PracticeAccounting FirmsWar for talent: letting go too easily

War for talent: letting go too easily

Firms need to be proactive to hold on to talent

The ‘war’ for talent has been raging for years. The drift of newly-qualified
professionals to banking, or management consultancies, has many firms in
despair. Hiring hot talent and investing two years or more in training seems,
more than ever, like setting yourself up for a fall.

It isn’t an immutable law that your best people will leave. Yet many
professionals act as if it is. Why has everyone rolled over on this? Because
it’s easier to presume than it is to evaluate what is actually going on and then
do something about it.

The problem with the profession isn’t that investment banks can afford to pay
more money or that corporate banking is ‘sexier’. Rather it stems from some
basic issues that, with a little effort, could be addressed.

First up is a need to set your firm apart from the bankers and the
consultants. Accountancy needs an image overhaul. Without a change in mindset
and a focus on modernity, the profession will continue to haemorrhage talent.

Firms must create a culture that sets them apart. Forget extrinsic motivators
like salary and bonuses, ­ you can’t win there anyway.

Focus instead on the things that foster intrinsic motivation like personal
development, corporate social responsibility, innovation, opportunity, trust,
ethics and a willingness to change. This new focus will attract new talent and
believe me, the graduates attracted by this modern approach are a far more loyal
bunch than their money-motivated colleagues.

Becoming adept at identifying these superstars is then the easy bit. If you
really embrace the change and position yourself towards the front of the
innovation curve in the profession, more and more graduates will seek you out.
You should then use the most modern techniques to filter these eager applicants.
This also takes some effort, as most firms are good at identifying ability but
very few are good at identifying potential or predicting future performance.

But psychometric testing and motivational assessments can do most of the work
for you. Ensuring that your interviews are effective (ideally competency based)
can then help eliminate risk even further. Finally flexible packages and offers
that reflect individuality will seal the deal.

In the ‘war’ for talent the best thing to do is to stop fighting and start
thinking. Change seems risky but, if you don’t like change you’re going to like
irrelevance even less.

Robert Legget is managing director of Omni RMS

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