Five Ways to Retain and Develop Finance Staff with Growth Opportunities
To meet goals and deliver on growth initiatives, finance departments are relied upon to pay suppliers and staff, generate regular reports, and fulfill regulatory and compliance responsibilities.
A more recent trend, due to the adoption of the cloud and advancements in automation-powered technology, is for the finance function to look forward and use the output of real-time data to provide strategic input into the future direction of their companies.
With an added reliance on automated processes and workflows, it’s critical to make team members feel valued and needed while developing and enriching their skills. Failure to do so can result in them seeking new opportunities elsewhere. And the added risk of often needing to find on-demand replacements can come with a premium price tag.
With IOFM’s Finance & Accounting Appreciation Week coming up on September 25-29, 2023, now is the best time to show your finance talent how integral and important they are to the organization.
Here are our top tips to help future-proof your finance team members’ careers so they feel valued and stay with the company long-term:
1. Adopt New Technologies
It’s unlikely any of your team members sought out a career in finance only to complete manual and repetitive tasks on a daily basis. Using technology—like finance automation—to move away from these workflows will lead to higher productivity levels and allow staff to focus on more exciting and engaging work.
At a minimum, CFOs should incorporate cloud-based ERP solutions, like Oracle NetSuite or Microsoft Dynamics, that automate key workflows, such as bookkeeping, bank reconciliations, and payroll.
Most ERP vendors also have app marketplaces that connect to third-party solutions to enable data to flow seamlessly, powering automation even further.
2. Enable and Encourage Business Partnering Opportunities
For too long, finance has been a siloed function, separate from the rest of the business, with many viewing the team’s purpose as simply to process transactions.
However, new technologies are making it possible to generate real-time data and connect with applications that are in use with other departments, such as CRM and MarTech solutions. Now, finance can work more collaboratively across the entire organization.
These newfound collaborations can cover a range of activities, like budgeting and making investment cases. For example, the CMO may need help calculating a digital marketing campaign’s potential return on investment to acquire new customers, or the CEO may want to create a financial model for entering a new international market.
By incorporating business partnering as a key responsibility of the finance function, team members can master soft communication skills and become more confident in engaging with stakeholders across their companies.
3. Encourage Finance to Develop and Strengthen Data Analysis Skills
The ability to mine and interpret data is becoming a vital skill. An increasing amount of what we do is taking place digitally, so companies are capturing unprecedented levels of financial and non-financial data from their customers.
Finance team members should be encouraged to become adept in data analysis to provide insights into how their companies should fine-tune their focus and corporate spend.
Tools like Microsoft BI, Tableau, and Looker collect data from ERP systems and other SAAS vendor categories, including CRM, allow users to visualize data in various formats.
Team members should be taught how to use these tools alongside setting up and measuring KPIs relevant to the current economic environment. Once set up, these KPIs can be presented on a real-time business dashboard, accessible across devices, which employees can use to give informed recommendations.
Developing these skills also helps finance professionals future-proof their careers, as automation-powered technology now takes care of most of the complicated and time-consuming elements of processing everyday transactions.
4. Make Finance Staff a Sounding Board
Conducting weekly team meetings for the finance department and allowing everyone to contribute helps make employees feel like they are heard and make a genuine difference rather than following everyday processes.
This will also benefit finance leaders as good ideas can come from anywhere, including the most junior of employees. For example, business applications with social media-type functionality only became widely adopted once millennials entered the workplace.
Younger individuals entering the workforce, such as Gen-Z, are more likely to question the status quo due to not being ingrained in tried and trusted ways of doing things.
5. Incorporate Learning and Development into Annual Reviews
Making education and career development a key area of annual reviews helps motivate managers and their direct reports to take on more responsibilities and apply a mindset of continuous improvement.
This can be undertaken in a variety of ways:
- Presentations from senior and experienced members of staff
- Enrolling in short courses put on by trade bodies and training providers specifically relevant to finance
- Attending industry conferences and webinars
By future-proofing your finance team members’ careers, you can ensure they feel valued and stay with your company long-term. Remember, investing in your team’s growth and development is critical for the success and well-being of your organization.