28 Aug

6 Tips for Working Remotely

Working from home can mean goodbye to packed trains and afternoon gridlock, and many job seekers value this perk. In fact, 77 per cent of the professionals who responded to a recent Robert Half survey said they’re more willing to accept a job offer if it came with the possibility of working remotely at least part of the time.

Telecommuting is a major aspect of the modern workplace, yet it’s not without its challenges. Not every accountant functions well outside of a traditional office environment. And if your boss senses that you’re one of them who doesn’t, you might lose this privilege. Here are six ways to make the most of this flexible work arrangement:

1. Get each day off to the right start. Telecommuting means you can work in your pyjamas, but that doesn’t mean you should. Many remote employees find they’re more productive if they approach each day as if they were going to the office. So get dressed, work at a desk (instead of in bed) and start the morning at the same time your other colleagues do — or before. This is a good way of focusing and staying in a professional mode throughout the day.

2. When you’re at work, be at work. Working from home has advantages, such as being able to sign for packages. But if you’re not disciplined, you may find yourself doing laundry and running to the store when you’re supposed to be reconciling accounts. Abuse of working hours is the biggest pitfall of telecommuting, according to the survey, which may be why some employers are reluctant to offer this perk. Unless you get permission from your boss to work nonstandard hours, such as when your clients are in a different time zone, make it a practice to work from 9 to 5 each day.

3. Stay in touch. Isolation is a major issue for telecommuters. In an office, you can simply pop over to a co-worker’s desk and ask questions or bounce ideas off them whenever you like. Collaboration is more challenging when you’re off-site, which means you’ll have to work harder to connect. One way is to make the most of technology, such as conference calls, video chats, IM and other tools like Slack or Google Hangouts.

4. Have clear objectives. Because supervisors can’t check in on teleworkers as easily, they rely on results. That’s why before you start working part-time or full-time from home, you should talk with your boss about their expectations and how they’ll measure your performance. Are there a certain number of tasks or deliverables that need to be completed? What does a productive day look like to your boss? Know what your target is, and make sure you hit it daily.

5. Optimise your tech setup.
In an office environment, you can count on the IT department to take care of your internet connection, computer, phone and other equipment. Working remotely, however, you may be in charge of buying, troubleshooting and fixing the technology that makes telecommuting possible. Here are some tips:

Have a back-up plan in case you lose your home internet connection. Make sure you know how to tether your laptop to your mobile phone for a personal hotspot. Having a list of nearby public places that offer Wi-Fi, like coffee shops or libraries, can come into handy.

Purchase a good headset microphone for phone and video conference calls that won’t annoy other attendees. Also make sure you have access to a quiet room — preferably with an uncluttered background.

Update your computer with the latest security fixes and antivirus software.

Install a VPN (virtual private network) on your home router, laptop and smartphone to protect sensitive data. Your employer may cover the cost of a reliable VPN subscription. If you travel to countries whose government restricts internet access, a VPN is the only way to access the cloud-based tools you use regularly.

6. Get in face time. Business networking should always be a priority for finance professionals. It’s even more important for remote workers, especially networking within your own company. If you’re a full-time telecommuter, you probably don’t get much in-person time with your boss. To offset this pitfall, attend work parties, don’t skip optional social gatherings, and go to seminars and conferences. Let colleagues and managers know you’re a fully invested member of the team.

Telecommuting is a great perk that can help you juggle your professional and personal responsibilities. These six tips can help you make sure it doesn’t negatively impact your career.

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 Jul

Benefits of Having a Mentor, and How to Find One

As any young wizard, new Jedi or ring-bearing Hobbit will tell you, having a mentor can mean the difference between meeting your goal and failing miserably. Yet only 26 per cent of the workers Accountemps surveyed actually have one.

If you’re among the finance specialists who don’t think they need guidance from a more experienced professional, you may want to reconsider. Here are five reasons to make having a mentor a top career goal:

1. Executives are willing. Sixty-two per cent of the CFOs interviewed for a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey have been a mentor at some point in their career. This suggests the majority of finance execs understand the value of such a relationship and are interested in paying it forward. In other words, if you ask a veteran accountant to mentor you, chances are good they’ll agree.

2. You learn from someone in a role you aspire to. Your university degree taught you how to be a good accountant and auditor, but it didn’t tell you much about climbing the career ladder. Someone who currently has your dream job is the ideal person to mentor you. With their first-hand experience, they can tell you what accounting certifications are most valuable and which career path to take for what roles. You also get to learn from their past successes and failures, which helps you make better decisions in the early days of your career.

3. Mentors teach you the unwritten rules. Every organisation and accounting speciality has its own culture and best practices — very few of which are found in print. A mentor can show you the ropes and help you avoid pitfalls that can slow down your progress. They are also a valuable resource for industry information and insider tips.

4. Mentors are a sounding board. You have ideas and dreams, but are all of them good for your career? A professional mentor can offer an outsider’s view on everything from writing a great business email to jumpstarting a stalled career. They won’t hold your hand, though. Rather, their job is to listen, let you know whether you’re on the right track and give pointers along the way.

5. Mentors can open doors. As long-time accounting pros, mentors not only know things, but they know people. This means they can introduce you to industry leaders and enlarge your professional network. And the more people you have in your circle of contacts, the better your chances of working on high-profile projects and hearing about interesting job openings.

How to find a mentor in the accounting industry

Here are some tips for finding and working with a mentor.

Understand what a mentor is not. When compiling a list of potential candidates, leave off the names of your boss and your boss’s boss. A mentor’s role is to offer occasional guidance and advice — not directly or indirectly supervise you. The ideal person to serve in this role is someone who has more experience than you but is in a different department or company.

Weigh internal vs. external. There are pros and cons to having a mentor in the same organisation: They know who’s who, understand the corporate culture and can help you navigate internal politics. Some businesses and accounting firms, especially larger employers, also have formal mentoring programs — making the process much easier. However, you’ll have difficulty discussing a new job search with an in-house mentor, which means you could be on your own when putting together a CV or determining whether an offer is competitive.

Look for a role model. Seek out experienced professionals whose career you’d like to emulate and who share similar values, goals and personality traits. While opposites can get along, it’s much easier to learn from people who are more like you than not.

Be a good mentee. Mentors want to help you, but you need to hold up your end of the bargain by respecting their time and communicating clearly. This means initiating meetings, checking in between sessions and thanking them for their guidance. Other mentee musts: prepare for each meeting, show up on time and complete recommended tasks

Nobody makes it to the top alone. And after you’ve found your Yoda to your Luke, nurture this valuable professional relationship.

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 Jul

Qualifications outweigh experience for finance professionals

Just 6% of CFOs believe that industry experience is more important than qualifications when recruiting finance professionals according to research from Robert Walters, totaljobs and Jobsite. Professionals are widely in agreement, with just 11% of accountants believing that industry experience will be the key factor in developing their career.

The research also revealed distinctions in how much value employers place on various qualifications. ACA/ICAS was considered valuable by the largest number of employers (53%) followed by ACCA (50%) and CIMA (41%).

By contrast, just 12% of employers felt that AAT qualifications were valuable, with professionals in agreement.

Habiba Khatoon, Associate Director, Robert Walters Birmingham, comments:

For finance professionals, formal professional qualifications have a huge impact on their ability to progress within their career and which roles are available to them.

While industry experience can still be valued by employers, formal qualifications will be essential for candidates when putting themselves forwards for a role.

Among professional qualifications, it is also clear that ACA and ICAS are held in highest regard by employers, but this is not to say that possessing certifications from other professional bodies will inhibit the ability of candidates to secure desirable roles, particularly in light of ongoing skills shortages within the sector.

MID LEVEL PROFESSIONALS THE MOST SOUGHT AFTER

Management level finance professionals are expected to be the most sought after, with 54% of employers anticipating skills shortages at this level. This contrasts with 38% who are expecting skills shortages at junior or executive level. Just 8% of employers expect to face a shortage of candidates to fill director or senior management roles.

Habiba Khatoon continues:

Skills shortages remain acute at mid management level as a long-term consequence of reduced graduate level hiring during the recession. This has created a bottleneck at management level, with a lack of finance professionals possessing the skills and experience to take on business partnering roles.

In addition to difficulties sourcing candidates with sufficient experience, many employers have also struggled to find candidates who can demonstrate soft skills in areas such as communication and the ability to manage the expectations of internal stakeholders, both of which are essential for more strategic roles

To request a full copy of the research please submit your information via the following link: www.robertwalters.co.uk/solvingtheskillsshortage

28 Jun

The Pros and Cons of Job Hopping for Accountants

These days, employees see job hopping — generally defined as changing roles every one to two years — as acceptable. A recent Robert Half study reveals that of the workers surveyed, 64 per cent believe switching jobs frequently can benefit their career. The younger and more educated the respondents, the more positively they feel about job hopping.

But many employers don’t agree. Forty-four per cent of the CFOs surveyed said they avoid job applicants who can’t seem to stay put. To hop or not to hop? To help you decide, here are some pros and cons.

Benefits of job hopping

Some may be surprised that 20 per cent of the executives surveyed for the survey actually prefer candidates who have job hopped. Here are some reasons it can be a positive career move for accountants:

Broad exposure. Every time you change companies, you experience different accounting technologies and another workplace culture. This means job hoppers often have a wider perspective of their field leading to expanded skill sets.

Flexibility. Job hoppers are no strangers to change. Accounting firms and departments are eager to hire professionals who can easily adapt to new clients, processes, system software and regulatory mandates. Having flexibility is a trait that appeals to many hiring managers.

Bigger circle of contacts. By working for different companies and clients, job hoppers improve their business networking skills and gather new contacts in the process. Networking know-how can help you rise quickly in your accounting career. 

Career advancement. Rather than waiting around for a promotion, job hoppers actively go after one by seeking new roles with more responsibilities – and the commensurate higher salary.

Drawbacks of job hopping

Despite all the professional and financial benefits, changing jobs every year or so can come at a cost. Here’s why:

Negative perception. Recruiting workers and training new hires is an expensive and time-consuming business. Firms may hesitate to spend resources on candidates who are unlikely to stick around for long. A series of short stints on a CV suggests to employers you’re difficult to get along with or are a flight risk.

Breadth not depth. By constantly moving on, accountants are exposed to new systems and different practice areas – but not for very long at a time. This means that while job hoppers often have a wide range of knowledge, they might lack the expertise and proficiency to use it fully.

Superficial connections. Job hoppers don’t hang around one place long enough to develop meaningful relationships. In practical terms, your larger network may not be as effective as you think it is when you try to tap your contacts for introductions and other favours.

Make the most of your current role

Think long and hard before jumping ship. Are you eager to quit because you dislike the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system the company uses? That could be because you haven’t mastered it yet. Leaving now could be a lost opportunity to become an expert user.

Are you impatient that you haven’t moved up the ladder yet? Try asking your boss for a promotion and raise before you launch yet another job search. Your CV may look better if you can show future employers that you have staying power.

In short, explore in-house options before moving on, especially if you’ve been at the job for less than two years.

How to resign gracefully

If you believe changing jobs is the right thing to do, end on a good note. Give your employer a proper notice period and wrap up any outstanding projects — or at least get them in good enough shape to hand off to the next person. Don’t burn bridges. Not only will you need a good reference later on, but you also never know when you and former bosses will cross paths again.

A job hopper’s CV needn’t raise red flags. Demonstrate how you’ve added value to each company you’ve worked for. Provide examples of how you’ve grown professionally, taking on progressively more responsibility and bigger challenges.

The bottom line: Job hopping is both a good and bad way to advance your career. So don’t be afraid to embrace your ambitions, but think long-term before you leap.

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 Robert Half career and management advice, follow roberthalf.co.uk/blog.

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.