CFOs are becoming more focused on employee morale and retention, as well as new employee recruitment. It’s a reflection of the increasingly positive outlook Finance chiefs have on the remainder of this year and into 2021. But that positivity extends to workers, too, who may be seeing greener pastures at companies choosing to expand flexible work options, maintain salary increases, and even provide more automation so Finance can avoid manual tasks and focus on the more strategic and rewarding aspects of their jobs.
Here are a few expert opinions we’ve found helpful in the past week, and we hope you do, too.
What the Experts are Saying on FP&A
Deloitte / WSJ: As Companies Recover, CFOs See Risks Ahead
Dire headline aside, a new survey of CFOs from “some of North America’s largest and most influential companies” found that optimism among Finance chiefs continues to increase. Over 70% expect 2020 revenues to hit at least three-quarters of their pre-pandemic projections. Better still, 37% expect to reach 95% or more of pre-pandemic budgeted revenue and 40% say their cash levels are at least 10% above pre-pandemic levels. Digging deeper, it appears a key strategic move for those weathering the COVID storm has been continuing to invest in their business during the crisis. “(A)ccelerated investments in digitization and heightened focus on achieving better flexibility in capacity and cost structure—can help put their organizations in a better position to navigate the uncertain trajectory of the pandemic.”
The initial shock and uncertainty of the pandemic kept many workers from even considering a new job offer. Now, however, the job market appears to be heating up and those who may have delayed a departure are starting to move. U.S. unemployment is also dropping fast, now at nearly half its April peak of 15%. It has put HR and Finance executives on the defensive to bolster employee retention programs and reconsider salary freezes. “Eighty-eight percent of senior managers…said they are worried about losing high-performing office professionals, up 7% from last year.”
When Google moved all of their 120,000 employees to remote work earlier this year, they immediately focused on the impact to mental health and wellbeing. Those efforts helped to keep workers connected while virtual, but the company is expecting to be back in the office in mid 2021. However the company, like many others, thinks flexibility is what workers now expect. “If you save people commuting time, you have better access to talent, because you’re giving people what they want in their personal life.”
Widespread office shutdowns, and the subsequent and stable productivity of at-home workers, has CFOs rethinking their real estate strategies. For office space, even a relatively small move to remote or flexible work arrangements would have a real impact on demand. But for warehousing and data centers, many companies are looking to increase investments as pandemic concerns keep more people shopping and working from home. “Whatever (real estate) strategy you have today, it might have to look very different in early 2021.”
A recent CFO Research survey of senior financial executives found that employee health and safety continues to remain top of mind. Those concerns were about twice as prevalent as concerns over business strategy, revenue, and costs. Finding and retaining top performers are also key factors as Finance teams push global expansion efforts, with nearly one-third saying talent acquisition was a deciding factor. “(B)iggest benefits from global expansion would be an expanded talent pool, sales advantages, scaling of operations, and productivity increases.”
Financial Executives International: How CFOs are Preparing for the Robot Revolution
The pandemic has pushed nearly every company to accelerate their digital transformation. Progressive CFOs have eliminated 40% or more of their team’s manual processes, according to a recent survey, but nearly three-quarters of finance teams still spend up to 520 hours per year on manual processes just for accounts payable tasks. CFOs who promote automation are finding reductions in risk, better visibility, faster reporting, and even increases in employee morale. “By implementing AI and automation to improve time-consuming manual processes, operations become faster and less labor-intensive and allow finance to significantly impact their organizations.”
The ripple effects of remote work extend to those morning staples of lattes, donuts, and McMuffins. Breakfast sales are down across the board, but Dunkin’, the venerable coffee-and-donut shop, says they’re seeing more mid-day traffic as they suspect workers are looking for a bit of a mental health escape from their daily at-home grind. “People are coming out a little later, maybe they need a break from their Zoom.”
Stay Tuned for More Useful FP&A Content
We’ll be continuing this weekly update with links related to how FP&A and CFO’s are leading their organizations through the continuing recovery. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions, please engage with us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.