6 C’s of Recruiting and Retaining Key Finance & Accounting Professionals

November 5, 2021 ROARK

Let’s discuss the war for talent in finance and accounting. This term has been heard too much and usually emerges when unemployment is low, but let me tell you that high or low unemployment doesn’t matter. A business needs exceptional people.

So if you’re having a hard time retaining and recruiting good finance and accounting professionals in your company, this blog post is for you.

Hi! My name is Eric Roark, and I am the CEO of ROARK, a finance and accounting consulting firm that provides executive search services for top talent in this industry. I want to give you more insight on the six “C” s of hiring and retaining key finance and accounting professionals.

Herzberg’s Motivational Theory

Frederick Herzberg was one of the pioneers in motivational theory during post-war American culture of the 1950s. He formulated Townsend’s Law, or as it is more commonly known, Hertz’s Motivation Theory. Initially, two factors defined his law.

The factors were “hygiene factors,” which are considered to be external work environment issues, and “motivators” or internal satisfaction that leads to productivity. He differentiated between them by saying that hygiene factors could not motivate a person to do more than what was expected of their job. Still, motivators would lead to individuals doing better than what was expected of them.

Motivators are things that encourage employees to work harder, such as being affirmed that they are doing a good job. The other factor is what he called hygiene factors or dissatisfiers, making the employee want to leave their position. We call them demotivators at ROARK.

Gartner published a report on employee engagement which was very enlightening. Contrary to popular belief, most employees are not engaged with work but the minority of people are engaged in their work today.

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Motivators for Recruiting and Retaining Key Finance and Accounting Professionals

We will examine how to recruit and retain employees by discussing the motivational factors, or demotivators or hygiene factors.

#1 Culture

So the first thing you need to consider is company culture, and believe it or not, company culture trumps everything. Company culture is key and a famous guy named Peter Drucker said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

And I agree, it happens every day. So the first question could be: what is culture? The organization’s culture. What is it like to work for your company or organization? 

The first component of culture is going to be your vision or your purpose. Many companies don’t focus on that.

Employees who lack a sense of purpose at work find themselves creating an identity based solely on making money for the company. Not very inspiring at all. And outstanding culture is a motivational factor. It makes people want to work harder. 

When we look at ROARK, for instance, our purpose is to improve the health, happiness, and financial success of everyone we touch. We’re getting people excited about that.

And the reason for that is it isn’t about money, but instead what we do in our community. So when it comes to health, people are going home and eating healthier. And we talked about happiness as a whole, to just being happy. We were looking to put them in places where their star is brightest and has financial success.

Everybody is benefiting, whether it’s the companies or the people that work with us. The people who work with these companies see a win-win for all. We talk about and get excited when discussing ideas for how we can help people in the community and improve people’s lives. This inspires us more than bringing home a paycheck—an example of purpose or vision.

Next, think about your core values.

Great performers and high-performers tend to work in organizations with other great performers or high-performers, and your core values help set the tone of the company culture for those people.

Do they have similar values? If their values are different from one another, then the group will not be efficient. To emphasize this point, I’ll give you a couple of ideas that come to the forefront for ROARK.

One core value we embrace is a commitment to excellence. So we want employees who will go the extra mile and enjoy learning and growing in an environment like ours.

Another core value is that we want to win together. We want to win with our customers. That’s very important for us too because we want to satisfy their needs and earn their trust. But it’s not just them; we also want to have a good relationship with our employees, vendors, and other businesses in the community.

One of our core values is doing things the right way. Consequently, we don’t focus on short-term gains; instead, we try to do what’s best for the long term.

This also becomes an attractive option to people because I can’t tell you how many people feel comfortable in their organizations and don’t have a clue what they stand for. 

Having core values set out and established is – really helpful for helping others understand who you are.

Jim Collins talks about who’s on the bus and how they’re situated in the seats. Is everybody going where they need to go? Culture is influential because it attracts people. If you are clear on your vision and align with other people’s vision, they should share the same core values.

You will be more likely to attract people who share your values when using a filter for specific traits and living by those core values. People want to come to work and be a part of something great. If you’re in your culture and you say, “Hey, I want to improve this,” there are some great books and authors out there. Jim Collins is fantastic. Books like Traction and Scaling Up are good too. There’s plenty of great organizational development books out there. 

There are many great implementers as well. So, it’s one thing to read a book; It’s another thing to do it. I highly encourage the implementers because then they have the experience. And then, there is a peer advisory group for owners and key executives. They help work through many problems, such as those.

Culture is the most critical motivator in our six “C’s” for recruiting and retaining great finance and accounting professionals.

#2 Challenge

Our next C is going to be challenged challenges is a motivational factor. I remember watching the Matrix and enjoying it. I like action movies. Techie geek a little bit too. 

But I got to the second or third one, and I was asking myself, “What’s happening in this story?” And there are many subplots, but when I started thinking about it, the human condition came to my mind- we’re conditioned by nature to always grow and better the world in every corner of America.

We’ll always enjoy a good challenge, whether it’s personal or professional. Our work is rewarding when we’re up for the right task. That said, challenge can also be what motivates us – as long as it feels achievable. Successful people are always looking for newer, more challenging opportunities. 

Whenever we talk to them about this, they tell us their most significant need is more mentorship to do more things. They’re looking for a place where they can advance, where they grow personally and professionally in an organization, opportunities for continuing education. Not all companies are on a high-growth trajectory, making it easy to learn, grow, and advance. But there are ways to think outside the box on this. 

So what’s the next opportunity within the organization. You can give people specific projects. You can have them work in different areas in the company. To expand the knowledge that gives them the chance to learn and grow and have a good leader. That’s going to challenge them and give them projects or things outside of their understanding high-performance is one that eat that up and looking for that next challenge and growth. 

And it doesn’t have to be the next promotion. It can be other opportunities within the organization and leadership. I had this conversation the other day with someone looking for an opportunity and wanted to be a leader. And she’s like, oh, I need a management or director level position to be a leader. 

And I had a conversation with us. Like, no, actually you don’t that’s a manager, that’s authoritarian. But true leaders are people that have people that follow them, and you don’t always have to be in that position to do that. Whenever you’re in the place where people are following you, and mostly that comes from caring and empathy and being passionate and performing when you’re passionate, performing, you’re caring; you’re empathetic. 

And you will generally attract a following. When all that stuff. So being able to lead a project, initiative, or something new for the company is a great way to give these challenges to folks who will keep people motivated.  

#3 Contentment

So our next scene looking at motivational factors are, is going to be contentment. So it is a motivational factor. D

Do they like the actual work they are doing? If they don’t like what they’re doing, then, if it’s going to be tough to continue to do it and look not, everybody’s built the same. 

Some people like to grow and build things. Some people want to maintain things. Some people are extroverts, some people are introverts, and people are analytical. 

Some people go through feeling there are different types of people and candidly Thank God, right. Diversity is, to me is welcome and wonderful. It’s the greatest thing in the world. And so, if you align people’s personalities and strengths with their position, then they live their purpose. 

And we talked about putting people in a position where their star shines the brightest. That’s really what this is. And they become very excited about their job.  

And the question is also, do they feel comfortable with the team? Do they feel comfortable with whom they’re working? That becomes a motivator that keeps people; we hear people say, Hey, I don’t care how great of a job there is out there. These people are like family. I can never leave. It’s very motivating for the folks that are here to be around those people jumping into the fire and making it happen with them. 

But as far as contentment, just kind of opposite of challenge, we talked about it being correct. Do they feel comfortable with the responsibility that they have? If they don’t, then that’s going to be challenged, whether it’s too little, where they need the challenge or too much where they’re uncomfortable, we need to make sure that we’re balancing that out properly for professionals. 

And that’s going to be a motivator and very important becomes recognition, rewards, achievements. They want to be recognized for their contribution. People will run through a wall for recognition and rewards. 

And I think as a culture, or maybe it’s just, you’re in the U.S., we do so much focus on the negative and how do we build things? 

And we do so less focus on the positive, and I believe it has to be a balanced approach. So I would just challenge you. Whoever’s watching this video today, think about your team or your peers and what people do, right. In our firm, we have a little thing. We call to get caught doing something right. 

Cause everyone gets caught doing something wrong, get caught doing something right. Call them out on it. And look whether it’s public or private depends on the person. But you’ll be amazed at what it does for them. And it’s probably well overdue. So my, ask of you today in this video, go out, get caught, catch somebody doing something right. 

Hygiene Factors: Dissatisfiers or Demotivators for Recruiting and Retaining Key Finance and Accounting professionals

So as far as our next group of C’S, we’re going to talk about the hygiene factors. These are the dissatisfiers or demotivators. So these hygiene factors are exciting because they can be short-term motivators, which is very short-term obviously, but they’re not long-term motivators. Still, if they don’t exist, they become demotivators very quickly. 

#4 Compensation

And the one that is a common misconception, and our fourth C is going to be compensation. Compensation is only a short-term motivator. , it’s not a long-term motivator, and we see this time and time again. But the thing is, if compensation isn’t aligned, it’s the opposite of contentment. 

We talked about recognition, reward, and achievement. If they aren’t getting recognized, rewarded, they feel fair. Then it quickly becomes a demotivator, and I’ll tell you to be careful because your best people are all the ones that are getting calls for additional money. So you know that you need to balance out, just make sure your market. 

Sometimes people will make poor decisions based on money. That’s okay. Just as long as you’re compensating fairly, that’s where you need to be. And so look trends in compensation. 

Recently compensation is going up. Inflationary pressures that we’re feeling in the market compensation will go up because people naturally acquire skills. 

If you’re challenging them, this is the challenging part with high performers. And personal philosophy is, Hey, come to me, talk to me. And if we can’t provide the challenge or what you’re looking for, that’s okay. Then you graduate from the company. But give me every opportunity to keep you in the company. 

All your high performers aren’t going to stay. And those should be celebrations and graduations and too many people are nervous about those conversations. I would encourage you to have those open conversations. I’m also a huge believer in pay for performance. 

If you can add value to the company, let’s align that value with compensation. And so that’s tricky to do. But once you have a doubt in, and that goes back to having and get key performance indicators and performance, appraisals, and refused, that will be a strong motivator for employees, to be able to take on new projects, like we talked about the challenge and also helps to, reduce this compensation, being a hygiene factor as well. 

So reward your people. Don’t be afraid to do that. Top talent, always. 

#5 Comfort

So our next factor, which is a hygiene factor, is going to be comfort. And not everybody has to be comfortable in their job. Still, we often hear, Hey, I’m not satisfied with where the management team is going, with company stability, which causes good people to move. 

Sometimes acquisitions, you see many people leave during acquisition. Some people are asked to, but people leave during the acquisition. And so essential to make sure you’re holding onto people, but comfort is super important. 

Part of that comfort is working conditions. I remember myself talking to a CPA firm, and they were talking about kind of their philosophies and their pillars. 

One of the things that I left with was surprising me. They said that their offices and, they have very nice facilities. They said they perceive that as a recruitment expense because the work conditions are significant to people. And if they’re comfortable, then that’s going to be; it’s not going to be a demotivator. 

So it’s a fascinating thing. And we’ve seen some companies where things are dirty; they’re outside, and the air conditioning doesn’t work well. So slowly start that decline that will cause people to be dissatisfied and look at other options. 

They also may not feel appreciated because of that. And then do they get along with their boss and their peers? If they don’t, then that’s not very comfortable. If they do, it could be a flip of around and build much loyalty. 

But being comfortable going to work and with the people, you work with is very important, especially as we’re in this environment where we look. Focusing on what people’s products are now, who they are, or their backgrounds, or whatever these items are that we shouldn’t be looking at. 

Let’s build inclusive environments where people feel very comfortable working and get the best and the brightest talent. Finally, the most important and covered is work-life balance, which I’ve seen and my biggest mistake.  As a CFO was not bringing in additional consulting resources or additional support for big projects that we had, I tried to do it with my resources. I learned that lesson, but it was hard at times because you burn out the resources. 

And sometimes it’s tough cause you got to fight budget battles. I lost several budget battles on that. And then we ended up paying for the long-term because the cost of turnover is so expensive, but people will work well in the short term. 

On a project, but it can’t belong and continue the, and studies show the better work-life balance builds the better performance for people. They’re happier. 

Key performers or top performance is at its highest when people are happy, as well as they stay longer as well. So comfort is critical and a demotivator if not there.

#6 Commute

So our sixth and final C today will be one that not everyone thinks that but is critically important. That’s the commute. 

And today, with the work-from-home environment and everything like that’s become one of the factors that have not been a demotivator for people because they’re not driving their community or hitting traffic. 

But as things shifted, people go back to work more. It’s going to become more and more, and traffic becomes very. Very difficult as we start becoming condensed in major metropolitan areas. 

And what we see in the accounting and finance field, just as a general rule of thumb there’s, these are generalities is specialist level folks tend to really be looking for 30 minutes or less of a commute, whereas professional level, which is usually our degreed senior account, senior financial analysts, cost accountants, revenue, accountants. 

They are typically looking for 45 minutes. or less. 

Your management or your executive team are typically looking for an hour or less. I know some of these things vary, but that’s just the general audience that we see. 

And look, it depends on the person and what their personal preferences or situations are, but that’s just a good rule of thumb as you’re looking at commutes. 

The tricky part is that if you look at a commute in LA, that will be a lot fewer miles. So you’re going to have a closer geographic distance, just because of the time compared to maybe where my family lives out in St. Louis, Missouri, that becomes a very different level of traffic, and you can get a lot further, faster. 

We find that time is more a factor than miles, even though miles do become less of an element with wear and tear and things like that. So just be very cognizant of that. And as far as trends going on right now, or ways to fight that, we see people working remotely. 

So if that’s available, it does become interesting because your more junior people that are learning still and need that time with their managers, they need to be more in-person that tends to be the best successful way that we see out there. And the managers tend to need to be there for them. But when we get people that are at a certain level. 

They will require less and less supervision. Then you have some more flexibility. The challenge is that you also give up some of the growth opportunities for them and being together and some of the camaraderie. 

So my prediction of where all this is going is I think Ernst and young did this. When I first started my career, a hoteling concept where people are going to be in and out of the office, it’s going to reduce the overhead costs of the facility. And allow people flexibility as needed. 

I think we’re going to figure that out, and it’s very exciting, the new era that we’re in. But my point to this is for as far as a commute goes, realize you’re competing people working with more and more remote workers and being flexible and creative in this new environment. 

I think the key is focusing on the product and the result instead of where they’re at. And, that requires a level of trust. But at the end of the day, trust is key and in recruiting and retaining employees.

Conclusion: 6 C’s of Recruiting and Retaining Key Finance and Accounting Professionals

So today, we talked about culture, challenge, commitment, compensation, comfort, and commute. 

These are the six C’s of recruiting and retaining essential finance and accounting professionals. But my question is would you add anything? Maybe there’s a seventh “C” that’s out there. 

We wish you the greatest success in happiness and recruiting and retaining the best finance and accounting professionals out there.

If you need help finding great finance and accounting executive talent, we’re happy to assist.

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