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Finding qualified staff: A new approach

October 31, 2019  |  Linda Wedul

Finding qualified staff: A new approach The world is changing at an accelerated pace, and yet in some ways it stays the same. Once again, the top challenge identified by accounting profession leaders is finding qualified staff.
I recognize that we’re facing an uphill battle. For starters, the college graduate pool from which to hire is shrinking. At September’s Accounting and Auditing Student Conference, several accounting educators shared student enrollment forecasts in higher education. In short, 2025 is going to be a watershed year for colleges and universities; it’s projected that higher education will have a 15% enrollment decline. By 2030, companies will be fiercely competing to hire the best and brightest from a smaller pool of new grads. 
Furthermore, the skills that are in demand are quickly changing. Robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies are being integrated into all organizational levels, driving the need for different skills and knowledge. The challenge to find qualified staff is exacerbated by the fast pace of changing technology.
Consider what a job description looks like today given all our workplace demands. Ask yourself, “Do I meet all the criteria on this list?”
  • Adaptability
  • Collaborative
  • Communication skills
  • Complex problem solving
  • Continuous learning
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Cultural awareness
  • Digital aptitude
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Judgment
  • Negotiation skills
  • People management
  • Resilience
  • Resource management
  • Risk-taking
  • Service orientation
  • Technical capability
  • Time management
  • Workload management
Are we looking for the unicorn employee and then disappointed when one can’t be found?
Now, let’s assume this amazing, brilliant candidate is found who has even 80% of these skills. Does the salary offer match the level of skill and capabilities expected? Does the work environment offer flexible work arrangements or is everyone expected to be at their desk at 8 a.m. on the dot? Does the new employee onboarding process reflect a caring and supportive culture? Or are they shown to their desk and tossed a computer only to discover that not all the necessary logins are set up? Does the first day include lunch with team members, or are they expected to fend for themselves? Is a development path shared that leads to increased responsibility and salary increases, or is that path obscure?
To help address the staffing challenge, each business should have the same tools in their recruitment and retention toolkit:
  • A clear business strategy to identify the vital skills needed.
  • Recruitment with a focus on aptitude to learn.
  • Investments in continuous development and upskilling.
  • Compensation that is fair and equitable.
  • Leadership that ensures a supportive and inclusive culture that builds relationships.
There are endless ways to use these tools and no two businesses will use them in exactly the same way. Solving the recruitment and retention challenge starts with leadership and creating a culture that brings out the best in employees. Learn, experiment and engage your team to develop your unique talent strategy.

Topics: Supervision, Recruitment & Retention, Practice Management

Linda Wedul

Linda Wedul is president and CEO of the MNCPA. She’s usually spotted at MNCPA events, introducing herself to members with a warm smile and memorable laugh. Mixed among the Footnotes, accounting journals, leadership books and three monitors in her office, you’d be surprised to see a dog kennel. Her unpaid job is volunteering as a foster family for service dogs in training through Can-Do-Canines. She and her husband have two adult children and live in Farmington. Linda can be reached at 952-885-5516 or lwedul@mncpa.org.

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