3 ways CFOs can address finance staff retention and hiring issues in a competitive market

Blog | June 27, 2023

3 min
3 ways CFOs can address finance staff retention graphic with a checklist and a person icon with a magnifying glass over it

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years, you’ve undoubtedly read more than one story about how employees are demanding increased flexibility, a positive environment, and work that is both professionally satisfying and meaningful.

While companies are no longer seeing departures en masse like in the days of the Great Resignation, the labor market is still really tight. According to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 80% of HR professionals are concerned about labor shortages, with retention also becoming a bigger challenge. This is particularly acute in the high-pressure, in-demand world of finance.

As a result, successful recruitment today looks different than it did even five years ago. It’s not about the compensation and benefits anymore (well, it’s not only about these things). To attract the best candidates and, let’s face it, adapt to the ever-emerging presence of Gen Z in the workforce, companies need to take a good, hard look at how “the future of work” fits into their business models.

3 ways CFOs can address finance staff retention tips graphic

Finance staff retention tip 1: Enable flexible work with technology

While some companies have more recently mandated that their employees return to the office, the demand for remote work among employees is still strong. A survey by Deloitte found that 75% of Gen Z and 76% of millennials would prefer either hybrid or remote work.

But offering remote work alone isn’t enough. SHRM found that remote/hybrid workers are more likely than their on-site counterparts 1 to be looking for new jobs. What gives?

In the frantic transition to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of companies were neither thoughtful nor strategic about remote work. Collaboration was disjointed, and companies were not prepared with internal tools to facilitate effortless remote work. And by “effortless,” we mean work that can be done as easily from home as from the office.

Companies have now had a few years to adapt, but many haven’t. There simply hasn’t been enough focus on the tools that can enable remote work. It’s a patchwork of disparate tools for both the job's essential functions and collaborative work.

No surprise, then, that digital natives aren’t interested in companies that struggle with technology. It makes remote work a challenge — and plenty of employers put technology at the forefront.

Finance staff retention tip 2: Automate the busywork

While the lack of effective tools would certainly make any millennial or Gen Z employee roll their eyes, the work done within the tools can be an additional source of frustration.

No one likes mundane or repetitive tasks. Even within digital tools, this can still be the case. In the AR world? Think: manually posting payments to customer accounts because systems are not connected, or sending out dozens (if not hundreds) of emails about past due accounts.

Microsoft surveyed 2 4,500 people, from employees to decision-makers, and found that nine in 10 want daily tasks to be automated so they can focus on work that matters.

Understandably so. The employee experience is improved when mundane tasks are automated. And it would be hard to argue that automation doesn’t benefit the company in other ways, like having work done more quickly or a better customer experience.

Finance staff retention tip 3: Make digital transformation a collaborative experience

In the same Microsoft survey, 85% of respondents agreed that people across all departments need to be involved in any digital transformation, yet only about half are among the decision-makers for those efforts.

Too often, choosing a company-wide tool falls in the lap of the IT department, with little input from the people who will be using it day in and day out. The result? A tool that might not meet all the users’ pain points. And definitely one that might fall short of “best tool for the job.”

What better way to show commitment to technology — and your employees — than by involving them in the process? Get buy-in from stakeholders across multiple departments, and not just managers. Find the technology “cheerleaders” who can take a new product, really embrace it, and influence others with their enthusiasm. It’ll move the company forward and make employees feel invested in the technology’s success.