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Family-friendly programs aid employee retention

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The nation's fiscal leaders are evidently seeing sound financial reasons to be sensitive to the needs of working parents, according to a new survey. In the poll, 90 percent of chief financial officers said that issues involving work and family balance are more important today than they were five years ago.

Reflecting this trend, 65 percent indicated that their companies offer flexible hours to their accounting staff.

The survey was developed by RHI Management Resources, a nationwide staffing service placing senior-level accounting and financial professionals on a project basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies with more than 20 employees.

CFOs were asked, "How important is it today for employers to provide flexible hours and other programs that help working parents balance work and family when trying to attract and keep valued accounting employees?"

Their responses:

Very important - 55 percent

Somewhat important - 39 percent

Neither important nor unimportant - 3 percent

Somewhat unimportant - 1 percent

Very unimportant - 1 percent

Don't know/no answer - 1 percent

CFOs were also asked, "Is it more or less important compared to five years ago?" Their responses:

More important - 90 percent

Less important - 3 percent

No change - 4 percent

Don't know/no answer - 3 percent

In a related question, CFOs were asked to identify some of the benefits offered to their accounting staff.

?65 percent said they offer flexible hours

?40 percent offer part-time work

?27 percent offer job sharing

?13 percent have telecommuting options.

"Highly skilled finance and accounting professionals are in great demand across the country," said Cecil Gregg, executive director of RHI Management Resources. "Consequently, financial executives are pursuing an array of benefits that allow staff members to address personal and quality-of-life issues while meeting business demands."

"This is not an entirely altruistic move," Gregg added. "These executives not only recognize the importance of such programs in enhancing recruitment and retention, but also the high costs associated with rehiring and retraining in the event of staff turnover."

The growth of financial consulting as a career is further evidence of the demand for flexibility. "Project-based work is offering an increasing number of accounting and finance professionals the opportunity to achieve a work and family balance," said Gregg.

RHI Management Resources is a business unit of Robert Half International Inc., a worldwide specialized staffing service with more than 225 offices.

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