Keeping your People and Talent Strategy Relevant

Staff recruitment and retention remain key concerns for employers across all industries, particularly as external pressures such as rising costs take hold. 

Gareth John hosts a discussion to look at the wide ranging/ rapidly changing labour market and employment environment, as well as what employers can do to effectively adapt and continue to assist staff development.

People and Talent Management in Finance

Keeping your People and Talent Strategy Relevant

Staff recruitment and retention remain key concerns for employers across all industries, particularly as external pressures such as rising costs take hold. 

Gareth John hosts a discussion to look at the wide ranging/ rapidly changing labour market and employment environment, as well as what employers can do to effectively adapt and continue to assist staff development.

Keeping your people and talent strategy relevant is more important than ever. Staff resource availability remains a massive issue for businesses. 87% of respondents to a poll during our FITT forum said that this was the biggest issue currently facing their business. It, therefore, appears that most accountants are facing similar challenges in recruitment, onboarding, retention and talent development.

This article shares highlights from the session where guest speakers, listed below, joined Gareth John to discuss employers’ approaches to keep staff engaged and loyal when they qualify. As well as how to appeal to experienced candidates in the marketplace looking for their next role.

Speakers and panelists

  • Claire Angus, Head of Recruitment Gateway at Cambridge Network
  • Caroline Bixby, HR Director at Scrutton Bland
  • Kelly Drewery, Business Psychologist and specialist in team coaching and development
  • Javed Bobat, Finance recruiter with a focus on post-placement support
  • Dave PayneHead of Access and Volunteer Programmes at the ICAEW

You can watch the recording of the forum by clicking the button below.

Retaining and Attracting Qualified Staff

Poll Results

At the beginning of the session, attendees were asked to complete a poll answering:

What are your three biggest current business issues?

  •     87%   – Staff resource availability
  •     51%   – Salary increases
  •     41%   – Staff wellbeing and mental health support
  •     36%   – Upskilling staff in emerging skills ie digital
  •     13%   – Energy price increases
  •     13%   – Inflation in other input costs ie raw mat’s, distribution
  •       5%   – Supply-chain shortages
  •       5%   – Falling demand levels

Which of the following currently relates to your organisation?

  •     79%   – Challenges in recruiting for experienced/qualified roles
  •     56%   – Challenges in retaining experienced/qualified colleagues
  •     38%   – Challenges in recruiting for entry-level/trainee roles
  •     23%   – Challenges in recruiting for senior leadership roles
  •     21%   – Challenges in retaining entry-level/trainee colleagues
  •     13%   – Challenges in retaining senior leadership roles
  •      0%   – No challenges recruiting or retaining at any level

What is your current experience of the labour markets?

  •     92%   – Recruiting staff is more challenging than in the past
  •     56%   – Retaining staff is more challenging than in the past
  •     13%   – Retaining staff is no more or less challenging
  •       8%   – Recruiting staff is no more or less challenging
  •       0%   – Recruiting staff is less challenging than in the past
  •       0%   – Retaining staff is less challenging than in the past

It is clear from these poll results that ‘people’ is a much bigger issue for businesses than other big current concerns that tend to make the press.

Employer vs Candidate

The Cambridge Network, a membership organisation with 1,200 members, is hearing that members are struggling to recruit across all industries. Many applicants have already had 2-3 other offers by the time they come for an interview.

The Cambridge Network, Talent Glue, and Recrion have come together to help establish what is happening for local employers and workers in the current market. Research from their employer and employee survey into the resourcing pipeline has found the following findings:

Workforce planning

  • Businesses are finding it harder to know what types of people to target and where people could be physically based
  • Candidates are finding it difficult to know what employers want, particularly relating to whether their skills match what the employer is looking for
  • Employers should therefore be clearer and more upfront about the skills they want on job applications

Recruitment communications

  • Recruiters are finding it harder to attract the right quality of applicant
  • Workers are finding it more difficult to find job roles that suit their skills, they feel the quality of job adverts could be improved
  • Employers should consider providing salary information on job adverts, as well as details about flexibility (eg hours, location etc), and assist candidates to know whether they are right for the role

Recruitment process

  • Businesses are now finding it easier to process candidates in a timely way however many are finding they are loosing more candidates through the recruitment process
  • Candidates are now expecting a quicker pace during the recruitment process
  • If employers are taking too long, they risk losing candidates


  • Team culture and fit for both parties are more important than ever. Employers are particularly struggling to assess candidates’ fit
  • Some candidates feel their value and skills are not being properly assessed by potential employers
  • Businesses can help by being clear about their culture and the type of person that would fit into their organisation

Employment deal

  • Nearly half of recruiters are finding it more difficult to negotiate a suitable deal with candidates
  • With more choices available to them, candidates want more benefits – a gap is forming between expectations between employer and employee
  • Candidates want more opportunity to discuss whether the role and company is the right for them, to consider them for other roles, and to be open about the salary offer

Onboarding process

  • Recruiters are finding the onboarding process has been getting harder, particularly relating to the culture, bonding with colleagues, and the expected pace
  • However, other aspects are easier such as getting set up online and access to senior managers as part of an induction
  • Recruits are finding it harder since the shift to more hybrid workplaces to understand the culture of the organisation and how to get things done
  • Employers should consider young people and how to increase their exposure in a new role, as well as ensure the company regularly engages with its employes in social settings

Retention and wellbeing

  • Employers are finding it more difficult to retain new recruits in their first year. Many are leaving due to the wellbeing and workload they are taking on when they start
  • Recruits are also finding it harder to network with people outside of their direct team

Career development

  • It is more difficult for businesses to ensure workers have good career mobility within the organisation. Employers should help their employees make these connections
  • Some workers are finding it more difficult to access opportunities for learning and development whilst others are finding this easier
  • Furthermore, employers often don’t feel the employer takes time to develop them in line with the job

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Mental health and wellbeing are becoming increasingly important for existing employees and potential candidates. It should therefore be to businesses too. It is essential companies prioritise mental health and wellbeing by putting aside a tangible budget towards them rather than seeing it as a tick box exercise.

Investing in staff wellbeing can increase retention rates as happier employees are more likely to stay longer at the company. Showcasing what you are doing as a business can also help attract more candidates in the recruitment process.

Measures employers can take in improving mental health and wellbeing include implementing strong communication with new starters within the first 90 days to help integration, encouraging social activities to allow staff to feel part of something, hiring mental health first aiders, and encouraging a personal approach.

Getting Results

Scrutton Bland has found it has increased retention and recruitment rates by using an internal recruiter with a dedicated person for the role. They are a better advocate for the organisation, can answer all questions, and makes the whole process quicker and slicker.

The phase between an offer and starting a role is becoming increasingly relevant as competition for staff grows. Employers need to keep new recruits engaged, this can be done by setting up a career plan, introducing a buddy, making regular contact, setting up group chats, having social events, and effectively communicating what is happening next.

For existing staff, businesses can increase retention by creating reasons to come to the office, integrate, and be social. Particularly during work hours. This creates an environment of support and belonging.

The CBI has found that as companies offer more competitive salaries to attract candidates, some smaller firms have been left unable to compete. As a result, softer benefits such asc personal development opportunities, holiday, and flexible working have become more relevant.

Furthermore, the speed of the recruitment process is more important in order to stay competitive. Particularly for roles that can be learned on the job – the quicker the better.

Internal opportunities inside an organisation can encourage people to stay. Companies that invest in employee personal development tend to benefit from higher retention.

How to Increase Access to Workers

Rise is an initiative working to equip young adults in hard-to-reach areas of the UK with the skills they need to work in accountancy. Workshops target young adults in rural areas, as well as low socio-economic talent, bringing business context and relevant skills to subjects already being taught in schools.

Access Accountancy provides work experience opportunities for those of low socio-economic backgrounds, as well as helps with them through the whole recruitment and onboarding process.

The organisations not only help disadvantaged young adults but also widens the pool of potential employees for businesses to recruit from.

Useful Resources

First Intuition’s pre-start resources to help bridge the knowledge gaps for new trainees onboarding:

Complete the survey ‘Is recruitment broken?’ relating to the resource pipeline:

Candidate attraction report:

The CBI’s free Skills and Labour Shortages Hub:

More information about Rise:,

More information about Access Accountancy: