This post is Part 2 of a series on Hiring Trends In Corporate Tax Departments: Rethinking How You Hire And Retain Tax Professionals. As an internationally recognized expert in search for tax executives with a long list of multinational clients, I must alert you that the seeds have been sown for the number of people who now desire to work from home. The horses are out of the barn and it will be a challenge to get them back in to headquarters. I have been communicating with lead tax executives, tax staff, recently reorganized tax departments, and everything is changing fast in hiring tax professionals around the world.
Despite the layoffs you see in some of the public accounting firms and the downsizing you see in organizations, there is a huge demand for technically trained tax expertise in many areas. Ask any corporate tax director searching for tax staff, and you will discover they are challenged to find and retain tax staff. Corporate tax executives may take months, and in some cases years, to fill their open tax positions. Look at the number of open tax opportunities on any job site and you will see the demand.
The pandemic and stay at home sheltering have taught many tax departments how to work from home. Conversations with corporate tax executives these past several a months and reach outs to thousands tax professionals they desire to hire has been an eyeopener. Here are some of the stories that have been conveyed to me personally.
“When the pandemic started our firm management told everyone to go home and locked the doors to the building in New York. We no longer had a lease of office space as the company cancelled the lease with the landlord. We are now all working from home.”
“Our tax department has been operating virtually for some time now and we did not miss a beat. In fact, our company allowed us to pick up equipment from the office to operate from home. We get more done working from home now and waste less time.”
“Our company gave everyone a seven hundred allowance to obtain high speed internet and cover the costs of working from home. We were all set up quickly and are getting all the tax work done for the company on time. It was an easy transition for us since we have been operating in the cloud for some time.”
“Our tax organization did not have all the tools to operate virtually and were slow to make the transition to the new technology available to us. We are making progress with the tax department but our progress is slower than we want.”
‘One of the enduring lessons of COVID-19 from a tax management perspective is that the world has changed. With high speed internet connections, dual monitors, scanners, and cloud-based solutions that house data, a professional tax person can work anywhere at any time. This will allow for greater work life balance, reduced stress, and greater productivity. This opens up new avenues in terms of sourcing tax talent.”
“We are doing a lot more work with much less support working from home. The need for tax staff with technology skills is greater than ever before. Where are all the tax staff as we have spent months looking for trained tax staff.”
“Our company is only allowing 25% building capacity due to the pandemic so we now can go to the office occasionally. There are many new rules in place that make it very difficult to keep up with all the changes as to how we work together as a tax team.”
You should know that recruiting tax staff with one to seven years of experience is a huge challenge for corporations all over the country right now. Many tax professionals at the lower levels in these firms can work from home; yet corporate tax departments are asking the tax professionals they hire to commit to work at the corporate office when everyone goes back to the office. Many millennial tax professionals are not interested in going back to the office and prefer the flexibility to work from home. Corporate tax departments now find themselves at a disadvantage to public accounting firms who now prefer to have their tax teams work from home. This is the reason so many tax staff are staying with firms right now versus moving making the market even tighter.
There is a significant difference in the mindset of the baby boomer tax hiring executives and the millennials they want to hire. Millennials grew up with technology that engages them through social and professional media platforms so they can connect easily online; baby boomers are accustomed to seeing their tax team visibly every day at the office. Baby boomers are now finding themselves having to adjust to having tax staff out of their site. As many tax teams now work successfully in the cloud, the model of having everyone work from the office has changed. Corporate tax executives must adapt to allow their teams to work from home or find themselves without the staff they need to get the work done.
We are gathering information daily on the challenges corporate tax executives are facing in hiring tax professionals. It is a tight market for hiring tax staff for your corporate tax departments. Changes are occurring everywhere. If your recruiters are unable to find you tax staff today it is for several reasons including: tax staff enjoy flexibility provided in public accounting firms; compliance has been done offshore for lower costs and increased training of staff offshore; many of the people laid off at lower tax levels during the pandemic were on Visas; baby boomer tax executives have a different mindset and work ethic than millennials; and there is not enough talent at the lower levels to meet the market demand. Companies are scrambling to find trained tax staff today. Corporate tax executives are under constant stress to get the work done and are challenged to find tax staff.
In my next post about hiring trends, I will share with you the many positive changes in the market we have encountered that will help you attract and retain a productive tax team.