How Finance Leaders Can Support Their Best People — And Hire More of Them
by Scott K. Schmidt, Chief Financial Officer, U.S. Money Reserve
The great resignation has had a significant impact on businesses’ ability to retain great talent. Here’s what you need to know.
In the current economic climate, it has become more difficult and even more pressing for business leaders to support, retain, inspire, and hire great talent. As the economy continues to falter, workers continue to demand hybrid work environments and businesses to push back on those needs. As we all realign around what matters the most to us following the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s vital that business leaders take stock of their most valuable employees and find the best ways to retain them. Here’s what you need to know to support your best people and hire more of them as we all face a tenuous economic picture.
The Current Employment Picture
“Quiet quitting,” “the great resignation,” “the great realignment”: No matter what name we give the trend, it’s important to acknowledge that there’s a significant shift going on in the workforce, and it’s a direct result of the coronavirus. We’ve discussed how the pandemic has changed how employees think about and approach work. We’ve also talked extensively about how to meet your employees where they are and make sure you provide them with the right tools to succeed. Beyond that, it’s vital to understand that this shift is not just some flash in the pan trend that will go away as the pandemic fades. These profound structural and institutional changes will continue to shape the future of work, and it’s vital for finance leaders get on board and understand these shifts and what they mean for the workforce.
First, let’s dig into some of the data. Korn Ferry recently reported that by 2030, there will be a global workforce shortage of more than 85 million people. That’s less than 10 years away. This means leaders, companies, and governments will have to work extra hard to retain the talent they want and find new talent to supply their growth plans. Employees are also more likely to quit if a company doesn’t meet their work needs (for example, having hybrid and remote options) or if its vision, mission, and activities don’t align with the individual’s own mores, behaviors, and feelings. You don’t have to take my word for it — let’s look at the research.
McKinsey recently reported that both consumers and employees have high expectations of companies. They increasingly choose to engage only with companies that prioritize people, sustainability, climate change, and other hot-button issues. For clarity, by “engage,” I mean shop at, work for, or even follow on social media. If your company does not align with your employees’ and customers’ values, you risk a lot, including the future of your business.
Second, and even more important, if you don’t meet your employees where and when they want to work, you risk losing some of the best and brightest talent you have. Again, let’s look at some data from June of this year released by McKinsey. According to that study, job seekers value having autonomy over where and how they work, and if they don’t get those options with their current company, they’re much more likely to hunt for a new job. That’s a tremendous insight for company leaders because it proves that if you want to retain your top talent, you must consider how best to meet them where and when they want to work.
Finally, let’s add one more statistic to paint a more complete image of the current employment situation. According to a study released in February of this year, companies face a tremendous talent shortage: 75% of companies that participated reported a lack of talent. That percentage represents a 16-year high. The report also notes that large companies with 250 or more employees are struggling most to retain talent.
In light of all this data, what should a company leader do? With the ongoing changes in employee and prospective employee demands, an increasingly fraught economic picture thanks to rising inflation, and the threat of a global recession on the horizon, now is a pivotal time for business leaders to focus on what they can do to support their best people and find ways to hire more great employees. Here are my tips.
How to Support Your Stellar Workforce
Only some people on your staff are standout employees. Some have more skills, particularly valuable soft skills, than others. How do you support your best people in this new and changing world of work?
First, take the data above to heart. Any corporation that is able to should offer remote and hybrid work environments to help meet employees where they want to be met. If that means getting rid of office space or downsizing the physical office in some way, so be it. You can free up capital and channel it toward technology that helps support a more hybrid and remote workforce. Rather than mourning the loss or reduction of physical office space, it’s time to reframe what “the office” looks like. This is the opportunity to make significant changes in your approach to business. Why not take advantage of it now?
Second, consider the importance of mental health and well-being support for all workers. That doesn’t mean free lunch, free dry cleaning, or an on-premise gym. In fact, those amenities have gone out with the rise of remote and hybrid work. No one is in the office anymore (or else a minimal number of people are), and these offerings are largely a waste of company assets. Instead, consider better ways to support your new and evolving workforce. Perhaps your company can offer discounts for gyms or online exercise programs that people can choose from. Maybe it means the company offers mental health support through platforms like Talkspace or BetterHelp or provides more support for working parents through daycare discounts or other support systems. Whatever you decide to reinvest your money in, make sure it meets the needs of your employees.
While these are great tips for every business, when it comes to the financial sector, I have a few more focused tips that can help support your staff. For example, investing in the right technology makes their work easier, whether they’re in the office or working remotely. Tech pain points are one of the biggest frustrations most employees have. Don’t believe me? A recent report by Fluence shows that 88% of survey respondents rate updated finance tech as important or very important.
Additionally, financial leaders need to take a good, hard look at how company values translate to the employees who work in the space. How can you better align their day-to-day tasks and skills with the company’s overall mission, vision, and goals? One way to make this shift is to walk the walk. If your company aims to make the world a better place, allow employees to show how their work in finance is actually doing that.
How to Find New Employees
Even if you create an incredible hybrid and remote workplace, offering plenty of perks, competitive salaries, and opportunities for growth for your best employees, you will still have some attrition. People are going to leave or move to other jobs. That’s just the reality of doing business today. But when you read the data I mentioned above that shows companies are facing a tremendous talent gap, and the situation is going to worsen by 2030, what can you do to find new employees?
Since you should’ve already worked to figure out how best to align your company’s mission with the individuals doing the work (in the previous step), and you’ve done your best to offer functional work policies for both your employees and your business, you’re well ahead of the pack. But it’s still vital to recognize that we are in a talent-driven environment — and that means you’ll have to work hard to find, recruit, and hire the right talent. Where do you start?
First, it’s essential that during the hiring process, you and your recruitment team focus on culture fit above technical skills. So you’ll need to take a good hard, look at prospective hires’ soft skills and prioritize those over hard skills that can be taught on the job.
Additionally, it’s important to think about and perhaps reframe how you measure productivity. The world of work has changed, and as the pandemic has proven, there’s a fine line between burnout and maximum productivity. If you prioritize your employees’ mental health and well-being, and you’ve reconfigured and reconsidered how you measure productivity, you’re likely to keep great employees.
It’s also important to think outside the traditional employee box. Sure, those in finance should have an understanding of the essential tools and skills that might be needed to succeed — but it’s important to expand your scope to look at unconventional work skills and backgrounds. As I mentioned above, it’s always feasible to train new employees on various systems as long as they have an understanding of the finance fundamentals you need. So targeting your search to other atypical industries might do you some good and lead great talent to your doorstep.
The Bottom Line on How Finance Leaders Can Support Their Best People and Hire More of Them
No question: The world of work has changed, and it’s high time finance leaders think about how best to navigate the new world. That means realigning out-of-date infrastructure and tech, thinking about how best to meet the demands of a hybrid and remote work environment, and looking for talent in unexpected places. Numerous changes continue to rock the finance world, but as long as business leaders are open to those shifts and aware of how the landscape continues to evolve, companies will continue to thrive.