According to the US Bureau of Labor Services (BLS), things are looking up in terms of employment gains in the business and professional services sector, with 1.1 million new jobs added over the last 12 months. From July to August, the sector’s additions to payroll employees grew by a whopping 68,000. However, not every subsector reaped such gains. Payroll employees in the legal services sector declined by nearly 9,000.
Today’s job market is uniquely slanted in favor of job seekers rather than the businesses recruiting them. Since job seekers have the upper hand, and many professional services firms are looking to fill open positions, your firm has to understand what employees and job seekers are looking for to stay ahead and attract top talent.
The pandemic ushered in a new mindset. Employees have realigned their work and life priorities, and many have come to expect flexible working arrangements. And the Great Resignation taught employers that their top talent is less likely to stay if they’re less accommodating than their competition.
Interestingly, the average workweek from August 2021 to August 2022 for employees on payroll within the professional and business services sector has hovered around 36.5 hours. While some employees are certainly still working part-time because their employers have reduced their hours, this data may also support the continued desire for better work/life balance and increased flexibility.
Collaboration & Support
Technical challenges, a lack of communication, job insecurities, and other frustrations can become overwhelming, especially for remote workers. Sufficient and ongoing training, proper equipment, and adequate decision-making authority form a critical foundation that can help your firm empower its employees.
Automating manual tasks and utilizing integrated software solutions for scheduling, payroll, and time tracking can help keep your employees productive and engaged, regardless of their location. No matter your method or system, it should not be overly complex, as your employees are more likely to adopt user-friendly solutions and straightforward policies.
Company Culture & Social Responsibility
It’s not just about checking boxes, completing duties, and just getting through the work day any longer. Employees expect a positive experience out of their employment, which includes strong values and a sense of community.
For many of us, the pandemic has also instilled a greater sense of compassion, which means many employees and job seekers hold charity and social responsibility in higher regard. Programs like corporate sponsorships can set you apart from the competition. For example, you can facilitate pre-tax donations to an organization like the United Way. And if you match part of all of those employee donations, you can strengthen the impact of your support.
Competitive Pay, Better Benefits & Job Security
Gone are the days when familiarity and routine were enough to keep top talent from seeking greener pastures. Today’s employees are more apt to seek better pay and benefits actively. Attracting top talent and retaining key employees may require you to rethink your compensation model and align your employee benefits with your competitors.
To foster loyalty and retain top talent today, professional services firms also need to consider providing certain assurances. We all fear the unknown, so it helps to be transparent with your employees, whether the topic is your firm’s financial standing and sustainability or the outlook for a specific job role or position. Being candid can help alleviate fears and improve employee retention.
ARB’s Professional Services Firm Advisory Team provides tax, accounting, and advisory services to architecture firms, engineering firms, law firms, marketing agencies, and consulting firms so that they can shift the primary focus back to client service. And we understand your industry through and through. After all, we are a professional services firm too!
I want to help your firm develop savvy, sensible solutions to win the war on talent and optimize profitability. If you’d like to discuss your strategy, contact me today.
John Hadwen joined ARB in 2021 as a tax director. He specializes in providing individuals and businesses with comprehensive tax compliance and consulting services related to closely-held business, manufacturing, construction & real estate, and professional services firm taxation. Prior to joining ARB, John was a Tax Principal at a large, regional CPA firm.