PA Consulting’s people and talent expert, Claire Logan, discusses why finance chiefs must prioritise talent retention as the economy starts to rebound.
While it may not feature in finance directors’ job descriptions, they are becoming more involved in human-resources management thanks to the shift to remote working, new investor concerns and pressure to innovate.
Claire says: “The CFO has always had a responsibility for people. But it’s always been in terms of the cost of the workforce or managing them as asset, rather than understanding how to deploy them in a way that delivers innovation or creativity.”
This, Claire adds, is essential so that companies can build their capacity for innovation internally rather than through acquisitions.
Overall productivity remains a key concern for the chief financial officer, however. The good news is that the move to remote working appears not to have damped productivity in many companies.
Claire continues: “The CFO needs to think about how to retain talent as the economy starts to pick up, or as individuals who have had a moment of revelation during the pandemic want to do something meaningful.
“It’s making [employees] think differently about selling their soul to an organisation that doesn’t have the right purpose.”
It is crucial that finance chiefs make the human capital investments that will support companies’ ability to generate value in the long term, which depends on innovation. “Investing in people is a link to retention but it’s also a link to the innovation that organisations need to move forward,” Claire adds.
Meanwhile, companies have had to recreate an office environment in their employees’ homes, which means investing in equipment, software and high-speed connectivity. Claire says: “It’s a few hundred dollars to replicate a workforce environment at home and it’s worth every penny.”
This, Claire adds, is because high-potential employees now want more flexible working arrangements. “You have no choice but to say yes,” Claire says. “You want them engaged, productive and in the four walls of the company — even if they’re virtual walls.”