering retaining and attracting staff with your holiday allowance offering.

Recruitment process

When asked about the recruitment process, accountancy firms appeared to recognise the importance of effective onboarding and induction with 95% of firms agreeing that it was essential.

Over 60% of employees stated that they would be more likely to stay with a company that provided a structured and detailed onboarding and induction process and 70% of employees said they would be more likely to accept an offer where the recruitment process had been well managed.

These two elements are critical in the successful development of your employer brand and EVP. 

You can see our guide to a flawless candidate journey here. 

Salaries

When surveyed, 75% of accountancy firms stated that they thought offering more competitive salary packages would help address the challenge of attracting high-calibre staff.

Indeed, over 60% of employees surveyed responded by agreeing that they would be more likely to work for a company that offered regular and structured salary reviews.

However, over 50% of employees also stated that working for a company that prioritised their wellbeing was more important than earning a higher salary.

An indicator, indeed, that employees are giving equal consideration to their wellbeing as they are to their salary package. So, do accountancy businesses need to look beyond the traditional offerings of salary and benefits to remain competitive in the war for talent?

Please see our 2021 accountancy practice salary guide for further information on salaries.

Summary

We are grateful to everyone who took the time to complete our employer survey. The results have been invaluable in helping us to understand some of today’s’ key market drivers.

The answers given by accountancy firms in our network have allowed us to identify some clear and tangible factors that we feel are integral to a compelling EVP.

With so many challenges facing the accountancy sector in 2021, we hope that the information provided and conclusions that we have made will help accountancy employers formulate effective and productive EVP strategies that will contribute to continued profitability and success.

You can see the full results of our Employee Value Proposition survey here.

Are you recruiting for an accountancy position?

If you are looking to recruit for a permanent or interim accountancy position for your accountancy practice, Public Practice Recruitment Ltd can help. 

Exclusively developed for the accountancy industry, our professional team will seek the highest calibre of candidate for your role, so you’ll be confident they will actively contribute to the success of your accountancy firm.

You can contact us to discuss your requirement on 03335 777 787.

 

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