Omar Choucair, Chief Financial Officer of Trintech, has led financial and administrative organizations in public and private companies for over 20 years.
By now, you’ve probably heard about (and maybe even dealt with) big resignations, as many baby boomers retire early, millennials and Gen Z looking for jobs with more flexibility and competitive pay packages.
The finance and accounting (F&A) department has definitely been affected. In fact, the staff shortage comes at a time when the demand for good talent in the F&A field is steadily increasing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for accountants is expected to grow by 7% from 2020 to 2030.
These hiring challenges are reflected in cautious growth expectations across all business verticals, as companies assess their resource constraints, carefully identify projects to pursue, and then prioritize the most critical of these initiatives.
Faced with these headwinds, how can companies retain and acquire the talent they need in a growing F&A sector? Technology and employee engagement are key drivers of these initiatives.
Filling the workforce gap with technology
In 2022, I expect automation to play an increasingly important role in helping to fill the void created by the war for talent. Based on the ROI calculators we asked clients of financial closing software companies to fill out, we found that many companies could significantly reduce the number of employees required by implementing software automation.
As competition for skilled workers continues to heat up, increasing compensation packages and benefits can only meet the workforce support needs of many companies. Combining aggressive talent acquisition and retention programs with critical and strategic investments in technology can help ensure support levels now and into the future. In fact, technology investments can also reduce the risk of potential fluctuations in a company’s future workforce availability.
Financial closure automation technology also plays a central role in preserving institutional knowledge, which is critical for the smooth and efficient transfer of knowledge when employees leave or retire. In this way, technology plays a role not only in reducing risk, but also in supporting succession planning and efficient onboarding.
The strategic case for high-value work
In addition to filling critical hiring gaps, leveraging automation can help existing team members and new hires focus on higher-value work. This enables employees to upgrade their skills, engage in more value-added activities, and support strategic goals in a more meaningful way.
Getting employees to shift their focus from manual, low-value, repetitive tasks to more challenging and strategic responsibilities can help them gain greater satisfaction from their jobs. In turn, employee satisfaction not only supports the creation of more valuable outputs, but is a key factor in reducing customer churn.
Emphasize employee engagement
While working from home or a hybrid model appeals to employees who enjoy greater flexibility, many workers say they feel less connected to their employers. Companies will need to do more to foster a sense of belonging among employees who may not meet regularly.
Since so many things can be done virtually, we need to make sure that the time spent together in person is worthwhile. For example, our leadership team has spent some time together at headquarters over the past few months, and we’ve used that time more effectively and thoughtfully than we have in the past. Likewise, we need to ensure that employees are truly flexible when working from home, allowing them to focus their time on work, as well as the ability to meet their personal life needs.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has been a recruiting focus for many companies, especially over the past few years. Executives are rethinking their workforces and developing strategies to support attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. But to bring about effective change, DEI cannot be viewed as an isolated initiative handled by your HR department. One way our company does this is through our Culture Council, which brings together leaders across the organization to ensure we are focused on inclusivity.
Attracting and retaining great talent, even during big resignations—must be thoughtful, prioritized, and consistently supported by investing in resources that support employees in the ways that matter most.
The Forbes Finance Council is an invitation-only organization for executives of successful accounting, financial planning and wealth management firms. Am I eligible?