Recent research from staffing specialist Walters People shows that there have been some changes over the last year in what accountants value most from their employer. Salary is no longer a priority, colleagues are. Kevin Blockx, Senior Manager and specialist in recruiting accounting and finance professionals, explains what their top five looks like.

Inspiring colleagues and company culture

Working from home has been a daily routine for most finance professionals for over a year now. A chat with colleagues around the coffee machine seems to many to be something from the distant past. Fortunately, there are alternatives such as Teams and Zoom, so we can still keep in touch with team members. Because good colleagues are important for accountants, as it turns out. Nearly half (45%) of the respondents surveyed indicated that good colleagues and an inspiring company culture are number one on the list of things they value most in their current employer.

Job security

Job security comes in second place for more than one in three accountants. Kevin: "The corona pandemic obviously plays an important role in this. In the past year, many people have lost their jobs or have been put on temporary unemployment, whether long term or not."

Yet accountants need not fear being out of work. Over the past 12 months, only one third of all accounting vacancies have been filled. This year, the position of bookkeeper has even been included in the VDAB list of positions hard to fill.

Challenging work

Challenging work is the third most important factor that accountants find important with their employer. This was not even in the top five in 2020. "Again, working from home for months has a significant influence," says Kevin. "Daily social contact with colleagues is not possible, and if you're not surrounded by housemates you can chat with from time to time, a working day can quickly become monotonous. If your job doesn't give you any satisfaction, you quickly become demotivated. Hence, it's important to have a job you feel good about and that you find challenging.”

Attractive salary

A nice salary package clearly does not seem to be a top priority for accountants anymore. For barely 32%, salary is the most important motivator for their employer. For the first time in years, salary expectations are low this year: 34% of accountants hoped to receive a salary increase in 2021. In 2020, that percentage was 76%. "Understandable, given the current economic situation. Many organisations are struggling and saw their revenues fall because of the corona pandemic. Employees therefore realise all too well that it is not the ideal time to negotiate a salary increase when their employer has been hit hard by this crisis and certainly not when colleagues have been laid off as a result. They are satisfied with the salary they have or do not want to jeopardise the job security that their organisation offers."

Open and transparent management

An open and transparent management concludes the top five. Just because there is so much uncertainty due to the corona pandemic, employees say it is important that their employer communicates openly and transparently, especially when changes are imminent within the organisation. "The finance team obviously knows better than anyone how the organisation is doing financially. If the financial situation of the organisation worsens, this quickly creates anxiety among staff. And this is where accountants can make a difference: with their insights and conclusions from the financial numbers, they can make targeted recommendations to management. By consulting with management and the HR department, together they can ensure that employees know what is going on and what the plans of the organisation are," says Kevin.

Want to know more about the latest trends in the job market for accountants?

Watch our webinar 'The future role of the Accountant: trends & insights in Belgium'. Looking for a new challenge? Take a look at our jobs in accountancy.

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