Talent shortage is the number one threat to business, according to a survey of leaders of the Fortune 500 companies. This is because the US is experiencing a strong demand for labour and low unemployment after COVID, dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’. The rest of the world is in the same predicament, although not always for the same reasons.


Global demand for accountants

Accounting Weekly reports that South African accountants are emigrating at an alarming rate. Graeme Marais, director of Blue Recruiting, explained that chartered accountants have always been lured overseas but the ‘trickle has turned into a flood as the global war for talent ramps up’. To make matters worse, South Africa’s visa system makes it nearly impossible for skilled immigrants to replace them.


We’ve collated four points of advice to help your finance department thrive during this skills shortage.


1. Embrace flexible hours and remote work

The pandemic taught us that it’s possible to work remotely, especially if you embrace a culture of check-ins. In an interview with CFOTalks, De’Longi’s Finance and HR Executive, Yolandi Engelbrecht, says their company performed well during lockdown as they were used to working closely with the head office in Italy via online meeting platforms.

She says, “We were already used to using Skype and Zoom as a form of daily communication. So the switch over to remote working from home wasn’t a challenge for anyone and business really continued smoothly. From the first day of the national lockdown, we did daily check-ins and collaborations between all staff members and departments and business resumed.”


Due to the shortage of skilled professionals, the best candidates usually receive several job offers, meaning they can command top salaries and dictate employment perks. Flexibility or a hybrid working situation is usually high on their list of desired perks. A survey by a top recruiter in the US, Robert Half, found that people working from home were happier and more motivated. In fact, 75% of the workers surveyed said they wanted to work remotely at least part of the time.


Firms that don’t embrace flexibility risk losing their best workers.


2. Automate mundane tasks to keep staff happy

In an interview with automation expert Armand Angeli, he outlines how adopting AI is about more than just direct costs. It is about improving the customer’s experience and, importantly, about employee happiness.


“Employee quality of life is key because right now you can’t hire. So if you have an old type of company, nobody wants to join. You need to show the new employees or the existing employees that you are using new technology… You are going to see the results of not spending (on improving technology) within a few years because your employees are going to leave, your customer is going to leave, and you are going to have to shut down your company.”


3. Make work meaningful to staff

Deloitte’s report titled CFO Insights Unlocking the secrets of employee engagement, finds that making work meaningful is a significant part of an organisation being irresistable to employees.


It says, “Despite the rise of technology and pressures for increased productivity, research shows that when we enrich jobs, giving people more decision-making power, time, and support, the company tends to make more money. Beyond that, research also shows that meaningful work often takes place in small teams—and engaged people need time to think, create, and rest.”


4. Provide a respectful and encouraging working environment

Encouraging employees to (respectfully) speak their minds, add their input and give feedback makes people feel valued. Often employees leave a well-paying position because of a hostile atmosphere.

In her interview with CFOTalks, Engelbrecht talks about a World Health Organisation report which shows that every $1 spent on mental strength development has a $4 return in terms of productivity.


Leaders should not underestimate the value of an encouraging working environment.

Listen to our full interview with Yolandi Engelbrecht here.


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