Why the CFO and HR should be BFFs in talent management
If finance and HR are viewed as completely separate, the two departments will always seem at odds, experts said.
To attract and retain talent, HR is looking for any tool it can use to get ahead — but one place it might not be looking is within its own C-suite. A collaboration with finance promises to help HR do more than hire and retain workers; the partnership can assure employees are happy and productive on the job.
"For me, it's about changing the mentality," Eric Hansen, CFO/COO at RedPeg, told HR Dive in an email. "You don't treat employees as an expense that negatively affects the bottom line, but instead you look for ways to invest in the staff (professional development, culture initiatives, company growth opportunities, etc.), so we can all grow together."
Robert Half data shows financial leaders were more likely to expand their reach into HR than any other department in 2018. "In the current competitive hiring market, it's more important than ever for finance and talent management to work together to understand how employees' workplace experiences affect the business's bottom line," Tim Hird, executive director, Robert Half Management Resources, told HR Dive.
Teams can collaborate on organizational culture, compliance, hiring and retention, all with the goal of developing a great employee experience, Hird added. Close collaboration between finance and talent leaders shows executives are in sync with each other and ensures consistent messaging from the top of the organization.
"The whole point is that our goals are married," Pearlie Oni, senior manager of employee experience at RedPeg, told HR Dive in an email. "You have to stop looking at Finance and HR as separate. If you don't, they'll always seem like they're battling." Each brings perspective and insight to the table; together, they can leverage their combined strength to everyone's advantage.
Collaborating for talent allocation
New labor models can help stretched-thin teams meet their goals, and an HR and CFO collaboration can help. Working together, they can plan for a mix of full-time, part-time, consultants and contract workers. They can also align to find automated solutions for some of the rote tasks that drag down productivity.
"As finance functions have embraced this model," Hird said, "they can collaborate with talent management to determine the best approach for each situation."
Holistic wellness from a finance POV
Erik Fromm, financial advisor at Janney Montgomery Scott, told HR Dive that analytics have helped HR and finance work cohesively on employee health, wellness and happiness; "We now have hard data that shows the impact that the reduction of financial and health related stress can have on productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism, current health care costs, disability claims, safety statistics, job satisfaction and retention, among a myriad of other short-term benefits," he said. Armed with data, HR and finance can boost programming that benefits employees and the business.
Retirement readiness is another huge issue that impacts both departments. Delayed retirements cost employers higher wages and healthcare costs. But moving on retirement-ready staff can be challenging if they're not financially able to make the switch. On the opposite side, early retirements could pose a significant brain drain on the organization. Working together, HR and the CFO can plan for all contingencies and help staff make the transition smoothly.
"If you get a handle on this dynamic and have a more predictable talent turnover you could press forward into even more productive conversations such as more effective and creative knowledge transfer between the company's top intellectual capital and the next generation of leaders," Fromm said in an email.
Collaborating on culture
When it comes to culture, HR has the pulse of the organization, but finance promotes the underlying messaging: What is our mission, and how are individual employees contributing to our success? Finance can help drive the employee value proposition by supporting career pathway development and training. When asked how they were involved in shaping culture, 78% of CFOs in a Robert Half survey revealed they collaborate with other execs to define the company's desired culture.
Hansen said that employee inclusion initiatives are some of the greatest ways his company's departments merge. They've invested in feedback tools that provide staff with a "seat at the table" when deciding/adjusting company culture, programs and processes. "It goes back to investing in employees," he said.
Analytics that both teams rely on
While both teams rely on analytics, sharing that information and seeing where there's crossover and opportunity to collaborate can help everyone reach their goals. Rather than HR requesting funding haphazardly, collaborating for the optimal use of resources gives finance insight into HR's needs and vice versa. Sharing this information across divisions allows teams to leverage insight into almost every area of HR.
"All departments share the same ultimate goal: help the company succeed," Hird said. After all, when a company can collaborate across departments, businesses can better accomplish goals.
"I've never worked for a successful company where the CFO and HR didn't work well together," Hansen said. "It's hard to know what it would be like without that insight."
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