The rise of remote work within accounting and finance

Vaco - The rise of remote work in accounting and finance - blog graphic

The nation’s water coolers have been pretty lonely since the pandemic emptied offices seemingly overnight. And guess what? Those burbling hubs of workplace hubbub may just have to get used to it, because the people have spoken. The classic 9-to-5 office environment may be on its way out the door.

We learned a lot of lessons over the past couple of years. Lessons like: The “mute” function is your friend. It’s remarkably okay to use the term “bio break.”  Pandemic pants are definitely a thing. And “unprecedented” is so 2020. 

In the “surprising lessons learned category,” many employers discovered that their teams could be just as productive — and often even more productive — working from home. In the “not-so-surprising lesson” category, we learned that people like flexibility. Remote work options helped people maintain some semblance of work-life balance, even when there was very little balance to be found in the world around them. 

The virus may be waning, but the demand for flexible work and remote work options in the accounting and finance world remains high. Today’s employees want remote flexibility to be a permanent part of their professional lives. And in our candidate-driven market, they have the power to ask for it.

Employees want accounting and finance companies to make work permanently flexible

According to a survey commissioned by Catalyst and CNBC, a whopping 76% of employees say they want their company to make work permanently flexible in terms of schedule and/or location. However, in some instances, their desire for flexibility is being met with pushback from employers that believe employees work harder on-site.

Companies that don’t offer flexible work options will lose top talent to competitors that do.

For candidates in the current market, flexible work options are a key differentiator among potential employers. With so many companies adopting permanent remote and hybrid work models (and spreading the word about their commitment to flexibility), great candidates can choose to exclusively pursue opportunities that meet those expectations.  

Dan Chait, Associate Director of Accounting and Finance Solutions at Vaco in San Diego, has seen firsthand how the labor market has transformed in recent months, from being employer-driven to distinctly candidate-driven.

“Now more than ever, candidates have the keys to drive the market to their liking. Companies are now the ones that have to respond to candidate demands instead of the other way around—a fast shift from market realities just a couple of years ago,” Chait says.  

Chait points out that a growing number of companies are embracing the benefits of hiring a remote and inherently more diverse workforce. But the companies that maintain rigid policies—like demanding employees work full-time in an office—are quickly falling behind in the hiring process. 

The “Big Quit”

As for companies that don’t offer flexible work policies? And leaders who believe their people work harder and are more innovative in the office? The “Great Resignation,” also known as the “Big Quit,” is going to hit them especially hard.

The latest labor report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that 4.3 million workers quit their jobs in August. That’s 242,000 more people saying “I quit!” than in July. The monthly quit rate hit 2.9%. And the financial activities, professional and business services, and finance and insurance sectors all experienced 20-year highs in quit levels in August 2021. In September, the quit rate hit a new 20-year high: a staggering 3%. 

Vaco - The Big Quit Data Graphic (2)

Joslyn Osborn, the leader of Vaco’s Accounting and Finance Direct Hire division, says that employers that expect their team members to be on-site full time may need to adjust their hiring timelines and, most importantly, look into interim resources while they continue their talent search.

“I try to tell hiring managers in these situations that this might take a while. If your company is in-office five days a week and that policy is out of your control, hiring may require more time than previously needed to find a candidate willing to be on-site full time. So you’re definitely going to need to bring in an interim resource,” says Osborn.

Osborn emphasizes how interim accounting and finance support can ensure that critical projects and initiatives keep moving. It can also help create a better environment and workload for welcoming a new long-term employee.

“Your position will be more attractive to the permanent person you want to hire if they know the work has been getting done,” Osborn said.

Without flexibility as a selling point, finding the perfect long-term accounting and finance team member may take a really, really long time.

How can companies respond to the rise in remote work in accounting and finance?

To compete for the very best candidates, competitive salary ranges and attractive benefits are the way to go. Make sure you understand the true market ranges for the position you’re looking to fill. If you don’t have accurate salary information, you may need to perform a salary evaluation before you begin recruiting and hiring.

Next, create a benefits package that responds to your employees’ needs and is truly beneficial to them. The more satisfied your workforce is, the more engaged and committed they’ll be to their work and your company. 

Benefits aren’t just about which healthcare plan you offer and which Federal holidays you do or don’t observe. They’re about holistic well-being: Health, happiness, and prosperity. Generous vacation packages, company-wide rest and rejuvenation days, wellness programs, tuition reimbursement, and child care reimbursements may entice highly qualified workers to join your team. 

Accounting and Finance Data and Trends - Vaco eBook Download

Get a complete breakdown of trends and statistics on the current accounting and finance hiring market by downloading Vaco’s latest eBook today

With you all the way from “What can I do?” to “We did great!”

It’s a candidate’s market out there. A lot is happening and a lot is changing within the accounting and finance industry. Many companies are turning to Vaco to help them find highly skilled finance and accounting professionals who are well-versed in today’s technology and data-driven methodologies. To make the market’s unpredictability less stressful, and to help companies attract and retain top talent, we’re also helping leaders develop remote and/or flexible positions. And if a company just needs a helping hand while they’re sourcing that perfect forever fit, we’re always ready to step in with highly-qualified interim resources.

If your company is facing talent gaps, and you need a strategic partner in filling them, Vaco is with you all the way.

Contact us today. 

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