06 Jun

6 Tips for Negotiating Salary and Getting Paid What You’re Worth

Congratulations, you got a job offer! All that research and preparation for the interview paid off. But your efforts shouldn’t end there — you still have to settle on salary, benefits and perks. You are planning to negotiate a sweet deal, aren’t you?

Well, if you’re like most professionals, chances are you’re ready to accept the first offer. According to a recent Robert Half survey, only 39 per cent of workers polled even attempted to negotiate a higher take-home pay when they received their last job offer.

Why should you try to negotiate with your soon-to-be employer? For one, some hiring managers’ first salary offer falls on the low side, possibly to try to save on payroll or in case the candidate counters with a higher figure. Plus, even if the company can’t bump up the salary, they may be able to offer you more in other areas.

Asking for more compensation can be awkward in any situation, but it doesn’t have to be if you prepare and know when and how to do it.

1. Time it right. Some employers prefer to discuss salary expectations early in the hiring process. After all, no manager wants to waste time interviewing candidates they can’t afford. From the job seeker’s perspective, though, it’s best to delay this conversation so you don’t price yourself out of the position. Once the company has decided you’re their top pick, they may be more likely to do what’s necessary to bring you on board. So avoid mentioning a specific salary figure until you have a firm offer in hand.


2. Do your research.
Before you can decide how much more to ask for, compare the salary you’ve been offered against a benchmark. Use a trusted source like the Robert Half 2018 Salary Guide, which lists wage ranges for more than 270 full-time positions in the UK. For example, if you’re an internal auditor with four to seven years of post-qualified experience, the anticipated salary range a financial services firm in London should be offering is £67,000-£84,500 per year. If you get offered less than that, you know you have room to negotiate.

3. Build your case. You could simply counter with a higher salary figure and see what happens. But you’re likely to get better results if you can state why you deserve it. Let’s say you have both the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualifications, or you’re fluent in another language commonly used in business, such as German, Chinese or Arabic. When you can demonstrate why you’re worth more, the employer is more likely to increase their initial offer.

4. Practice negotiating. Ask a friend or mentor to rehearse the conversation you’re likely to have with the hiring manager. The ideal partner is someone from the corporate world — a business-savvy person who can coach you on projecting confidence and answering unexpected questions. Having run through your delivery several times can make you feel more confident during a salary negotiation.

5. Consider alternatives to salary. It pays to look at the big picture during salary negotiations. While more money is good, not every employer — especially small and midsize businesses — can offer salaries at the higher end of the scale. If the organisation really can’t budge on pay, try negotiating perks instead. Here are some extras you could ask for:

Additional holidays — See if you can negotiate an extra week of paid leave — beyond the standard days you’re entitled to per year — in lieu of a higher salary.

Alternative scheduling — It can be stressful to work full-time and take care of personal obligations. Try asking to work a 4-10 schedule (four 10-hour days) or a 36-hour week so you could leave at noon on Fridays.

Flexitime — You can request to work during times that mesh best with your personal preferences, such as 10 a.m.-6 p.m. or 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Telecommuting — With more finance functions moving to the cloud, you may be able to handle some or much of your job remotely. The ability to work from home is a highly sought perk.

Professional development — Looking to attain another professional qualification? Or perhaps get your MBA or Master of Laws? Ask the employer to pay for some or all of the tuition as part of your compensation package.

6. Keep it friendly. Your future employer is not your adversary. While your goal is to earn what you’re worth, the manager most likely has limitations on what they can offer. When negotiating salary and perks, be polite and tactful. If they can’t meet your demands, either accept the job or decline it gracefully.

Don’t leave money on the table. You may be tempted to take an initial job offer, especially if you’re not the type to make waves or you don’t want to come off as ungrateful. But employers seldom rescind an offer just because their top choice tried to negotiate their starting salary, so you have little to lose but much to gain.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at roberthalf.co.uk/blog.

08 May

Time to Connect: Networking Tips for Accountants

Love it or loathe it, networking is crucial for accountants at all levels, whether you are searching for your next opportunity or looking to make a bigger mark with your current organisation. But do you know how to network like a pro? These are the five most common networking mistakes, according to a Robert Half Management Resources survey of CFOs in the United States:

Failing to connect with the right people. This mistake doesn’t mean that the ‘right’ people deserve to be in your network and the ‘wrong’ people do not. Rather, you need to know who to get in touch with for specific outcomes. For example, if you’re interested in joining a public accounting firm, your time is better spent establishing contact with those in the field rather than corporate finance professionals. Look through your contact list to see who among your network could lead you to your ultimate career goals.

Not asking for help. There’s no need to tough it out alone. If you have a healthy network in the accounting world, it makes sense to take full advantage of it when the need arises. Check your ego at the door and pick up the phone or send that email. Your contacts could help open doors that would otherwise remain closed.

Not helping others. Generosity in networking can help you establish a reputation as a respected accounting professional — someone who takes the time to give back. When others lend you a hand, it’s only natural you should do the same for them. But even if you don’t owe someone a favour, help people anyway. Think of good deeds as deposits in an account with a potentially high rate of return.

Failing to keep in touch or reaching out only when you need something. Networking is an ongoing process, and it needs your regular attention. Keep communication flowing with contacts so that when you do reach out, it’ll feel like a natural extension of your relationship. A simple email or coffee catch-up from time to time will keep your network alive.

Not thanking contacts when they provide assistance. Showing your gratitude in a timely manner is an essential part of networking. Send a thank-you email or handwritten note or jump on the phone for a quick phone call. Contacts are more likely to help again if they feel acknowledged and appreciated the first time around.

Networking tips for accountants

No matter where you are in your career, you likely could benefit from a networking refresher. Here are some more pointers:

Balance is key. Use a healthy mixture of in-person and online techniques. It’s quick and easy to stay in touch via email and social media, especially when your circle of contacts is large and global in scope. However, there’s nothing like face-to-face interactions for deepening relationships and expanding your network.

Maximise industry events. Attending professional conferences is a great way to meet other finance professionals. Mingle over drinks. Strike up conversations while waiting in line or browsing booths on the trade show floor. Resist the temptation to dine in your hotel room after a long day. Industry conferences are opportune chances to network over meals.

Blend business with social. Networking doesn’t have to be confined to the finance sector. Many connections are made in casual settings, such as neighbourhood BBQs or your kids’ sporting matches. You never know who you’re going to meet, so keep business cards handy and your elevator pitch fresh in case you come across your target audience.

Show your personality. While it’s important to behave professionally, don’t be overly formal and serious when networking. It’s perfectly okay to let others see your enthusiasm and sense of humour. People like recommending and working with people they like.

Use your smartphone wisely. There are plenty of apps for sharing contact info, jotting down notes, connecting via social media, and taking and sharing photos. But make sure to put your phone away when actually engaging in conversation. Nobody likes talking to people who aren’t giving them their full attention.

Follow up. What good is networking when new acquaintances never hear from you again? Consider sending a personalised email to a new contact shortly after the initial meeting. If they don’t seem interested in maintaining the connection, let it drop gracefully.

Strong connections are fundamental to your accounting career. Now is the time to step up networking efforts to build your professional network.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at roberthalf.co.uk/blog.
26 Mar

How to Set Strong Goals — and Actually Achieve Them

March and April is a good time to check in on the New Year’s resolutions you set at the beginning of the year. These goals are made with the best of intentions and hefty dose of enthusiasm, yet they are often quickly forgotten.

Here’s the good news: Even if you let your resolutions slip, there’s still three-quarters of 2018 left. There’s no rule saying you can’t re-resolve to follow up on your original goals for the year — and even set new ones.

In an Accountemps survey of more than 1,000 workers in the United States, 93 per cent of respondents said goal setting is important to their work performance. Without an end goal to strive for, you can easily get caught up in the day-to-day minutia and lose track of the wider view. But when you have a target set, not only do you tend to work towards it, you can also check your progress at regular intervals to make sure you’re still on the right track.

Here are five tips for setting strong goals and achieving them, no matter what time of year it is:

  1. Set aside quality thinking time. Setting goals and determining your best route to them doesn’t happen instantly. Give yourself time to focus on big-picture questions and consider the different possibilities and paths you could take.

Set aside a large chunk of your day, sit in a quiet space free from noise and distractions — including your phone — and ponder these questions:

  • What do you hope to achieve in your current job?
  • Are you ready for a career change?
  • What would bring you more professional satisfaction?
  • Are you happy with your salary? Where would you like it to be in the short and long term?
  • How would you rate your work-life balance?
  • Do you ever wish you could change your accounting specialisation?
  • Do you need more knowledge, skills or experience to achieve these goals?

Goal setting starts with serious soul searching. It’s a tough but necessary way to discover what you really want.

  1. Get specific. Having clearly defined goals is the first step towards achieving them. It’s not enough to have general ideas, such as be happy at work, make more money or get ahead. These desires are fine, but you should go further and get detailed. For example, what exactly does getting ahead look like to you? How can you be happier at work? What do you ned to do to bring home a bigger paycheque? DO you need to take on more responsibility? Get a promotion?

Don’t stop at vague hopes and wishes. It’s great to have lofty ambitions, but a specific definition of what they mean for you makes them feel more concrete.

  1. Break it down. Your accounting career is a marathon, not a sprint. As such, focusing solely on a far-away finish line could be daunting. Strong goals are measurable, realistic, achievable and time-based. Establish milestones — manageable, bite-size goals — that lead to the bigger prize.

Start with your final objective, such as becoming finance controller or CFO, then work backwards to determine what actions you need to take to get there. Think about the various positions along your ideal career path. Then consider the additional qualifications or degrees you’ll need. Then break those down into sub-goals. When you subdivide your professional desires into smaller chunks, they become less overwhelming and more attainable.

  1. Write them out. Seeing your long- and short-term goals in print can really cement them in your mind. Maybe it’s the visual reminder that resonates with you, or perhaps the act of writing signifies your commitment to follow through.

Some people are partial to pens, journals, paper calendars and sticky notes. Others enjoy digital tools: spreadsheets, smartphone reminders, calendars synced across devices, and productivity apps. Either way, it all speaks to solid planning. Use the method you prefer or mix and match. What’s important is that you create a visible space for your list of goals, which can be more powerful — and motivating — than just loose thoughts in your head.

  1. Seek expert advice. Achieving more is in your best interest, but it also benefits your employer. That’s why it makes sense to involve your boss — both during the goal-setting process and as you pass milestones. Your supervisor should be all for your plans for professional improvement and can offer support and training.

Others who can assist you along your journey are mentors. They’re tenured professionals who may or may not work for your employer. Their years of experience positions them perfectly to offer career advice and insights that can help you advance towards the finish line.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at roberthalf.co.uk/blog.

26 Feb

Why Accounting Executives Should Care About Corporate Culture

A healthy and inspiring corporate culture starts at the top. Think of it as trickle-down values. Through their words and deeds, leaders shape an organisation’s written or unwritten code of conduct. Employees pay careful attention, modelling themselves after senior managers — especially if they aspire to the C-suite.

In a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey of more than 2,200 CFOs from across the United States, 51 per cent said they are involved in the shaping of their organisation’s corporate culture. Of those respondents, 83 per cent said they used their company’s values and principles to inform their decision-making, with 79 per cent saying they actively contribute to developing those values.

Tips for shaping workplace culture

There’s no getting around the importance of an appealing corporate culture. If it’s negative or toxic, top talent — those who have their choice of jobs — will leave. Financial leaders are in positions of influence, so a large chunk of shaping corporate culture responsibility falls on them. Here are six tips for improving office culture:

  1. Instill a sense of purpose. Your employees aren’t robots blindly following orders without needing to see the bigger picture. To keep accounting and finance staff engaged, don’t leave them in the dark about their impact. Talk frequently about how their work contributes to the company’s success. Make the time to communicate with staff and tell them that their work matters.
  2. Show your appreciation. Publicly recognise employees who live the company’s values. This means going beyond incentives for meeting or exceeding financial goals. Also, shine a spotlight on individuals who lend a helping hand, offer exceptional customer service or go beyond the call of duty. Doing so not only reinforces such behavior, but it also boosts employee morale.

  3. Value continuing education. You want to be known as a forward-looking company. To that end, bring in outside specialists for lunch-and-learn sessions. Send workers to accounting conferences so they can stay up to date on industry best practices. Help them attain a qualification or degree. Let current and prospective employees know that the company happily invests in staff training and professional development.
  4. Promote transparency. Nobody likes to be out of the loop. Consider opening the books to employees and keeping them updated on the company’s financial performance. When workers feel informed and included, they have a greater sense of empowerment and self-worth. In turn, they will be more invested in their job — as a contributing partner in the organisation rather than just another minion.
  5. Talk about careers. Highly skilled workers aren’t content to stay in one role for long. Once they feel they’re in a dead-end job, they won’t hesitate to look elsewhere for professional advancement. As part of regular one-on-one conversations with top talent, discuss their in-house career path. Instead of asking them where they could possibly see themselves in two, five and 10 years, show them. And give them the skills development to reach those rungs.
    6. Hire well. Whether you’re bringing in summer interns or a new CEO, pay attention to candidates’ values and character as much as their education and work history. Make sure every person who joins the organisation fully appreciates and resonates with the corporate culture you’re working so hard to shape. To hire the right people, you should ask interview questions that dig beyond just functional skills. When on your premises for the interview, have them spend time with current employees. And don’t skip the reference check.

At the core of a strong accounting team are happy workers, and corporate culture can make or break happiness in the workplace. Pinpointing a set of core values gives organisations and their employees a guiding light that can influence decision-making, promote accountability and serve as an ethical compass.

A healthy corporate culture is vital to keeping accounting staff motivated, engaged and loyal. It also makes hiring easier. Since this effort starts and ends at the top, shaping and managing your workplace culture should be prioritized as much as the bottom line.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at roberthalf.co.uk/blog

19 Jan

What to Consider Before Quitting a Job

Many people put a career move at the top of their list of New Year’s resolutions. If that describes you, you may want to think carefully before you leap.

For global accountants in countries with a low unemployment rate, finding a new job will be relatively easy. Yet, of the finance professionals polled for an Accountemps survey, 23 per cent say they have regrets about leaving a former job.

Before you quit your job, be absolutely sure leaving it is the best course of action. If you’ve found a new dream job, that’s reason enough. But if you’re simply dissatisfied with your current situation, consider these tips:

  • Audit your dissatisfaction. Be honest with yourself and pinpoint exactly why you want to leave your job. Then see if handing in your notice is the best recourse. If the source of your discontentment is something that can be resolved with a few open discussions, consider fixing the situation before taking any other steps.
  • Start a dialogue. Chances are good your manager isn’t aware of your unhappiness. Be open about your feelings, but don’t just complain. Employers appreciate workers who are problem solvers. Let’s say you’re no longer interested in your assignments. Rather than talking about how bored you are, approach your boss with ideas that could add interest to your work and also benefit the company.
  • Take this time to add to your credentials. When you work toward another certification or degree, you’re not only shaking up your routine, but you’re also making yourself more valuable to current and future employers. Most upper-level accountancy jobs require applicants to be a fully qualified CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants), ACA (Association of Chartered Accountants) or ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants). Some companies help pay for their employees’ continuing education, and if yours does, you should take advantage of this perk before changing jobs.
  • Seek an outsider’s opinion. A senior-level finance professional — someone who’s not your boss — is an excellent resource when you need a clear, unbiased perspective on your current job situation and want wider options.
  • Take a break. Temporarily unplugging from the office could be just what you need to recharge your batteries and possibly fall in love with your job again. If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that offers sabbaticals, take advantage of this perk to consider your options. If not, use those accrued holidays for a well-deserved time away.

How to resign with grace

Let’s say you’ve considered every alternative and decided the best career move is a new job. After securing it, here are some tips for parting ways with your current employer and leaving on a positive note:

  • Give proper notice. It’s not always mandatory to give your employer notice, depending on your country of employment, but it is always a good gesture. In the UK, for example, the mandatory notice period is one week if you’ve worked at a company for at least a month. To leave on good terms, let your boss know at least two weeks before your last day on the job.
  • Be helpful. During the notice period, get all your projects ready to hand off to your replacement(s). Be generous about training and assisting the people who will take over your workload.
  • Don’t burn your bridges. Even if you hate your current job, never do or say anything you could later regret. The accounting world is small, and word can get around very quickly — perhaps even to your next employer. Besides, you may one day want to return to the company or find yourself working with former co-workers.
  • Be smart about exit interviews. Your final meeting with HR is not the time to air your grievances. When asked why you’re leaving, simply mention your desire for a new challenge. Mention the positive aspects of the job and all the things you’ve learned during your tenure. If asked about ways the company could improve employee retention, be honest, yet tactful.

Life is too short to be stuck in a dead-end position. If you’ve decided that 2018 is the year you’ll be happy at work, be deliberate about making positive changes — whether at your current job or with a brand new employer.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at roberthalf.co.uk/blog.
29 Nov

Where Are the World’s Happiest Workers?

It just makes sense that workers who are content in their jobs are more productive and motivated than those who are not. But for managers to cultivate happy teams, the challenge is knowing what compels employees to arrive at the office each day enthusiastic and engaged rather than dreading the morning slog into work.

A Robert Half study – IT’S TIME WE ALL WORK HAPPY.® – unearths what drives on-the-job happiness in eight countries around the world. More than 23,000 professionals across Europe, North America and Australia participated in interviews, and the results show that motivating factors vary from country to country.

Per the research, the United States has the happiest workers in the world, followed by Germany and the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom trails in sixth place. Employees in France are reportedly the least happy, coming in last.

So, what are the key drivers of worker happiness for the top three countries? And, more importantly, what takeaways can you apply to your own accounting department?

United States

Pride in their organisation is the highest-ranked driver of happiness for workers in the U.S. It also takes the number-one spot in Canada and the UK, and is the strongest driver for those working in financial services globally. If accountants, auditors and payroll clerks don’t feel proud of their employer, they’re more likely to move on, creating a real problem for managers and their remaining team members.

Take some time to instil and strengthen a sense of pride within your staff. Is your organisation committed to supporting community growth? Giving back to charity? Championing innovation? What about your company’s products or services themselves? How do they help people? If you spotlight the core purpose underpinning the work your team members do, a sense of pride and engagement will likely follow.

Germany

Being treated with fairness and respect is the most important factor keeping German workers content. It’s also the highest-rated driver for employees in Australia, Belgium and France, and ranks in the top three for every single country surveyed, showing how universally prized this values is.

According to a separate Robert Half survey, equitable pay is a major issue affecting a worker’s sense of fairness and respect. Nobody wants to feel like management is picking favourites. With all the online resources regarding the latest salary ranges, it doesn’t take much for employees to discover where their own compensation stands. An open salary policy could benefit your company by showing employees they are being treated fairly. If you’re not ready for that much transparency, you could publicise internal salary ranges for each job category or grade level.

Netherlands

Accomplishment tops the list in the Netherlands, with Dutch workers who were surveyed saying a sense of achievement affects their on-the-job happiness the most. The French and Australians also cite this value as a top driver of happiness. Overall, finance professionals list a sense of accomplishment as the top factor affecting their job satisfaction.

As a manager, it pays to ensure each employee has fulfilling duties and measurable goals that can be reviewed regularly. Do your financial analysts see their contribution steering the company in the right direction? Could an astute bookkeeper take on more complex duties or be promoted to a higher role? Having tangible milestones to strive for can motivate your team and prevent them from drifting into apathy.

Other major drivers of worker happiness

  • Feeling appreciated. Employee recognition is an important source of satisfaction in half of the countries we surveyed. In addition, it’s the leading motivator for accounting professionals specifically. Thanking and praising your staff is crucial for employees to feel valued for their hard work and contributions.
  • Respondents in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium ranked job freedom as the third most important driver of contentment. Finance and accounting professionals benefit from a sense of autonomy on the job. Free from the glare of an uber-critical or micromanaging boss, workers are at liberty to be innovative.
  • Stimulating work. German workers in our survey are the ones most interested in their jobs. The Netherlands and the U.S. follow closely behind. The fact these top three countries for overall worker happiness also rank highest for this driver shows that compelling assignments are an integral component of job satisfaction.
  • Low stress. The Dutch are not only happy and interested in their jobs, but they’re also the least stressed out of all the workers we surveyed. Why? One big reason is the country’s emphasis on work-life balance. To increase your employees’ happiness level, help them juggle their personal and professional responsibilities. Such perks could include flexible scheduling, generous vacation days, job sharing and a compressed workweek.

With your busy schedule, promoting workplace happiness may seem like a low-priority item. But it shouldn’t be. Employees who enjoy what they do are likely to turn in excellent work and unlikely to seek opportunities elsewhere, making your job easier — and you happier as well.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at roberthalf.co.uk/blog.

26 Oct

Why Do Good Employees Leave and What Can You Do About It?

If you feel your department is understaffed, you’re not alone. According to the Robert Half report Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function 2017, 39% of U.S. business leaders interviewed feel their departments don’t have a full complement of employees. The largest companies — those worth $5 billion or more — feel the biggest pinch, with 62% of respondents saying they’re somewhat or severely understaffed.

While the retirement of baby boomers is one reason for the employee shortage, another is today’s competitive recruitment market, where demand outpaces the availability of skilled accountants.

Whatever the cause, once you’ve landed highly skilled professionals, you need to make sure they’re happy if you want to keep them. And you’ll need to do that sooner rather than later: Another Robert Half study finds that 42% of workers polled are likely to look for a new job in the next year. Among the millennial (ages 18–34) cohort, that figure jumps to 68%.

How can leaders hold on to their top performers? The key to retaining employees who are on the verge of jumping ship is to understand what’s behind their dissatisfaction. Here are the top three reasons people leave, followed by what you can do to trim your turnover rate:

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  1. Subpar salary and benefits

The top cause of employee departures, cited by 39% of workers surveyed, is inadequate compensation and benefits. Starting salaries have been trending upward since the beginning of the decade, but accountants who have been in the same job for several years may not have seen a comparable bump in wages. For them, the best way to get a pay hike is to find a new job with a higher salary.

From an employer’s point of view, low wages is a poor reason to lose a valuable team member. Not only would you have to replace them with professionals who know their market value, you’d also have the costs of recruiting and training. In addition, you lose institutional knowledge and the client relationships they’d built.

Solution: Benchmark your employees’ salaries to make sure you’re in sync with what they may be offered by other firms, which you can do with the Robert Half 2018 Salary Guide. Make sure what your workers earn is at least in the middle of the scale. To really boost morale and increase loyalty, proactively increase salaries.

  1. Unhappiness with management

More money is great, but it can’t make up for strained employer-employee relations. Good bosses inspire workers and make them want to work harder toward a common goal. Bad bosses create a toxic workplace that drives away talent, according to the recent Robert Half report IT’S TIME WE ALL WORK HAPPY.®

Solution: What puts a smile on workers’ faces and a spring in their step? The top two drivers for accountants are feeling appreciated for the work they do and being treated fairly, and managers play a large role in both. Accountants work long hours and mostly behind the scenes. Make the effort to publicly recognise their important contributions with sincere words and tokens of appreciation. Don’t overwork them – bringing in interim staff during peak seasons is a thoughtful way to demonstrate your respect for their work-life balance.

  1. Limited opportunities

For 14% of workers surveyed, they’d move on because their career has stalled. The more they feel they’re in a dead end job, the more they seek an escape route. This is especially the case for accountants just starting out. They’re eager to learn, climb the corporate ladder and make their mark.

Solution: Do you talk about career pathing with individual team members? If you don’t, you’re missing out on a valuable retention tool. At least once a year, perhaps during performance review season, discuss employees’ future within the firm. Plot out a possible course of progression, including the professional development needed to reach their goals. Work with them to develop a short-term plan, such as which industry conferences to attend and when they’ll complete a certain financial certification. Also take a longer-term view, with discussions on moving into management or a specialisation such as analytics. Let them know you value them enough to invest in their future.

Retention is not always a manager’s top priority, but that could be a mistake. Your best people may be happy today, but what about 12 months from now? The only way to be sure they’ll still be around is to create a work environment so desirable they won’t want to go anywhere else.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at roberthalf.co.uk/blog.

22 Aug

10 Ways to Beat Workplace Stress

Working overtime, barely making deadlines, a demanding boss: These pressures may be part of life for an accountant. According to a recent Accountemps survey of U.S. workers, 60 per cent of respondents said their level of job-related stress has risen over the last five years.

The survey also finds a generational difference. Of the respondents, 64 per cent of millennials (ages 18 to 34) report feeling workplace pressure — compared to only 35 per cent of their more experienced (55 years of age and older) counterparts.

As the more leisurely days of summer give way to busier ones, a primer on how to manage stress in the workplace can help accounting and finance professionals adhere to mounting workloads.

  1. Master your calendar. A major source of stress in the office is too many meetings and not enough time to focus on pressing tasks. Protect your work hours by scheduling periods throughout the day designated for specific assignments.
  2. Stop juggling. You may pride yourself on your ability to multitask, but constantly changing directions actually hampers your productivity and adds to your stress level. A better approach is to finish one assignment before turning your attention to another.
  3. Work off-site. Is your workplace loud and distracting? Do phone conversations and office chitchat prevent you from concentrating on data analysis or reconciling ledgers? If so, ask your supervisor if you can telecommute a couple days a week. The peace and quiet of home could help you focus.
  4. Turn on the tunes. If you can’t get away from the noisy environment, put in ear buds and listen to something more pleasant. But don’t tune in to talk radio or anything that can pull your attention. Better choices are music without lyrics, white noise or sounds of nature.
  5. Lighten your load. Analyse your work calendar and to-do list. What can you cut out? Detangle yourself by foregoing nonessential activities that get in the way of meeting deadlines. Another option is to discuss your workload with your supervisor to see if there is anything you can delegate to other team members.
  6. Make down time a daily habit. When deadlines are relentless, it can be tempting to work a full day without stopping for a real break. Skipping lunch every once in a while won’t lead to burnout, but regularly pushing yourself like that is unsustainable. Consider blocking off small chunks of time on your calendar each day to get away from work. The notification will remind you to take your break.
  7. Get the blood flowing. De-stress by making exercise a regular part of your routine. Moving your body can improve both your physical and mental health. Exercise can also boost your memory, helping you work more productively and accurately. So take the stairs instead of the elevator. Sign up for a lunchtime yoga or tai chi class. Make it a habit to go outside for a brisk walk after lunch.
  8. Visualise relaxation. When you feel panic starting to rise, go to your happy place. Positive imagery can help in times of stress. Close your eyes, start breathing slowly and deeply, and picture yourself in a serene setting. Once you feel calm, slowly open your eyes and pick up where you left off.
  9. Use your paid holidays. Some accounting and finance professionals skip part of their annual leave due to heavy workloads. However, foregoing a holiday actually makes it harder for workers to cope with job pressures. Use the time off that you’ve earned — your body and mind deserve time away from the office
  10. Ask for help. The last thing your boss wants is for you to burn out and quit. If the most recent tax season or year-end close was almost more than you could handle on your own, speak up and request assistance. It could be time for your company to hire additional staff — just for the peak period, on a full-time basis or both.

    Stress is bad for you and your accounting career. Whether you’re just starting out or nearing retirement, prioritise healthy habits so you can remain happy and productive on the job.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at roberthalf.co.uk/blog

26 Jun

Tomorrow’s C-suite for today’s business challenges by Anne Watson

Specialist expertise has never been more valuable at executive level. The business landscape is becoming increasingly complex – frequent political and economic curveballs, our thirst for instant information and the continuing march of technology has created a challenging environment for companies large and small, with the pressure evident in the boardroom.

Issues such as the recent cyber security breaches affected organisations across the world and left business leaders perplexed at to what they could do proactively address challenges like this which have previously been unforeseen.

The danger for any management team in this climate is focusing a disproportionate amount of effort on tackling ‘here-and-now’ challenges, and neglecting to future-proof the business.

Executives must consider how to manage new challenges effectively, ensuring that due attention can be spent looking to the future. To do this, management teams are increasingly reassessing the expertise within their C-suite. Are their people in possession of the skills needed to tackle new and emerging challenges? Is undue time being spent on issues that perhaps could be better handled, much more quickly, by someone with specialist expertise?

In Touch Networks is a group of professional networks for senior executives – one of the fastest growing tech companies in the UK, it has changed how non-executive directors are recruited.

Anne Watson, COO of In Touch Networks, says recent discussions with senior management teams and non-executive directors have highlighted a shift taking place, with more of a focus on specific skills. As a result, we are likely to see the introduction of new C-suite roles requiring specialist expertise, and also the recruitment of non-executive directors (NEDs) based on such skills rather than focusing on previous ‘big ticket’ roles.

Anne highlights some of the new C-suite roles we could see in the boardroom:

Chief Customer Officer (CCO)

There is a thirst for instant information and the proliferation of social media has given consumers huge power; C-suite executives are acutely aware of customers’ ability to influence the perception of their brand, and their power to create chaos, as evidenced during the recent US Airlines debacle. With multiple marketing avenues and ‘touchpoints’ on the average brand’s customer journey, smart businesses will begin to open their eyes to the benefits of a C-suite customer champion.

Chief Automation Officers (CAO)

At SXSW, Microsoft’s Kate Crawford spoke about AI, saying “We have to make artificial intelligence systems more transparent and accountable.” Her thoughts echo the concerns of many executives who recognise the ability of AI to revolutionise their business, but are wary of its potential to create unforeseen challenges. As the technology continues to develop, driven by the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon and others, we are likely to see the introduction of specialist AI experts to the Boardroom table.

Chief Freelance Relationships Officer (CFRO)

Beyond the ‘gig economy’ and its intricacies, there is an important change taking place with the growth in self-employment. It’s a change that has seen huge benefits to businesses who have embraced this new, more flexible way of working, relying on a network of talented, experienced freelancers. The trend is predicted to increase, with co-working spaces popping up in cities across the country to keep pace with demand. However, executives are mindful of the fact that much of their talent lies outside the business, and are acutely aware of the importance of keeping freelance talent happy. As the preference for self-employment gathers pace, we are likely to see the introduction of the CFRO into the C-suites of larger companies, tasked with ensuring their business retains top talent.

Chief Cyber Security Officer (CSSO)

Cyber security is not a new issue, but is certainly a growing one. Yet, despite 75 per cent of UK businesses admitting that cyber-security is a priority for their senior management, only 3 per cent employ a specialist cyber security officer, with responsibility instead given to either the CEO or CFO. Furthermore, just under half of UK businesses identified at least one cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months, yet only 11 per cent have a cyber security incident management strategy in place. New York recently introduced cyber security accountability for Wall Street executives; we can expect the UK to follow suit, with the more commonplace introduction of the CSSO at board-level.

Chief Futurist Officer (CFUO)

We have long been in awe of the futurist, their ability to study the future and make predictions based on mathematical analysis and assessment of future trends. With continuing political and socio-economic developments and the advancement of technology, we will see companies following in the footsteps of Google, Wired and Cisco, appointing dedicated Futurists, joining the C-suite to provide powerful advice and counsel to senior management teams.

Written by Anne Watson, COO at In Touch Networks

21 Jun

Almost half of accounting professionals don’t leave their desk for lunch

Research from the Robert Walters Career Lifestyle Survey1 has revealed that 45% of finance professionals do not leave their desk for lunch. 24% left their desk but remain in the office while just 31% left the office during their break while.

The survey also found that almost half (48%) of finance professionals take 30 minutes or less for lunch each day and 5% said they skip their lunch entirely.

Marcus Blackburn, Associate Director for accounting finance recruitment at Robert Walters, comments:

The scope of many accounting professionals’ roles has expanded in recent years, with employers looking for accountants to take an active role in helping to drive and shape elements of company strategy
However, this has had the knock on effect of putting many finance professionals under growing pressure, leading them to forgo their lunch break in order to meet deadlines and deliver on projects
Managers need to remain aware of the detrimental impact that this can have on the morale and productivity of staff, potentially leading to burnout when finance professionals feel under pressure not to take much needed breaks to relax and recharge during the day

The survey also found that 52% of finance professionals would consider leaving a role due to a company culture which expected consistently long hours.

Only a lack of career progression (65%) and a difficult boss (57%) were more likely to lead accountants to consider leaving their role.

Marcus Blackburn continues:

Work life balance is a growing priority for finance professionals and employers should consider this when developing a strategy for retaining high calibre staff long-term
While career progression and relationships with managers and colleagues can potentially have a larger impact, managers should not neglect the impact that a culture of long working hours can have on having a negative impact on staff retention