Flexibility overtakes remuneration as top motivator for accountants

Work-life balance tops the charts as the number one consideration for accountants considering a new role

The latest data from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and recruitment specialist Global Accounting Network has found that the majority of qualified accountants (55%) are motivated by flexibility and greater work-life balance when considering a new role – making it the number one consideration.
By comparison, in 2015 it was third on the list with little over a third (37%) of those surveyed rating ‘flexibility and greater work-life balance’ to be a core motivator.
The survey, CIMA 2016 Salary Insights, which collected responses from almost 8,000 CIMA members also found that over half (52%) of qualified respondents said they were driven by ‘financial reward’ and 42% cited ‘good working environment’ as a main motivator.
In contrast, the majority of student accountants (53%) continue to be influenced by financial reward. The criteria of ‘good working environment’, ‘training and development’ and ‘challenging workload’ were all also rated highly by around a third of the group (36%, 32% and 32% respectively).
Adrian O’ Connor, founding partner at the Global Accounting Network, said: “It’s no surprise that expectations around flexible working are evolving, but the fact that ‘flexibility and greater work-life balance’ as a core consideration shot up by 18% in just 12 months is indicative of a huge cultural shift.
“However, although candidates don’t yet expect flexible working as a given, on the ground there is certainly more interest in the availability of these type of roles than there was five years ago. Qualified accountants often make the move in-house to enjoy less prescriptive hours and expectations do vary between sectors.
“Flexibility is more commonplace in creative, media and tech firms, for example, which is perhaps linked to the fact that scope for effective work life integration depends on how technology driven a business is.
“In the future, it is likely that both accounting professionals and employers will become increasingly open-minded about the benefits of working outside of non-traditional office hours. Good talent is in short supply and companies need to be competitive to secure the best skills. Slow adopters in terms of flexibility risk missing out on the best people.
“It is to be expected that motivators differ between the student accountant and qualified accountant demographics. Flexible working is arguably more valuable for professionals later in their careers when they are more likely to have caring responsibilities or are just looking to slow the pace.
“Students, on the other hand, are right to seek out opportunities for development and challenging work to help build their skills and experience for the future.”

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