Surviving the Great Resignation for Finance Leaders

The “Great Resignation” has left its mark in the workplace. The pandemic has caused unrest across the economy and spurred mass job quitting in nearly every sector with finance, health care, and tech being especially hard-hit. 3.9 million people quit their jobs in June of 2021 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of several months in which that figure approached record highs, and more have left since.  

Employees have noticed that more of their colleagues are leaving or have started looking for work elsewhere themselves. Vacancies create extra work for employees that remain who must take on extra responsibilities in the absence of their peers, worsening levels of job dissatisfaction. Employers, meanwhile, have had to deal with accelerated churn as workers and on-boarded and off-boarded seemingly at random. More than half of workers in 2021 said they were looking for a new job. 

The pandemic has revealed flaws in the way businesses have been operated, as shown most obviously by the fact that workers, when given the choice, have chosen to leave their positions at the first possible opportunity. Things need to change so that finance leaders and other employers can retain their workforce and receive the best quality work in return. 

There are many contributing factors to the Great Resignation. Some workers have gotten used to working from home and do not wish to return to the office, and are now seeking out jobs that will allow them to work from home all or most of the time. Similarly, other employees might seek job opportunities that would previously have been unavailable to them due to geography. A great number of employees, put simply, are leaving their jobs due to a lack of satisfaction with their position or pay and a desire to seek more fulfilling work elsewhere. In Canada, 50% of employees feel as if they are underpaid in their current position and a great deal of them would be unwilling to continue in their current position without significant improvements. 

As finance leaders and managers, it is important to react to these changes proactively to avoid costly churn cycles. Luckily, the keys to the successful post-great-resignation workforce are actionable and easy to implement.   

  • Improve Work-Life Balance 

One reason why many employees could feel dissatisfied with their jobs is that they feel that they are spending too much time at their jobs and that they do not have enough time left to spend time with their families or pursue their own interests. Burnout has damaging psychological and physical effects on individuals and is pronounced in the financial industry. It can lead to reduced productivity, depression, physical illness, and potentially, hospitalization. In 2021, 42% of U.S. women and 35% of men felt workplace burnout all or most of the time according to McKinsey. The solution to burnout is to provide a work environment that is comfortable for the employees and emphasizes a balanced, fulfilling life rather than unproductive overworking.     

If people can maintain their productivity at home and are happy to work there, there is no reason to ask that they return to the office. Those who wish to return to the office may do so, which thus ensures that all employees have work environments that work to their requirements. This could create additional savings for employers who no longer must pay as much for expensive inner-city real estate. People need to spend time with their families and develop lives outside of work so that their work can improve and provide more value for their employer.  

  • Improve the Quality of Work  

Another common reason for people leaving their jobs is because they feel frustrated by outdated technology that requires excessive amounts of tedious manual inputs. Research has shown that employee well-being is boosted by superior, automated technology. So much of finance work is reduced to painstakingly searching for data, copying it into one spreadsheet, and then referencing it on another, with no guarantee that the numbers being cited are even remotely correct. Issues of aggregation and disaggregation produce further headaches. The finance office is well-educated, intelligent, and capable of providing so much more than data entry for an organization. Switching to an automated FP&A solution like Limelight can unleash a financial team’s analytical and creative abilities and save time and costs while creating profit opportunities.     

Post “Great Resignation” work culture should be refocused to highlight the deeper, more analytical skills of employees, rather than their ability to perform tedious tasks and show up at an office on time. This will have the compound effect of making employees enjoy their work, which can increase productivity.     

Conclusion: 

The workforce is the biggest single expense for most finance departments. The pandemic has thrown the workforce into jeopardy by creating a labor shortage and making positions harder to permanently fill than they ever have been. Finance leaders must focus on improving their employees’ work environment as the economy shifts both to make their working life more enjoyable and to receive better ROI. 

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