The finance workforce is transforming. Here is where to focus to keep pace.

Sep 21, 2020

by Helena Clennell Partner

Email +44 (0)7903 818545

The effects of the pandemic have made two things very clear for the savvy CFO. First, that finance transformation has been supercharged, regardless of industry. Second, that it is the workforce above everything else that will enable organisations to achieve their objectives.

As leading finance functions actively look to build on this change in momentum, CFOs need to develop a workforce strategy aligned to their business strategy. Scenario planning is the starting point. Each business will have their own unique blend of strategy, trends, ‘shock events’ and operating model changes to account for. But these are the four lenses to focus on in order to keep you on track:

Workforce planning and talent

Leading finance functions haven’t just invested in technology as part of their reorganisation, they’ve also invested in skills. This includes augmenting existing technical skills portfolios with advanced analytical skills, strategic thinking and problem solving. But don’t overlook the importance of softer skills such as influencing, storytelling and relationship building. Start by publishing career pathways to show employees how to grow, and sponsoring games, competitions and performances as a fun way to encourage participation in driving change. The outcome? A workforce prepared to adapt to new ways of working, and increased retention of your top talent.

Organisation and role design

Automation and self service provide a great opportunity to descale and streamline your organisation. Begin by identifying your core and non-core processes. In non-core areas, third parties may be the best choice for automation thanks to their ability to draw on their scale and experience with bots and digitals assistants.

An effective transformation needs Finance Business Partners to be skilled in influencing, leading change and storytelling. These business partners are supported by growing centers of expertise/ excellence with greater scope and specialist skills to provide data-driven insights & analysis.

Finally, in addition to changing existing roles, new ones are being created. These include predictive risk leads in the corporate centre, analytics & data science managers in centres of expertise/ excellence and virtual workforce managers who schedule bots in operational finance. To get ahead of the game, start assessing your roles and responsibilities now.

Workforce Performance and Experience

Trust and a focus on people inspires commitment which maximises the finance function’s potential. Understanding which behaviours accelerate your planned changes - and which hold them back - can help you achieve lasting change with less effort, time, and expense. You can get started today by understanding your current cultural traits and behaviours. Identify those that are critical to drive your priorities and outcomes. Next, review your performance management and employee incentive plans and their alignment with the behaviors. Celebrate the team’s success and ensure all employees understand the vision and how their role fits into this.

Workplace Experience

The Work From Anywhere model emerging from COVID-19 has highlighted opportunities for flexibility as well as the highest priorities for interaction. The PwC global CEO survey showed some 93% of UK CEOs (92% globally) prioritised protecting employee health and safety over everything else. So be targeted in the way your workplace setup encourages both teaming/collaboration and flexibility in remote work. This will demand a level of experimentation, perhaps starting small in parts of the finance function before scaling up to programmes. Be sure to make the concept of experimentation and piloting feel normal while adapting to the future of work. For example a starting point may be ‘where can I get a critical few people to do something different to improve performance and wellbeing right now given virtual working?’ Build your future around your people, taking inspiration from those who already challenge the status quo.

As with any other transformation, ensuring ROI is critical; both from a cost perspective, but also the value and impact of investment in the finance workforce on business outcomes. Sharing success will increase buy-in from the leadership and engagement within the workforce. Those organisations that are leading the way have extended far beyond traditional people measures. They are looking at the influence on culture and ways of working, retention and well being, external stakeholders and strategic financial goals.

by Helena Clennell Partner

Email +44 (0)7903 818545