Walking out on professional services

MAY 2010

Employers will need to lift their game to keep accounting and finance staff, following a recent survey that found half of Australia’s professionals in the sector plan to quit their jobs. And it could be as simple as offering staff a little recognition for their efforts.

RECRUITMENT firm Robert Half’s Workplace Survey found that 68 per cent of the 330 people surveyed had experienced a decline in working conditions, while 32 per cent felt expected to do more work for little or no pay.

Robert Half director Andrew Brushfield says 90 per cent of employers did not introduce retention packages to key employees during the crisis, which is a major factor towards job dissatisfaction.

“It’s a big statistic but it also sends the message that employers might run the risk of losing people unless they use retention strategies,” he says.

“They don’t need to be sophisticated, they just need to make employees feel good, and money’s not always a consideration – it can be as simple as verbal recognition from the boss.

“We are currently experiencing a major increase in the number of finance staff looking at their options.”

While there is always a percentage of employed professionals looking for new work, the market has turned around and the level is now higher than usual.

“They’ve been sitting tight for some time, working harder and working longer but their efforts have been unrewarded and in many cases unnoticed,” says Brushfield.

“They’ve seen a point where the market is changing and they think ‘this might be an opportunity for me’. The rise is a slightly higher level than what the market would be normally – I wouldn’t read into it as a major negative impact on the sector though.”

The survey also found that 35 per cent of employees were working longer hours and 30 per cent had experienced more stress at work.

People First Solutions director Alina Oldfield, says the economic recovery is leading to an increased number of accountants looking to move jobs, but it is still difficult to tell what the exact factors are.

“In terms of the GFC you had people in positions for longer, but as the economy improves and confidence returns, it means there are more people who will be looking for new jobs,” says Oldfield.

From a public practice perspective many people are looking for new positions, but from a commercial practice perspective more accountants will be staying put.

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