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Finance teams across the UK have been working hard to manage down costs while also looking for growth opportunities to help their organisation climb its way out of recession. However with salaries and bonuses, which have still not recovered to pre 2008 levels, businesses are being forced to evolve their retention strategies to keep top talent, according to the latest research from Michael Page and Page Personnel.

The survey of more than 1500 hiring finance managers revealed that promotion opportunities are now at the top of their staff’s wish list. In fact, one-third said it is the most important retention strategy for their business, ranking higher than salary increases which has decreased in importance from 21.5% last year to 19% this year.

Gareth Davage, Managing Director, Michael Page Finance said the aftermath of years of slow economic growth has led to increased emphasis on retention and succession planning across the board.

“In comparison to last year, promotions, flexible working and benefits packages have increased in importance while relying on salary increases to keep staff happy is the only tactic which has seen a decrease.

“We are starting to see more sophisticated retention schemes across the board, in particular in regions where businesses are reliant on their finance team to deliver growth strategies, yet are being restricted by a talent shortage,” Mr Davage said.

According to the findings, in Yorkshire, the Midlands and Home Counties, businesses are favouring benefits packages to ensure finance staff are satisfied. While, in the North West and South West nearly one in five are offering flexible working packages, significantly above the national average of 14.8%.

Working against the trend, around one in four finance teams in Greater London and the South Coast are still relying on salary increasing as a vital retention strategy to keep staff engaged.

The research also revealed that the Home Counties region was proving to be the most buoyant showing more positive results than the rest of the UK. In particular, 38% of finance teams in these areas said they expect to increase headcount, whereas nationally expectations to increase headcount were down from 37.7% last year to 35.5% this year.

Similarly, 72.5% of Home Counties finance teams said they expect to pay bonuses and salaries next year, significantly higher than the UK national average of 67% which is already down 3% on last year.

“The Home Counties and Thames Valley regions have a high concentration of food manufacturing and FMCG companies which are proving to be more countercyclical to the current economic conditions,” Mr Davage said.

“The FMCG sector has seen steady growth nationally which has boosted recruitment for finance professionals. In particular, we have seen many companies invest in finance staff who can provide a value add such as working closer with production and product development teams to increase efficiency and maximise profits,” he said.


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