ICAEW members and specialist accountancy recruiters alike are reporting huge pent-up demand for financial staff, with the pandemic cited as a major contributory factor. Oliver Deacon believes it’s a question of supply and demand not seeing eye to eye.
“On the supply side, there are people being risk-averse about switching companies,” said Deacon. “People think ‘if I'm not in a terrible situation, I'm probably not going to be looking for a new job right now’. This means that there's less talent coming into the marketplace.”
On the flip side of this, businesses that have prospered during the pandemic and need people to come in and work to keep progress rolling are finding recruitment extremely tough.
“The outcome is that a lot of the talent might be asking for more money and being choosier about who they work for,” said Deacon. “But I think there are ways to overcome that. Organisations need to think about more than just salaries. I work with my clients on the fact that there are nine different variables you can negotiate on when you're joining a company, and salary is only one of those.”
Different ways to overcome salary demands
Deacon says that as well as a client’s basic salary, people have a range of benefits they can negotiate when discussing the terms of a new position.
“At Microsoft [where Deacon previously worked as a Finance Director] we had a very, very structured way we did salary, bonus shares and benefits, and you couldn't negotiate on that. But there were other things you could negotiate on. And that's some of the things that I always suggest CFOs should consider, where's our flexibility when we're trying to bring in a great candidate.”
A big one is giving candidates a one-off lump sum to come join. Deacon says, ”‘if you don't want to heat up salaries, just pay people to come and join”. Another avenue could be a retention bonus, where if they’re still in the position in 18-24 months, and performing to a certain level, then they’re rewarded. Another benefit to negotiate is extra days off. “Holiday is a big one that my clients never think of,” adds Deacon.
Another attractive benefit on Deacon’s list is guaranteed educational cash. “If an employee wants to go on a training course we'll fund it, guaranteeing a personal training budget of up x pounds a year to learn whatever you want. That's something the organisation can benefit from along with the individual without heating up salaries within the company.”
As counter-intuitive as it may sound, another component to consider is enhanced redundancy packages, calming people’s fears about being cut adrift during the pandemic.
Another important aspect to consider is what the company can offer in terms of making employees happier. This refers to things like remote working flexible hours and a commitment to in-house progression and development.
“Bottom line is trying not to negotiate on the things that are common to everyone but find something else that you can uniquely offer to that individual,” Deacon added.
Build a place that people want to work every day
Deacon relayed the following anecdote from his time at Microsoft:
“The CFO at Microsoft, Amy Hood, every single quarter used to tell all the managers and all the finance professionals, ‘I want you to go out every day and rehire every person who works for you, every day think about going into work and doing things that mean that that person commits to stay in work for you for another day’.
“And in general, I think that's how CFOs should think about their teams and their talent. What are they doing every day to make sure that their people choose to work for them again? Every company should ask themselves this question.”
This article is from an ICAEW Insights series on Navigating the new employment landscape for finance professionals. Click here to access the full four-part series.
For members who want to know more about the future of finance and how the sector is expected to evolve over the next 10 years – Oliver Deacon’s live session which is hosted on ICAEW’s Virtually Live 2021 page.
Follow this link to Oliver Deacon Coaching where he gives financial professionals career advice.
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