News and advice on management and the business environment — May 2015

Shonda Rhimes’ new show will star Mireille Enos as a feisty female forensic accountant. Plus, new research shows that support staff frequently overhear confidential conversations at the office.


Accounting, the new “it” profession

Move over, doctors and lawyers — accountants are the new hot protagonists of the small and big screens. In addition to Ben Affleck’s starring role in the forthcoming big-budget action flick The Accountant, which we told you about last year, ABC television has now commissioned a pilot for next season that centres on a feisty female forensic accountant who exposes fraud for a living. Produced by Shonda Rhimes, creator of the popular TV shows Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, the new drama called The Catch will star Mireille Enos, best known for her award-winning role on the AMC show The Killing. Be forewarned: with these edgy portrayals of the profession — Affleck’s character doubles as an assassin and Enos’ crime-fighting heroine is “not all she appears to be” — you may soon find yourself commanding extra respect at the watercooler.


Empowering employees is a win-win

People in workplace

About one-third of financial executives admit their productivity would increase if they gave staff more control over how and when they do their jobs, a US survey for Robert Half Management Resources finds. Of the more than 2,100 CFOs polled, 32% said offering employees greater autonomy — such as flexible work hours, working remotely or less direct supervision — would improve their own performance. Only 13% feared their productivity would decline if they quit micromanaging. “Letting go as a manager isn’t easy,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half. “But giving employees greater autonomy offers leaders the gift of time, which they can devote to strategic planning and other critical initiatives.”


So much for confidential convos

Your company’s support staff may know more about you than you think. According to a US survey for recruiting firm CareerBuilder, 53% of support staff — including custodians, mail-room attendants, security guards, receptionists, maintenance workers and administrative assistants — have overheard private discourses at work and 11% gained knowledge that can get an executive or coworker fired. Among the most popular hush-hush topics revealed were complaints about the boss or others (62%), layoffs or firings (35%), someone’s compensation (22%) and romantic relationships between employees (20%). One in 10 support staff workers (10%) have also found items that could get an individual or the company in trouble, such as a list of salaries, an upcoming reorganization diagram and even a letter from the boss’s mistress.


Millennials want to make an impact, not money

Compensation is one of the least important factors for recruiting young professionals, a survey by executive search firm Futurestep finds. When asked what matters most to millennial employees (those born after 1980), 23% of executives cited the ability to make an impact on the business, followed by a clear path for advancement (20%) and development and ongoing feedback (16%). Income ranked fourth with just 13% of the response. Similarly, only 18% said job title and pay would sway a millennial to choose one gig over another, while more than twice as many (38%) said visibility and buy-in to the company’s mission or vision would be a motivating factor.