With the skills shortage in Australia brewing for a number of years, it’s now reached boiling point with an increase in staff poaching within the mid-tier sector.
The Australian Financial Review reports poaching is on the rise and this is bad news for mid-tier firms. Some say they are being forced to offer salaries 10% higher than their competitors, increase bonuses and speed up promotions in an attempt to retain their experienced staff.
With unemployment the lowest it’s been in years and a significant drop in new accounting graduates, replacing staff members has arguably never been harder.
In this blog, we look at how some of the leading mid-tier firms are responding to the skills shortage and the strategies they’re implementing to protect their workforce from poaching efforts.
1. Above Market Wage
One of the simplest (although more expensive) strategies to hold onto key staff is to increase wages.
The chairman of national firm Nexia, Mal Di Giulio said “…we have moved towards ensuring our staff are paid above or in line with the market rate….”
However, it’s worth noting that while increased salaries can solve the problem short-term, they should be aligned with other existing employees to prevent them from being a risk of also jumping ship.
2. Culture, Training & Development
The world of work has changed and with it, more demand for workplace flexibility.
Work from home, hybrid models and the 4-day work week are all being experimented with across industries and early results show these benefits are paying dividends in terms of employee satisfaction.
In addition to that, benefits like additional training, career development and coaching are also being used to increase employee satisfaction and loyalty.
3. Increased Bonuses & Perks
Along with increased salaries, additional bonuses are also on offer.
Steven Dadich, Managing Partner of Thomas Hopper & Partners said that along with ramping up salaries ‘We are paying significant annual bonuses to retain our senior and professional staff… This approach is assisting in warding off larger rivals looking at long-term professional staff”
Others are also offering sign-on payments, study completion retention bonuses and competitive maternity leave policies.
4. Promotion Fastrack
Unlike larger firms who tend to operate within rigid frameworks, mid-tier firms have more flexibility to offer internal promotions to top performers free of set time limits.
Chris Kirkwood, Partner at accounting and business advisory firm ESV said “As a top 50 accountancy firm in a highly competitive Sydney market, we have immense pressure on our qualified, trained staff – our larger rivals continue to, at times aggressively court our team members”
ESV are using promotions as a key strategy to retain staff and has ‘no time limit in place (for staff) to get to the next level’.
In an environment where mid-tier firms are battling decreased graduate numbers, low unemployment and aggressive poaching campaigns from other firms, it’s no wonder that the skills shortage has become the single biggest challenge heading into 2023.
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Find out how other mid-tier firms are combating the skills shortage.
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