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

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