Facing a worldwide growing talent shortage that Korn Ferry estimates will reach 85.2 million by the end of the decade, companies aren’t just fighting for the talent they need today, but also struggling to attract and retain the professionals that will one-day serve as their CFOs.
Gen Z is among their top targets, as this digital-first and technologically savvy cohort is aging up and projected to make up one-third of the workforce by 2030. Additionally, a global study from Dell Technologies, The Gen Z Effect, sheds light on what companies need to do to win their employment and earn their loyalty. In short, it points to digital transformation.
According to the report, 91 percent of Gen Z candidates look for tech when selecting a workplace. As digital natives, they expect technology at work and 80 percent aspire to work with cutting-edge tools like artificial intelligence (AI). Companies that haven’t modernized their antiquated tools will struggle to retain and attract these modern masses, including the finance teams they need to transform to compete with more tech-forward companies.
The good news is that the finance department is ripe for transformation. The tools and technologies available today will benefit employees and the organizations they serve by elevating and preparing professionals for leadership roles. Here’s what finance departments can do today to ensure they have what it takes to develop or attract their future CFOs.
Create More Meaningful Work
The finance department is notorious for mundane, repetitive tasks like those around invoice processing and payments, bookkeeping and compliance. The work eats away at time as well as sanity. Equally frustrating about the back office is that it’s inherently inflexible, tying people to computers, file cabinets and printers to do their work.
As more strategic and often hybrid work opportunities entice employees, it’s tough for finance leaders to retain staff, let alone prepare them for leadership positions. According to Deloitte, the talent challenge is the leading internal risk for CFOs and among their top priorities this year.
However, technology can come to their aid by serving as a powerful retention tool. It increases job satisfaction by automating mundane tasks around accounting, reporting, financial planning and analysis (FP&A) processes while streamlining workflows. By automating these tasks, staff becomes free to conduct more meaningful work. They can become empowered to analyze more readily available data and leverage it to better plan, forecast and guide important decision-making for their organizations.
Automated solutions also enhance satisfaction by providing flexibility, including the possibility of supporting remote work operations. By leveraging a cloud environment, the solutions digitize data and enable staff to access it and perform tasks, like invoice approvals and financial reporting, from anywhere at any time.
A Workday CFO Indicator Survey shows that nearly half of CFOs plan to invest in technology like this to retain and attract future finance talent. Ninety-nine percent of those surveyed feel it’s becoming even more important to do so.
Reimagine the Finance Department
Digital transformation drives change in how the finance function is organized, staffed and delivers value to the business. By removing repetitive work, automated finance solutions enable staff to take on greater workloads and often eliminate the need for additional headcount.
With staff empowered to take on more value-added work, the role of the department becomes less transactional and more strategic.
In fact, the Workday report also found that 49 percent of surveyed CFOs cite data management and analysis as top priorities for their departments over the next three years. The department’s shift from scorekeeper to strategist creates opportunities for financial leaders to expand their roles and help guide digital transformation efforts.
A reimagined finance department also requires a more diverse skillset that includes technical expertise and an understanding of data analytics. This expertise is seen by two-thirds of CFOs surveyed as the biggest obstacle to digitalization by investing in automation, training and recruiting more tech-savvy staff with proven expertise and experience; interestingly, 77 percent of Gen Z candidates surveyed by Dell are willing to be technology mentors to others at work.
There’s no shortage of tools available today to begin or enhance the digitization of the finance department. Take for instance, technologies that are transforming invoice and payment processing: application programming interfaces (APIs) convert accounting systems into higher-performing financial management platforms by enabling software-based solutions to talk to each other; machine learning helps analyze data to make predictions and assess and mitigate risks; and three-way matching provides peace of mind by making sure data on purchase orders, invoices and sales receipts are the same.
Together, these technologies can make it faster, more accurate and easier to process invoices and payments so back-office staff can spend their time on strengthening the business.
The war on talent is not abating anytime soon, but finance departments can ensure they have the talent they need for CFO leadership by modernizing with technology. Investments in technology can help make work more enjoyable and meaningful, enticing talent to embrace and benefit from digital transformation while climbing the corporate ladder. At the same time, it will give organizations at-large a competitive edge by arming leaders with insights that lead to greater efficiencies and faster growth.