Professional Services Sector Struggling To Retain and Attract Staff
The post covid world for professional services seems to have been very buoyant with all the accountants, lawyers and financial services professionals I speak to being very busy. In fact, for many professional services firms, the last 12/18 months have been the busiest they have been in a long time. However, whilst being busy is great, the challenge comes with retaining existing staff and attracting new staff.
The other end of the conversations I have with other professional services firms is that they cannot seem to fill the open roles or even find suitable candidates to interview. What’s causing this issue?
In my opinion, the single biggest factor is that, following covid, many professional services staff have been provided with greater autonomy regarding working from home. They can work from home more often and there is greater flexibility when it comes to managing a home and work life. This leads to individuals having better personal well-being, a great appreciation for their employer and overall better work-life balance. This has then led to many staff not changing jobs due to the uncertainty that a new employer can bring with working from home.
However, from an employer's point of view, what would be interesting to know is: has this led to greater productivity?
Another reason for the lack of professional services staff in particular at the more junior end is that there is an increasing number of younger people not wanting to work 9 to 5 behind a desk. I am increasingly taking on more younger clients that following covid are now pursuing their ‘side hustle’ full-time as they have become disillusioned with working 9 to 5 behind a desk for someone else. This has led to platforms like Etsy becoming more popular as people pursue their passions.
What does the future hold?
Interestingly, following the economic turmoil of the last few months, I do believe wage pressures are driven by the record levels of inflation we’re seeing and the demand for better employer benefit packages will drive more activity in professional services recruitment. Many professional services staff will want wage increases in line with inflation and when inflation is running at 10%, this is almost impossible for employers to maintain. So many individuals may ‘jump ship’ for ultimately a better salary but will want the benefit packages also – working from home, healthcare etc. Additionally, given how busy professional services are currently and will (hopefully) continue to be, it will also attract an increasing number of younger people that can see the benefit of working in professional services in uncertain economic times.