Hidden Secrets to 2008 Hiring Strategies

Flex scheduling emerges as key ingredient in CPA job changing plans. Which benefits matter most to CPAs? Join the study. Get the answers.

January 3, 2008
by Rick Telberg/For the Finance Executive

An old saying tells us that “time is money.” And that’s especially true for CPAs and finance professionals who may be thinking about changing jobs in 2008.

Paid vacations and insurance may top the list of benefits that CPAs expect. But flexible work scheduling — the ability to take time off as needed for personal or professional reasons — is surfacing as the key competitive differentiator for job changers, recruiters and managers alike. Flex scheduling is most often mentioned by accountants who cite newly emerging benefits.

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“The valuable benefits may not be monetary but rather more flexibility in the workday, such as every other Friday off and working nine-hour days,” said one senior corporate staffer.

Flexible work scheduling leads a growing list of nontraditional benefits that practitioners expect from the perfect job. Other nontraditional perks frequently cited include:

  • Eye care insurance plans
  • Health savings accounts
  • Legal services plans
  • Reimbursement for computer purchases

At the same time, traditional benefits remain in strong demand. The traditional benefits that CPAs most often cited this year are:

  • Paid vacations (identified by 98 percent)
  • Health insurance (96 percent)
  • Pension plans or 401(k)s (95 percent)
  • Paid sick leave (82 percent)
  • Disability insurance (69 percent)

Interestingly, the response rates for most of the benefits above were not much different from what we found in 2005, with the exception of disability insurance which was identified by only 58 percent three years ago. Also, reimbursement for education expenses, which ranked high with accountants in 2005, is barely a blip on practitioners’ important benefits radar screens this year.

Among the new breed of nontraditional benefits that practitioners like, flexible scheduling resonates across most sectors of the profession. For example, a senior level CPA in the government sector noted that “if you are counting on someone to be a professional, they should also be able to manage their busy and slow times while ensuring client satisfaction. Flexible working arrangements are very important.”

A senior staffer with a public practice firm suggested this variation on the theme of flexible schedules: “More paid days off since we work so much all year long.”

A senior executive CPA in business and industry noted that his company allows staff to “bank” hours worked in excess of 40 per week and then use it as compensatory additional vacation or personal days off when work in the office slows. He said that policy is his company’s way of reaching out to accountants who “feel overworked and underpaid.”

Flexible work schedules may also be the benefit that connects with both ends of the age spectrum — the young who bring new energy to the office but may need extra time for growing families, and older CPAs who bring experience but are in the twilight of their working lives.

“The older worker, who cannot retire early, could be attracted to the workplace given a reduced (amount of weekly hours),” said a senior executive CPA with a large business and industry organization.

A recent 60 Minutes broadcast noted that new college graduates may prove to be the most proficient workforce of all time. It also made the case that those grads are far more interested than past generations in flexible working arrangements and other nontraditional fringe benefits.

While higher salaries may be unavoidable, flexible schedules can ward off other costs. As one senior executive CPA in business and industry noted, “Flexible scheduling is a benefit that ties many to an employer and ‘costs’ the employer little.”

WHICH BENEFITS MATTER MOST TO CPAs? Join the study. Get the answers.

COMMENTS: Questions, rants or raves? Write Rick Telberg.

Copyright © 2008 Bay Street Group LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

About Rick Telberg

Rick Telberg is editor at large/director of online content.

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Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the AICPA or CPA2Biz. Official AICPA positions are determined through certain specific committee procedures, due process and deliberation.