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Using workforce disruption to position your company for success
Fri, 25th Feb 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

With the career plans of a large proportion of the workforce uncertain, organisational leaders can prepare to accelerate programs to modernise key functions such as HR and finance.

Globally, pandemic-triggered events such as the Great Resignation have depleted the talent and capability of many organisations, with employees departing en-masse after re-evaluating their priorities and ambitions. How such events will play out in many markets – including Australia and New Zealand – is yet to be determined.

For many businesses, this uncertainty comes at a time when they are looking to transform HR and finance into functions that make more relevant contributions to operational and business success.

For finance, this transition means restructuring existing roles and recruiting people to revitalised teams with strategic business knowledge and expertise in technology, compliance and environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements. If organisations plan effectively, employee turnover – whether en-masse or over time – presents opportunities to accelerate this process.

Suppose an organisation can ready itself with a data platform that provides a single source of truth to execute tasks and make decisions. In that case, it will achieve considerably greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Furthermore, the organisation will reduce reliance on operational data management hires and instead focus on hiring talent experienced in analysing the organisational impact of non-financial business priorities such as ESG and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Workday's recent Global CFO Survey shows most Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) understand the importance of data to the finance function. 50% of survey respondents had made the most progress in ‘closing the data gap' over the last 12 months by prioritising intelligent data foundations and advanced analytics.

Meanwhile, an even larger share, 60%, were embracing the opportunity to digitally transform the finance function by reimagining finance operations in the cloud and deploying Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.

The urgency of recruitment and appropriate technical support is matched – particularly during the current acute skills crisis – by the importance of retention. To minimise the risk of unwanted departures of new and existing valued employees, organisations need to double and triple down on culture and help them address challenges to productivity and personal wellbeing.

For example, many employees struggled to manage children at home during the pandemic. In addition, a recent Ernst - Young Empathy in Business Survey revealed that around half of workers in the United States had left jobs in the past because their bosses were not empathetic to their difficulties at work, or home.

By investing in a better working experience and culture, organisations can deliver engaged, productive employees and lower attrition rates that maximise the contribution of the finance function to the broader organisation.

Data drives HR contribution

Data is also key to a more relevant and effective contribution by HR to business success. Adding team members skilled in data analytics means the function can, for example, respond more effectively to wellbeing requirements.

To construct an effective wellbeing program, HR teams need data about employee needs, the effectiveness of the programs and benefits an organisation offers, and how and where these can improve.

New job titles with a specific focus on wellbeing, such as business psychologist, will help human resources teams and organisations understand how to engage effectively with employees and determine what they need to work productively.

A robust data analytics capability is particularly important when managing a workforce under stress, such as frontline workers during a pandemic. By using insights to engage effectively and investing in technology to improve the flexibility of working conditions, organisations can reduce employee burnout and improve retention.  

Onboarding is another area where human resources teams can apply technology to improve performance. Effective onboarding helps businesses manage workforce volatility and transformation agendas while maximising the value employees deliver.

Automated, intelligent onboarding systems can ensure new employees become productive as early as possible and provide a high-quality early experience to recruits still forming impressions of their new employer.      

Recruitment and talent acquisition and retention is part of a bigger mission for chief human resources officers and their teams – building the skills that open the door to greater agility and capability for workers and organisations alike.

When they understand the skills potential within their organisations and enable employees to activate those skills, they can create more options around how, when, and where work is done.

By equipping human resources and finance with the right data, technologies, and people, organisations can revitalise these functions and position themselves to navigate disruption effectively, grow, and succeed.