The Burnout Brink

600px-shutterstock_140576308In our lives and workplaces, stress is playing a bigger and bigger role. The speed of business is moving faster than ever, emails pour into our inboxes all day long, and employees are expected to keep pace with an increasing workload. And that 40-hour workweek? Gallup says the norm is more like 47 hours. It’s little wonder it’s called “the daily grind.”

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the problem of employee burnout is worsening resulting in steep turnover and high health costs. A survey conducted by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace found 95 percent of human resource leaders admit employee burnout is sabotaging workforce retention, yet there is no obvious solution on the horizon.

A “burn and churn” culture rapidly decreases employee engagement, loyalty and productivity. And, larger organizations are more likely to bear the brunt of burnout. One in five HR leaders at organizations with 100 to 500 employees cited burnout as the cause of 10 percent or less of their turnover while 15 percent of HR leaders at organizations larger than 2,500 employees say burnout causes 50 percent or more of annual turnover. Continue reading

The New F&A Essential: Skilled Talent

No matter where you look, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find F&A help that has the right mix of abilities. Between the shrinking unemployment rate and a growing demand for talents that far exceed traditional finance skills, companies are continually at a loss to find qualified personnel.

Yet people are an essential component to success in any industry. Businesses require the right staff in place to ensure high-level performance and optimal customer satisfaction. So, what are companies to do when they’re unable to find or retain the high-value workers they need?

The talent war is one of the most pervasive risks organizations face. In survey after survey, executives report having succession challenges and difficulty attracting and retaining top talent.

And it just might get a little harder in 2017. According to the latest Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance from staffing agency Robert Half, salary levels are expected to rise by an average of 3.7% in 2017. It’s a new reality that finance leaders have become all too familiar with: when it comes to modern-day F&A, the power lies with the prospective hire.

Skilled professionals are in high demand and short supply, and employers have no choice but to negotiate competitive compensation packages. Today’s professionals don’t need to ride out long hiring processes; with multiple offers on the table, they’ll opt for the one that is most engaging and financially rewarding. Continue reading

Location Strategy: Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

For finance professionals, it might be surprising to learn that the three hardest words in business don’t involve terms like “KPIs,” “reconciliation” or even “regulatory.” In fact, for most F&A leaders, the hardest words to grapple with are, “I don’t know.”

No one likes to admit they don’t know the answer to something. It can signal vulnerability or a lack of authority. But the best leaders are open to different perspectives and willing to benefit from others’ experience. It’s essential that they have the confidence to look elsewhere for answers when they can’t provide them on their own, because eventually, even the savviest of CFOs will need input from someone else.

So the question is this: What issues or challenges have you thinking, if not saying, those three big words?

Location, Location, Location

If you’re like many businesses evaluating or looking to increase your global footprint, you might be asking yourself: “Do I have the right resources in the right locations around the world?”

It’s a fair question. As branch offices continue to expand, business functions like Accounts Payable or Accounts Receivable are grouped together across a few key hub locations to reduce costs. And although companies need to be wary of the costs of setting up shop in metropolitan cities, there is the danger of moving so far out that skilled F&A labor becomes scarce or is unwilling to commute. Continue reading

If Time Is Money, Where Are Your F&A People Spending It?

office-sceneIt’s Friday, and, dear F&A professional, look around. As F&A offices around the world wind down for the weekend, there’s an uncomfortable truth lurking under that general sense of weekly accomplishment.

In a 2015 assessment of 832 companies’ finance organizations, “How Finance People Spend Their Time,” APQC asked finance leaders how much time they spent on transaction processing, control, decision support, and management activities. The survey revealed, that regardless of company size, approximate half (49%) of the workday is taken up by routine transaction processing.

Lost Time, Lost Human Ingenuity

Over the course of a workweek, that means that from bright and early Monday morning until Wednesday just around lunchtime, your highly paid F&A people are just keeping things ticking along. Paying bills, reconciling accounts, and doing all those other tactical tasks that keeps a company in good standing.

Necessary work, no doubt, but work that does not add value to the company as a whole. What finance professionals and CFOs want to see are for their teams to be focused on initiatives that drive revenue and profitability—initiatives that are aligned with strategy. Continue reading

Location Strategy: Focus on Outcomes

As the global economy continues to gain momentum, we find ourselves living and working in an increasingly competitive environment. While opportunities abound, so do challenges. In addition to delivering to its customers, an organization must deftly oversee global operations across all functions ensuring consistent outcomes.

To stay ahead of the competition, continue to thrive and keep up with the brisk evolution of technology, many companies are continuously looking for ways to future-proof their business.

The emphasis is less on cost reduction and more on higher performance, greater flexibility and agility. Continue reading

2017: The Year We Engage

What’s up for 2017? Higher wages, that’s what’s up.

The staffing agency, Robert Half has just put out its latest Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance , which shows salaries levels are expected to rise an average of 3.7 percent in 2017. For example, an entry-level staff accountant (or general accountant) is expected to increase in 2017 by up to 4 percent, with starting salaries at a large company, ranging from $58,750 to $75,750.” Other positions in demand are controllers, financial analysts, business analysts, and senior accountants.

In a press release Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half said, “With skilled professionals in high demand and short supply, more employers are willing to negotiate compensation with potential hires. Top candidates are receiving multiple job offers and will lose interest when faced with a lengthy hiring process.”

In other words, everyone wants to find, retain and keep the best talent.

Beyond Talent: Engagement & Productivity

However, once organizations acquire the talent they are seeking, how do they fully engage them and get the very best work from their people? One of the best ways is to move away Continue reading

Getting The Right People into the Right Job

Access-to-Talent.jpgWhen companies look to hire, they are highly concerned with getting the right people with the right skills into the right position. It’s their people that drive value to the organization and propel strategy and vision forward. Achieving that perfect mix is mission-critical.

In the business process transformation industry, it’s no different. One of the first questions clients ask us is “how will you find the right talent for us?” So, I thought I might explain a bit about how we do that using a recent example from our Tail Spend services in Barranquilla, Colombia.

Cultural Fit

Our client is based in the United States and has a strong Hispanic presence and client base. Their employees are fluently bilingual, and so when it came to trying to reduce procurement costs, delivering services from Barranquilla, Colombia, made complete sense, and was an easy first step.

One of the make-or-break aspects of a new partnership is cultural fit. Relationships need to bond quickly, and language and the ability to innately grasp and understand culture is key. Our job is to form, create and promote our client’s culture within our organization. So, another factor in cultural fit is company characteristics. We need our people to mesh with the client’s team seamlessly. Continue reading

Overcoming Barriers to Change

DigitalChange (1)There’s no denying the routine of the status quo is a comfortable groove. But if organizations want to create a culture of innovation —from new product development to the continuous improvement of processes— then the status quo won’t cut it. Change is inevitable.

Yet even with decades of change management models and theory to draw from, the failure rate of change management initiatives is still pegged between 60-70%. The problem with such a high failure rate is that not only will falling short of the end goal result in lost opportunities, but there are will also be wasted resources, and skepticism, as a result.

The fact is, change has always had a remarkable way of affecting people that can often result in resistance, pushback or sometimes outright hostility.

Change is scary. It’s not just dipping your toe into unknown waters, often it’s a deep dive. When companies implement a new RPA program, there can be a dramatic shift in how work is performed. At the operational level, employees worry about robots taking their jobs, or about whether they have the skills needed to successfully navigate their way through the process reengineering. Continue reading

Service Delivery Leadership: The Top 5 Qualities Clients Want

innovationThe BPO provider selection process should include a careful evaluation of the cultural fit between the two partners, and more specifically, around the service delivery team that will be interacting with an organization’s retained staff.

Strong leadership is the backbone of any organization, and the service delivery executive is the person who is the client’s advisor and advocate, working to help shape, drive and oversee solutions that meet their most pressing needs, and keep their operations humming along while continuing to improve.

Once the contract is signed and transition is complete, the service delivery executive is the first point of contact and, in many ways, the “buck stops here” person in charge of realizing client objectives.

Clients are looking for a unique mix of those intangible leadership soft skills in combination with someone who as walked in their shoes and has in-the-field, earned-my-stripes credentials. The service delivery role encapsulates the skills required not only to deliver optimized operational processes but also provide value and influence business outcomes.

When working so closely with a service delivery leader, there are a few key qualities that help cement excellent partnerships and outcomes. Here are some of the top qualities clients are looking for:

  1. Creates a Climate of Trust: It doesn’t get any more mission-critical than this. While trust is built over time, during the initial meetings – and throughout the engagement– clients want straight answers and complete transparency. No transition is a walk in the park. There will be challenges, and a leader in service delivery will set expectations and work closely with the client and their engagement team to mitigate any risks. As the teams work together, any successful innovation requires a strong trusting bond, so it is essential that the groundwork begin at the very start.
  1. Strong Customer Focus: One of the traits consistent with a consultative approach is the ability to get inside a client’s mind and understand their pressures and challenges. This requires effective listening skills to truly hear the text and subtext of the client and then ask questions to clarify objectives and priorities. Built into this customer focus is a persuasive communication style to convey these needs to the delivery team, and encourage teams to work together and achieve more than they thought was possible.
  1. Business Acumen: Process knowledge, strong F&A skills and credentials as well as the expertise that comes with experience over a wide range of clients are all key to a successful engagement. Every client wants to know how their organization compares to industry standards, and are looking for a point person who can help them understand where they are on that scale and will lead the transformation to best-in-class.
  1. Vision: The service delivery leader is forward-looking, a person who sees possibilities. While keeping one foot firmly planted in the daily operations, this person must also see the big picture of each engagement, and effectively communicate to the teams where they are going and what needs to be accomplished. The creation of this compelling vision inspires, clarifies and focuses the work, so that everyone understands what needs to be done to move the needle for the client.
  1. Entrepreneurial Drive: Clients are seeking to work with people who are champions for change and will never let the relationship stagnate. They want a partner who will execute on their vision and then actively look for new opportunities or share insights gleaned along the way. They want someone who can deliver value and innovation, and be the catalyst for financial transformation.


CFO Risks: Attracting, Training & Retaining Talent

No matter the industry, one thing is critical to all businesses: People. Having the right personnel for the job is essential to ensuring top performance and high customer satisfaction. But what happens when companies can’t find or retain those valued employees?

The modern workplace is a battleground for highly skilled workers. Best-in-class businesses have thrown down the gauntlet, challenging CFOs everywhere to join the fight in retaining top talent.

Recent findings from Protiviti and the North Carolina State University Enterprise Risk Management Initiative reveal that, for board members and executives worldwide, the talent war is one of the most pervasive risks they face. Among respondents, 52% reported having succession challenges and difficulty attracting and retaining top talent.

Every indication shows that staffing obstacles for F&A leaders will only get bigger. Recently, the HR agency Robert Half reported that there is more competition than ever for new hires, and that the hiring process takes longer than in the past.

Citing the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the report reveals that there were more than 5.4 million job openings at the end of November 2015, up from 32% two years ago. That’s promising news for prospective employees, but less so for executives. Fully 60% of CIOs and 58% of CFOs say that it’s somewhat challenging or very challenging to find the skilled professionals they require. Continue reading