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  • Writer's picturekirsty2020

You've got to swing it, shake it...who do you think you are - communicating your culture

I'm seeing quite a few firms are hitting the Careers' Roadshows at the moment, so it must be that season again where recruitment for this year's intake is beginning.

I'm told it's becoming ever harder for independent, regional firms to recruit the best staff nowadays. Whether that's trainees, or more qualified seniors and managers. It led me to look at the membership statistics from the accountancy bodies and it makes quite bizarre reading.

Newly qualified members admitted to ICAEW and ICAS over the past decade follows no pattern at all. The figures fluctuate quite extremely. Although, both have had a pleasing increase in members during 2018, ICAEW dramatically so. Conversely, ACCA shows a gradual increase in new qualified members over the past decade, but then their numbers have dropped off in 2018. This could be an impact of the apprenticeship and government schemes, but as ACCA has a much more even split between accountants in practice and industry, it's harder to pinpoint the implications for accountancy firms. What is clear though, is that it's very hard to predict the 'pool' available in the market, and the decrease in the trainee intake in the early 2010s, has definitely had an impact on the ability to recruit newly qualified accountants nowadays.

Whilst considering what implications this all has for independent firms, I carried out a review of the careers pages on the websites of a number of regional, well respected, firms. And this made me realise that, no matter how many candidates are available in the trainee or qualified market, firms need to be doing all they can to attract the best staff. And there are some key differences between those firms who are fantastic at promoting themselves as the employer-of-choice, and those firms who need to refresh how they approach recruitment. There are two steps in my view:

  1. Having great policies for staff and a defined culture for 'who you are'

  2. Then being able to communicate this clearly

So take a look at your own Careers page, and see how many of these you offer and how you explain them to your potential new recruits:

  • Your mission and your core values - what do you stand for as a firm?

  • The training you offer - pre and post qualification; technical and commercial; development; and 'soft skills'

  • Career development opportunities incl case studies of some team members who have progressed their careers through your firm

  • Your commitment to diversity and equal opportunities

  • Work/life/balance, flexible working policies, practical tools so you can make it possible for staff to work remotely but still feel connected to the firm

  • Health policies - supporting wellbeing, physical and mental health

  • CSR - your wider commitment to social, community and global issues

  • Salary, holidays and benefits - is there any choice or options which staff can package themselves?

If you really want to stand out as the employer of choice in your market, and have the choice of who you recruit, you should be able to demonstrate your offering across all of these areas.

At Beyond 2020, we recognise that in people businesses such as accountancy, your employees need to be at the centre, because great products and great client service, starts with a great team.

If you would like some assistance in formulating your own policies, defining and then being able to communicate your culture, please get in touch.

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