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Attracting and Retaining Talent: CFOs’ #1 Concern

June 27, 2017
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Last week, our friends at Financial Executives International (FEI) recommended we catch a particular story in the Wall Street Journal that would resonate strongly with financial leaders. An interview with Dr. John Graham of Duke University revealed some surprising information in the quarterly study of CFO’s that they’ve been conducting for decades. As Dr. Graham put it, “The No. 1 concern this quarter is hiring and retaining qualified employees. We’ve been doing the surveys 21 years, 85 quarters now. That’s the first time that’s been the No. 1 concern.”Staffing has always been of huge importance to all of us and as the 2017 annual Centage Corporation Survey pointed out, staffing registered as one of the top Finance priorities for 2017 and is among the top 5 Concerns, Challenges, and Opportunities for finance functions. Considering political and economic changes, the uncertainty of how Brexit and policy changes in the U.S. will play out, cyber security, raising capital, and all the other complexities we face, having the number one issue focus on the hiring and retention of qualified employees is a big deal.Dr. Graham’s interview continued with him speaking to the issue of the labor market getting tighter and the mismatch between the skills needed in today’s finance office and the people that are available and seeking employment. It’s tough to keep up but as challenging as they are, there are actions we can take to continue to stay on top of the labor market.

Flex, Engage, and Learn

Flexibility is a top incentive that employees want.  Flexibility in work location, as I talked about in my recent post, Going Green While Staying Lean, can allow us to reach out to accounting and advising professionals outside of our geographic area and give us a larger talent pool to pull from. Time flexibility is another piece. Varied work schedules and an easing of tight clock-punching management can help both current and future employees manage their lives and commitments much better without the pressure to follow strictly set guidelines.Employee engagement. Making sure employee contributions are both recognized and responded to are also valuable benefits that should be a part of every manager’s skill set. Quick internet searches and talking with your peers can lead to identifying several cost-conservative ways to increase engagement without having substantial impacts on your budgets.Increasing the skill sets of your employees will aid them individually with professional development, while preparing your organization for the addressing the challenges of increased automation and the need for additional critical analysis skill. Be open with your team about your company’s need to continually evolve as cloud and other advancements offer opportunities to streamline functions. Support employees that are interested by offering opportunities to learn about new software, dashboard development, and FP&A responsibilities.Going ForwardThe responsibilities and future of financial professionals today is very different from even a decade ago. Despite our reputations as bean counters, we have the capacity to be creative. Addressing our staffing concerns by making incremental adjustments to our work styles will continually move us forward. Simple initiatives, such as offering lunch and learn sessions where you watch live or recorded webinars together, can provide a relaxed forum that encourage communications and potentially can lead to you hitting on products or processes that can make all the difference in the future.

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