How to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Blake Friis | Tuesday, Feb 28th 2023
How to Attract and Retain Top Talent

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a report that found that accounting has an employee churn rate 10 times higher than the average when compared to other industries. This is as the economy continues to teeter on the brink of a potential recession. Add that to the fact that current market conditions are strongly favorable to job seekers, and it becomes clear that developing strategies to retain your top talent is more important than ever.  

To understand what that looks like in accounts payable, it helps to know what prospective AP employees are looking for when applying for a position. One of the most common questions asked of employers is, “What’s in your tech stack?” Workers want to know what kind of technology they’ll be working with and how it will help them meet and exceed their professional goals. 

Will I Be Stuck Doing Drone Work? 

When a prospective employee asks, “What’s in your tech stack?” one of the questions they’re implicitly asking is whether they’ll be wasting time every day doing repetitive, low-value tasks.   

The typical AP representative spends as much as 25% of their week on manual tasks 

What sort of tasks does this include? One of the chief culprits is data entry. In accounts payable, this can involve entry information such as the invoice number, supplier name, line items, costs, and total invoice amount. It’s slow, tedious, and error-prone, the latter of which results in corrections that are even more time-consuming. When we look at low-value vs. high-value tasks, data entry is a textbook example of work that provides minimum value. 

High-value tasks can be identified as those which are: 
  • Productive – creating new value 

  • Durable – creating value over time 

  • Inclusive – because it creates value that can be shared between employees, customers, and beyond 

  • Meaningful – because it serves a greater purpose, either on a personal or corporate level, or ideally both 

Another low-value task that frequently consumes AP employees’ time is hunting down approvals. A 2020 survey by Quadient AP found that accounts payable workers spent 20% of their week trying to track down approvals. While relying on manual processes or discrete systems that do not integrate, it’s easy to see how approvals can get lost or delayed. They can wind up sitting on a desk, or in an inbox, and get lost in the shuffle. This becomes even more pronounced when workers are working remotely, or when multiple signoffs are required for an invoice (such as a high-dollar purchase).   

Adopting a smart AP solution allows these tasks to be automated and makes use of cutting-edge technology to accomplish these routine tasks quickly and accurately. Software like Quadient AP makes use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to capture and input invoice data, resulting in an 83% reduction in data entry work.  

The software also offers customizable approval workflows. When an invoice is received, it is routed to the appropriate employee or employees for approval. Regular reminders are then sent on a set schedule until the invoice has been approved. With the software handling these routine operations, AP employees are freed up to focus on activities that not only bring greater value to the company but are also more personally rewarding. 

What Sort of High-Value Activities Will I Perform? 

Another implied question when a prospective employee asks, “What’s in your tech stack?” is “What are the high-value activities that I’ll be performing?” While it’s obviously important to reduce mundane and repetitive tasks, it’s even more important to replace them with responsibilities that not only advance the company’s goals but help employees fulfill their personal career ambitions as well. 

For accounts payable employees this could mean strategically planning when invoices are settled to take advantage of things like early payment incentives while holding onto the company’s money long enough to optimize cash flow. It could also involve looking into vendor relationships to ensure that the company is getting the best terms and that all aspects of vendor agreements are being followed. These tasks can not only save the company money but can transform the payables process into a potential revenue generator, instead of just an outflow of capital.  

These types of activities are not only more fulfilling on an individual, and professional level, but elevate the role of AP in the eyes of the C-suite, transforming payables from a function-based position into a strategic partner in the organization’s overall financial plan. That’s the sort of promise and potential that will not only attract top talent to a position but keep them in your organization for the long-term.  

To learn more about how AP automation improves your AP process and provides opportunities for high-value activities, attend our upcoming webinar “Streamlining Your Accounts Payable with Automation Tools.”