Academic journal article The Journal of New Business Ideas & Trends

Recruitment and Retention: Could Emotional Intelligence Be the Answer

Academic journal article The Journal of New Business Ideas & Trends

Recruitment and Retention: Could Emotional Intelligence Be the Answer

Article excerpt


Purpose - The purpose of this study is to investigate the inability of accounting firms to retain adequate numbers of accountants by examining the relationship between emotional intelligence (El) and job satisfaction among public accounting professionals.

Design/methodology/approach - The research Participants completed two self-report survey instruments: the Bar-On short version of the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i:S) to measure total emotional intelligence (El), and the Job In General (JIG) to measure job satisfaction.

Findings - The results indicate that leaders of public accounting firms might consider using emotional intelligence and the EQ-i:S as a tool in the recruitment and selection process of accounting professionals to address the problem of accounting firms retaining adequate number of accounting professionals to meet current and future demand. Further study is recommended for examining the relationship between El, a relatively new construct, and job satisfaction more thoroughly to provide a better understanding of the relationship.

Keywords: Accounting recruitment: emotional intelligence: job satisfaction

JEL Classifications: J28

PsycINFO Classifications: 3650

FoR Codes: 1501

ERA Journal ID #: 40840


Since the 1970s, organizations in the United States have struggled to recruit and retain employees within the accounting profession. The recruiting problem, specifically the challenge to fill the demand for accountants and auditors, continues to worsen (AICPA, 2013; Bloom & Myring, 2008; Bureau of Labour Statistics, 2012; Jinkens & Camillo, 2011). Projections indicate that the demand for accountants is likely to increase by 16% between 2010 and 2020 (AICPA, 2013; Jinkins, & Camillo, 2011). Business leaders expect the demand for accountants and auditors to increase due to the International Financial Reporting Standards and corporate compliance initiatives, such as and the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 (Sarbanes-Oxley Act). The number of new accountants needed may be higher than projected unless current rates of accountant turnover are curtailed. The turnover at large firms was 17% in 2004 and 9% at smaller firms (Steadman, 2008), and higher in public accounting than in other fields (Moyes, Shao, & Newsome, 2008).

Turnover at public accounting firms has created a staffing crisis (Steadman, 2008). The staffing crisis is a significant challenge encountered within the accounting profession between 2002 and 2012 and will continue to be an area of concern.

The number one problem for CPA firms surveyed between 2001 and 2006 was staffing concerns, including recruitment and retention, according to the AICPA report, Management of an Accounting Practice. The staffing crisis will undermine the viability of accounting firms and will pose challenges to the ingenuity, resolve, and creativity of the profession (AICPA, 2008). Addressing the recruitment and retention problems will occur through increased hiring of accounting professionals and organizations satisfying the needs of the employees to retain the most qualified professionals. To address the challenge and ensure the success of accounting firms, leaders need to identify additional methods for retaining accountants to offset some of the demand for new employees in the profession.


The discussion how nontechnical and emotional skills relate to careers of accounting professionals is relatively new. Few research studies have been conducted regarding accountants' emotional skills, also sometimes referred to as interpersonal skills (Akers & Porter, 2003), soft skills (AICPA, 2008), or generic skills. In one study, 20% of the success in a career was attributable to intelligence: the capacity to reason, understand, and learn. The remaining 80% of career success was attributable to the capacity to be aware of oneself and interact with others (Kirch, Tucker, & Kirch, 2001). …

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