Voice of the CFO: Engagement Key to Taming ‘Great Resignation’ of Finance Teams

CFO, talent, hiring, inclusion, executive

While chief financial officers (CFOs) have a lot on their plates when it comes to handling technology and data, one of their top challenges has to do with people — helping their companies retain talent. 

That’s a chore for companies across industries in the midst of the Great Resignation, with people leaving the workforce and not enough people joining it to replace them. It’s especially true in the tech industry, where it’s easy for people to move around and work from home, and where companies typically see employee turnover of 20% to 22%. 

“That’s one of the things that we continue to spend a lot of time on,” David Rockvam, CFO at Riskonnect, told PYMNTS, adding that the company has kept its employee churn quite a bit below that industry benchmark. “If you lose somebody and have to replace them, that’s a lot of work on the organization.” 

Riskonnect, a leader in integrated risk management solutions, has 700 employees across the Americas, Europe and Asia serving 1,300 customers worldwide. Rockvam joined the company in May, bringing over 25 years of experience in CFO and other leadership positions. 

“I’m new to the company but I think we’re doing a good job of helping our team members get acclimated with the work from home and building a culture that is very inclusive,” Rockvam said. 

Related: In High Demand, CFOs Offered Larger Roles to Keep Them Onboard

Keeping Employees Engaged 

Speaking as part of the PYMNTS series “A Day in the Life of a Digital-First CFO,” Rockvam said fostering engagement in a work-from-home workforce is tough, but achievable, pointing to Riskonnect metrics that indicate employees are engaged or fully engaged. 

Video conferencing and messaging tools have been valuable in keeping employees connected, Rockvam said. At Riskonnect, every people manager has an assigned weekly, one-on-one meeting with every other member of their team. 

Beyond that, all managers are on a call with the CEO and different team members every two weeks, and there’s a full town hall meeting every month. 

“All those things are really important to keeping your employees engaged,” Rockvam said. “They can be sitting in their homes sitting on [Microsoft] Teams with any company, so we want to keep them here, keep them happy — and those are real important things, we feel, to doing that.” 

Although there have been layoffs in the tech industry, the workers are quickly being taken up elsewhere, Rockvam said. 

Coping With Inflation 

Another challenge seen across industries is inflation, which can add to the difficulty of retaining talent. It used to be that 3% raises would give employees an inflation increase plus a little more — but that’s no longer the case. 

“Now, with inflation running as high as it is, that puts pressure on us as managers, it puts pressure on our ability to hire more people because we’re increasing the amount of what we’re paying and it doesn’t always mean that gets passed to your customer and an increase in the top line as well,” Rockvam said. 

Another task for the CFO is to keep it easy for customers to pay — a task that is especially important in subscription businesses, where customers who encounter friction can just stop the subscription at the end of the term. That cash flow is also important to companies that are growing, and indeed to all companies at a time when costs are rising. 

See also: 40% of Companies Cite Late Payments as Primary Invoicing Headaches

To accomplish this, CFOs must keep on top of the order-to-cash process so that, for example, when an order comes in, there’s automation to get the bill out to the customer quickly and presented in a way that the customer understands it, and it’s tied to their purchase order or contract, Rockvam said. 

“Then it’s about how do you collect that, how do you get the payment in, and we’re just continuing to see that be more and more electronic,” Rockvam said. 

Identifying and Containing Risks 

Given an uncertain macroeconomic environment — including high inflation, rising interest rates and political uncertainty — risk management is becoming more and more important. 

“With a tightening of companies’ belts, with some of this uncertainty, I think our products play in well there to help the companies make sure that they’re able to identify the risks, contain them as much as they can, and keep those expenses and costs down,” Rockvam said. 

There’s also a growing demand for environmental, social and governance (ESG) and governance, risk and compliance (GRC) from both public and private companies, as both investors and customers want to know what they’re doing. 

“We’re seeing more and more compliance type of opportunities around the world,” Rockvam said. “So, I think the combination of our expense savings that we can provide our customers and just the need for further governance out there and further disclosures really helps us, even if we have some economic slowdown here.”