Salary, burnout and work-life balance are among the factors affecting retention of accountants, according to a report from the Illinois CPA Society.
The ICPAS released a report last month,
On the employer side, 449 professionals in leadership and management roles responded to the survey, outlining their views on retaining accounting and finance talent. On the employee side, responses from 433 accounting and finance professionals were received and analyzed to learn the reasons for resigning. The six key drivers of voluntary resignations, which account for the vast majority of turnover in the profession, were found to be:
2. Too many hours/burnout;
3. Lack of work-life balance;
4. Workplace culture;
5. Lack of advancement opportunities;
6. Work is uninteresting/mundane.
Nearly 39% of the employers surveyed said they’re seeing increased turnover rates at approximately 42% of public accounting firms and 34% of public and private companies. Fewer than 14% of the employers polled said their turnover rates are declining.
“Amid a progressively weakening pipeline of new accounting talent, we believe retention will become a more pressing issue than ever before, which is why our research for this year’s Insight Special Feature set out to answer the age-old question, ‘How do we keep them?'” said ICPAS president and CEO Geoffrey Brown in a statement. “The leading reasons talent cited for leaving their organizations shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the challenges facing the profession, but it’s our hope that the candid feedback from both employees and their employers will spur renewed action to reign in turnover.”
About 33% of the employers surveyed believe their accounting and finance talent is leaving the profession, although less than 1% of the employees who responded to the survey and who changed jobs said they actually have left the profession.
“Salary” was the most cited reason for survey respondents to resign and was also the most attractive benefit they see in an employer, as cited by 92% of respondents.
Across experience levels, the second most cited reason for accounting and finance professionals leave their jobs is “too many hours/burnout,” closely followed by the third most cited reason for quitting: “lack of work-life balance.”
Just over 67% of employers have seen workloads increase for staff at the leadership level due to their retention challenges, while 65% are seeing workloads go up for the remaining staff at similar levels, further compounding the issue of burnout.
“The goal of our research was to identify the top reasons talent leaves, understand when turnover is taking place and where talent is going, and call attention to any discrepancies between employer and employee perceptions,” said Kristin McGill, ICPAS vice president of member experience and engagement, in a statement. “While the truth is there won’t ever be a one-size-fits-all solution to quell high turnover across the profession, our findings provide data points that’ll better prepare leaders to take actionable steps to right their retention challenges and foster discussions that could lead to positive change.”
The survey found that job hopping is a myth to some extent, at least in the accounting field. Most employees who responded to the survey (67%) have had only one or two employers since entering the accounting and finance profession. On average, 44% stay with their employers for one to three years, 36% stay between four and six years, 18% stay seven years or longer, and just 2% leave within their first year.
Just over two-third (67%) of employees who responded to the survey view “career advancement paths and opportunities” as one of the most attractive benefits in an employer, while nearly 30% ranked “mentors/mentorship program” as one of their top desires. Yet, 48% of employers don’t (or don’t know if they do) communicate defined advancement paths for employees, and 43% don’t (or don’t know if they do) offer a mentorship program.
One-third (33%) of the employees surveyed are never asked what they value most in terms of employee benefits. On the other hand, 28% of employers who responded to the survey said they never ask their employees what they value most.
Nearly 81% of the employees polled said the feedback they provided during their exit interviews was at the very least somewhat candid. But only 39% of employers who responded to the survey believe the feedback received during exit interviews is truly valuable, and nearly 8% of employers surveyed don’t even conduct exit interviews.
According to the ICPAS findings, 64% of employers have upped employee compensation within the past two years, and nearly just as many have started offering remote work options. A little over 49% have implemented flexible hours. Only 14% of employers told the researchers they haven’t made any changes to address the turnover challenge. “This tells us employers are becoming more reactive and more willing to make change and right their retention efforts,” said the report.
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