As CFOs and their teams enter the height of summer, thoughts around the future of finance and accounting continue to whirl. As finance teams have continued to report struggles in recruiting and retaining top talent, employees, especially the good ones, are aware of the job market’s demand for their work. This, combined with workers' demands for technology, autonomy, and a solid work-life balance, has CFOs and their fellow leaders seeking new ways to satisfy and motivate their finance teams.
For those leaders who aspire to be one step ahead, different tools yield different results. From encouraging collaboration to even planting moles within the organization, leadership with an idea of what its teams are thinking about may have a competitive advantage in retaining top talent.
Below are seven things a CFO’s most important tool, his or her people, are thinking about as the third quarter gets underway.
1. AI’s Future Role
Employees within finance teams, just like the rest of us, are interested in artificial intelligence's impact on their work. As Gartner experts advised companies to encourage employees to go from “doers to operators,” CFOs who know how their organizations will embrace AI should keep their finance teams in the loop wherever possible. Transparency in the process will not only boost morale but create a learning environment that can sprout ideas for use cases in places executive leadership is unaware of.
At recent events and in conversations with CFOs, the topic of the desire for many employees to acquire more skills was prevalent. Companies that provide employees with ways to learn and practice new skills can significantly impact how their employees view the company and its leadership.
A company that invests in or provides opportunities for employees to improve their skills can earn more respect and loyalty from their staff than those that do not. Those opportunities can help employees feel their employer sees a long-term future with them. They can also allow organizations to teach effective employees skills that will benefit the company.
3. Work-Life Balance
Employees, especially those with young families, should be encouraged to enjoy the summer. Things like half days, long weekends, or the occasional early end to the day can pay dividends in employee morale and well-being. This time of year, the slackers will probably slack anyway, so it’s a good idea to give those employees who may drain themselves an incentive to recharge.
4. Workplace Culture
Investing in events and other employee initiatives should be done only if they substantially impact workplace morale. Companies need to push for a positive culture that prioritizes a productive work environment over all else. Organizations that consider company culture to be free coffee, foosball tables, and free snacks should reconsider their approach in the second half.
As the events and conferences are seemingly in full bounce-back, allowing employees to travel may be the bolt of energy stagnant teams seek. Getting together in a new city may be a significant expense for some companies, but can stimulate collaboration and teamwork.
Encouraging finance team members to go to events in areas like AI, fintech, and banking may allow them to meet new faces and have interesting conversations, and come back with fresh ideas and perspectives about their work going into the back half of the year.
6. Compliance and Regulatory Updates
Finance teams, much like their CFOs, are aware of the possibility of the rapidly changing regulatory landscape. Finance teams should be encouraged to track regulations in areas like ESG (environmental, social, and governance) and possibly AI. It’s up to leadership to provide the environment and tools necessary for awareness. It can be a great way to avoid headaches down the line if new compliance requirements have to be met relatively quickly.
7. Approach to Spending and Cash Flow
Apart from the entire company, finance teams, in part, need to be aware of the company's short-term spending and cash-flow goals. If the desire by executive management is to limit spending for the rest of the year or manage working capital tightly, finance teams should be aware of that as soon as possible.
That will not only help develop a game plan within finance; it will keep employees feeling included in the decision-making process, something that incentivizes top talent to stick around.