CAREER development is one key strategy to beat the stream of accountancy support talent walking out the door in Singapore, says recruiting expert Hays.

In a market where each new hire needs to be justified, the cost of low retention has never been more relevant to the accountancy support market. The ongoing shortage of payrollers continues while the high turnover of accounts payable and assistant accountants, who typically move on to other roles once they qualify, is unlikely to change.

Candidates will continue to use support roles as a stepping stone to higher-level positions, regardless of economic conditions, and so employers need to revisit their retention strategies and consider how they can keep their top performers within the business while at the same time delivering the career progression they seek.

Ultimately, it is far more economical to provide your star accountancy support with career development opportunities to retain them at the next level up and then backfill their support function. The alternative is to lose them and then have to recruit two new team members.

According to Hays Accountancy & Finance, a retention plan for accountancy support staff should include:

* A career plan: Employees in accountancy support roles will eventually want the next step up, so offer a good mentor, succession planning, engaging projects and opportunities to stretch their existing skills.

* Up-skilling: What additional experience can you offer? Many candidates are ultimately looking for business partnering commercial roles where they can influence business outcomes and decisions, so try to introduce duties to develop them along this path.

* Culture: Accountancy support candidates are far more likely to be retained in an organisation offering a good corporate culture.

* Work-life balance: Candidates are moving from Big Four accountancy firms into commerce and industry for improved flexible work arrangements. So make work-life balance part of your retention plan.

* Maintain headcount: Many candidates working in larger companies have been driven by productivity pressure to look for a new employer. Organisations that have not replaced departing staff have seen employees enter the jobs market in response to the increased pressure they are under.

* Salary: While the motivation for many candidates is career advancement, salaries need to remain competitive if you are to retain your top talent. Those companies that are not offering salary increases in today’s economic climate are losing people, who move jobs to achieve a higher salary.

* Quality clients: One of the main reasons support candidates move within the profession is to work on projects involving larger clients. This is also why they often seek to move to larger firms.

Follow these guidelines to make your organisation more attractive to work for. Your high-performing support staff will be less inclined to move if they enjoy a satisfying work life with you.