With the jobs market rebounding and accelerating as Britain’s economy begins to return to normality, Chris Willsher, Senior Regional Director and Reed’s accountancy recruitment expert, believes now is a time of opportunity for those in accounting to attract new talent and support the potential of their employees in order to best position themselves in the post Covid world.

Though the coronavirus pandemic devastated the industry, with the number of accountancy jobs falling by 83% between January and April of 2020, it is clear that we are returning to pre-pandemic rates as Britain’s economy reopens. Since December 2020, the number of jobs in the sector have increased by 39%, returning closer to pre-pandemic levels – at 72% of jobs available in January 2020. This figure is similarly increasing, with an 11% rise in the number of accountancy jobs in the past two months.

Should Britain return to normality as planned, the accountancy sector is sure to continue to recover and boom. While the number of jobs in the sector continues to increase, the talent pool has begun to contract.

The average number of applicants per accountancy job has now dropped to below January 2020 rates, despite almost tripling during the height of the pandemic. Similarly, within the past two months, 22% less applicants have been applying for each job in the industry. It is evident that employers no longer have a luxury of talent and must be willing to accommodate employee needs and wishes.

Companies must be willing to battle for talent.

Changing employee demands

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 The power shift from employer to employee is clear when assessing the reasons behind worker dissatisfaction. A recent survey Reed conducted into the reasons behind moving jobs has demonstrated that the quest for a better work-life balance is the most common priority, with 43% of interviewees in the accountancy sector citing this as the main motivation for leaving a role.

In older demographics, a re-evaluation of priorities as a result of lockdown was emphasised in addition, and younger workers showed concern regarding progression, specifically seeking a pay rise. Across all age groups, 30% of people were dissatisfied with the way their employer acted during lockdown. It is clear therefore that employee demands have changed, and in the post-pandemic world employers must seek to provide more comforts to those working for them.

This does not refer to just monetary benefits.

Since the onset of the pandemic, salaries within accountancy have risen steadily by 2% since January 2020. And salaries across sectors are expected to continue to do so, by as much as 8%. With so many jobs enjoying a wage boom, it is up to companies and firms to think beyond financial benefits to attract the best talent from across the industry.

Attracting talent by offering more

 With the talent pool shrinking and employee demands diversifying, those in the accounting sector must work hard to present themselves in the best manner and seek to attract and retain staff through a multifaceted approach.

Essential areas such as working hour flexibility, the opportunity for progression and emphasis upon wellbeing should undoubtedly be emphasised within any strategy to recruit. Adopting a transparent approach to overcoming issues will also garner respect from workers and customers alike. Similarly, increasing worker benefits is also advisable in a world where the employee demands more.

A recent study from Westfield Health has revealed that a 29% of workers stressed the need for enhanced mental health support, while one in three employees underlined the need for long term changes to the way they work. Companies demonstrating forethought by planning measures to ease stress on employees stand in good stead to attract the best talent.

Clearly, in an increasingly competitive market, the ability to attract and retain talent is as important as ever. Investment in employee-oriented strategies, to foster an appealing environment in a now transformed, post-covid world, is pertinent and can result in maximising profits for both the employer and employee.

Working alongside trusted recruitment organisations that can connect available talent with company need, must remain a top priority as businesses adapt to a dynamic, transformed post-covid world.

People will be vital to companies and firms exiting difficulties and regaining control of their own futures. Candidates are looking for work-life balance, an employer that demonstrates care for their wellbeing and security for the future with clear progression that will help them fulfil their ambitions. If employers can achieve this then they will stand a great chance of securing the talent that secures their own future.