Professional firms get creative in fight for talent

16 December 2022 / Insight posted in Article

Firms in the professional services sector, more than most sectors, are struggling to recruit and retain high-quality people. Higher salaries are not enough to secure talent. Those firms who are winning in the fight for talent are coming up with imaginative solutions beyond the usual flexi-working, free lunch, hip new office and gym membership. 

Our recent survey of senior people in professional services firms tells us that very few are thinking creatively enough. Unsurprisingly, the majority of survey respondents offer flexible working, with 87% offering hybrid solutions, 44% offering flexible hours and 19% offering completely remote working. 72% of the respondents have seen a positive impact of these changes with the majority of these firms seeing more engaged employees, increased productivity and reduced absence as a result. However, in a post-Coronavirus world where these flexible working practices are expected as a minimum, to get the best people through the door and retain a high-performing workforce, firms need to think bigger. 

Increasing employee engagement and productivity

While we know a small number of firms, 6% of respondents, have trialled a four-day week, many professional firms do not consider this possible. This may be due to workload, client service hours or the collaboration aspect of many professional services. Additionally, our survey indicates that even four-day weeks and sabbaticals aren’t really cutting the mustard, although they are a nice-to-have. We have found that what matters to today’s professional jobseeker is a tangible demonstration that their employer is ethically minded.

Ethical professional services firms are successfully recruiting at all levels, particularly candidates demanding genuine employer ethics in terms of ESG. Of course, ESG is a vast area and each firm will have its own take on it. However, common themes include employee wellbeing; conservation; diversity, equity and inclusion; and community give-back.  

Employees shaping the firm not vice versa

The professional services firms going beyond superficial box-ticking are the ones who are succeeding in retaining and attracting talent. As a sector reliant almost entirely on human capital, it makes sense to nurture their people’s sense of wellbeing and learn from their moral compass. 

Some firms promote initiatives that coalesce both employees and clients in shared social ambitions. Others give their people paid leave to volunteer for a worthy cause. Additionally, some firms are engaging wellbeing facilitators to implement staff mental health programmes. 

A few firms are going down the route of becoming ethically certified, a badge which they wear with honour. Meanwhile, others prefer to hand-pick the ethical standards they adhere to, enabling them to create a personalised portfolio of credentials. 

The possibilities are endless but they must be desirable, maintainable and authentic to satisfy current employees and attract fresh recruits. This is where we can help. 

HR experts helping professional services firms recruit

Professional services firms stealing one over the competition are centering their vision on their people. Surprisingly, 31% of respondents to our survey did not carry out consultation with their employees before implementing any changes to working practices. It is vital that you listen to your people to make sure your firm is making the right changes. We can help you make the right choices and with this, stand out as an employer of choice.

Moore Kingston Smith’s HR Consultancy comprises knowledgeable HR, employee relations and employment law specialists, many with in-house industry experience. We can help you boost your employee engagement and redesign your reward and recognition strategy. You will be offering something unique and appealing, enabling you to snap up the best professional services minds on the market. 

Additionally, here are some links which you might find useful:

HR Consultancy – experts in recruitment and retention

Talent 360 – gives your people strategy a 360° overhaul

Wellbeing 360 – builds a robust mechanism to safeguard your people’s mental health

Enterprise Series – Employee Ownership Trust

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