Blog 1 of 2:
By Paul Richmond, Managing Director.
The last few years have brought the challenges of recruiting and retaining talent into sharp focus, as firms have seen their staff leave in droves for greater pay and more flexible working leaving everybody fighting for any resources that are out there in the market.
If this was not bad enough, learning that fewer graduates are applying for courses at university should seriously set off alarm bells. According to the ICAEW, application numbers in the accountancy sector have reached concerningly low levels. There was a 33% decline in candidates between May 2022 and June 2022, and a 36% drop in the number of applicants year on year between June 2021 and June 2022.
The legal and accounting profession is finally waking up to the fact that after years of calling themselves ‘people businesses’ it has become a stark reality that many do not look after their people as well as they thought. And the sector has to realise that the profession is seen by many as a ‘sausage machine’ driving gross recurring fees.
Legal firms are seeing trainees and even qualified staff leave due to burnout and many accounting firms will be lucky to acquire the right volume of joiners as university courses struggle for applicants.
In the first of our two blog series, we look at the dilemma of recruiting and retaining talent and what part your Employee Value Proposition plays in this challenge.
Certainly, there are a number of strategies that your firm can pursue that will maximise your chance of recruiting and retaining talent within your organisation. Of course, that question is a little more complicated if university courses are attracting fewer applicants. That challenge is an industry-wide issue that speaks volumes about the ‘sausage factory’ perception which individual firms have a responsibility to try and change (that topic is a blog in itself). There are, however, a number of strategies that your firm can pursue right now that will maximise your chance of recruiting the talent that is out there and keeping them. Contact us and we can chat these through with you, but as a starting point, you can put yourself ahead of the crowd with an attractive Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Then you can use your EVP on your website to flaunt it, so you are the envy of your competitors. Easy right?
Everyone is talking about EVP these days, so it’s worth some serious time at board level considering how you support your staff. I personally like the work that Gartner has done and you can see their approach to EVP here.
They look at something they term ‘The Human Deal’ which is a wrapper for staff engagement – ensuring you have a broad package of benefits from pensions to healthcare to a gym membership but also ‘being there’ to provide support for the person (just like your values probably state already!). You need to review each aspect of your employee value proposition: The sense of connection, engagement, diversity and inclusion, financial well-being, mental health, personal development, the scope for taking a career break, placements, maternity, paternity leave and even childcare.
It’s a big task to undertake but ‘pulse surveys’ that ask why people stay and what it would take for them to leave are also great barometers of how well the approach you are taking to engagement is working.
But do not become complacent. Just because one pulse survey says you are doing great, do not think everything is okay, you need to keep working at it, developing your EVP, and finding out from your employees what you can do and how you can do it better.
Websites have gone from being online brochures to a much more 21st century, interactive way of engaging with your stakeholders – prospects and clients alike now regularly go to your website to engage in some way – to book a webinar, pay a bill, and review potential services.
Many firms still have a ‘work for us’/interested in a job page that is a dreary list of job vacancies. Devastatingly dull. Instead, look at the great websites out there with highly engaging video and blog content this is focused on attracting talent. Check out KPMG Careers which is one click from their homepage. Granted they are a global Big 4 firm but what ideas could you use? Their focus on diversity? Back to work mums? Apprenticeships. There are great ideas in there.
Alternatively use your LinkedIn page to do something similar to what Consilium Chartered Accountants did here, a great example of how you can use it to drive interest from potential recruits.
These points are worth considering if you have not already:
Using strategies to maximise your chance of recruiting and retaining staff within your firm will set you apart, and as your talent is your future, you cannot ignore the issues. If you need help to create an edge or to take advantage in this competitive marketplace, then email me here or call me on 0797 3132076.