The Labor Day holiday recognizes the contributions and achievements of American workers. So when the Great Resignation, boomeranging, and quiet quitting are all taking place, what do finance workers expect from their employers to feel appreciated and stay with the company?

Jessica L. Bier, U.S. human capital finance transformation leader at Deloitte, told me the firm’s recent finance workforce survey across sectors points to the top 5 things employees want:

– Compensation
– Meaningful work
– The option to work remotely or hybrid (flexibility)
– Career growth and opportunity
– Recognition

“Depending on the individual, they might have some pieces that are more important than others,” Bier says. “But as a finance function, you need to look at all five.”

Compensation, career mobility and flexibility are all areas that many companies have reviewed as the war for talent continues. But how would a CFO ensure employees feel their work is meaningful? And what would be the correct form of recognition?

“The antithesis of meaningful work is to say to an employee: ‘Just do it because that’s your job,’” Bier says. “Employees want to understand how what they do connects to the bigger picture of both the finance organization and the larger organization.” An employee doing reconciliations every day wants to know why that matters, she says.

What’s an example of connecting meaningful work with finance? If you look at the health care sector, “it’s incredibly important that we get to health equity for a host of reasons,” Bier explains. “One reason is health inequity costs a lot of money,” she says. “If you can’t get people coming in for their general checkups for preventative care, the incidences will be much more expensive when they need care. Well, the CFO has a role to play in health equity. And finance has a role in quantifying inequity’s cost.”

Meaningful work is about “what” you do, but also “how” it gets done, Bier says. “If you feel that you’re part of a high-performing team, and if people are supporting each other, that’s also a component of meaningful work,” she says.

Regarding recognition, it doesn’t have to be an award or prize; it can be as simple as an acknowledgment and thank you, Bier says.

“At the heart of this, people want to be seen and understood for the contributions they’re making,” she explains. Sometimes, there are tasks at work that we just have to slog through, she says. It makes a big difference when a CFO, another finance executive or a manager takes a moment to speak to the individual: “‘I really appreciate that you got this done; I know that it’s been very intense, but you persevered,’” Bier says. It makes the finance worker feel like more than “just a number in a spreadsheet,” she says.

Finance chiefs realize that workforce expectations are changing. In Deloitte’s Q3 Signals survey, “We asked, ‘Which internal risk worries you the most?’” Bier explains. “Hands down, it was employee retention and related challenges—attrition in key positions, high staff turnover, leadership turnover, loss of key talent to markets or competition.” She says other concerns included the ability to hire, compensation expectations, and hybrid work adjustment.

“A couple of weeks ago, I had a finance executive say to me, ‘When we have a downturn, people are going to be happy to have jobs, and we’re not going to have this problem anymore,’” Bier told me.

“That’s not true,” she says. People who have the skills that CFOs seek to help expand their company, like data analytic skills, storytelling skills, strong partnering skills, and tech savviness, have options for where they can work, Bier says. “You can’t think that an economic downturn is going to solve your talent attrition and retention problems,” she says.

Bier advises finance leaders to get data on employee sentiment by partnering with HR, conducting surveys, and asking managers. “One big takeaway—CFOs are the chief talent officers of the finance function,” she says. “At the end of the day, finance owns its workforce experience.”


In observance of the Labor Day holiday on Monday, the next CFO Daily will be in your inbox on Tuesday. Enjoy your weekend. Take care.

Sheryl Estrada
[email protected]

Upcoming events: This month, the Fortune CFO community will meet in person in Chicago and Dallas for two in-depth dinner conversations to delve into the new leadership strategies CFOs must embrace. CFOs, click here to apply to join us in Chicago at Sepia on September 22 or click here to apply to join us on September 29 at The Mansion Turtle Creek in Dallas. Please note that attendance is complimentary and subject to approval. See you there!

Big deal

“Returning to the Office: The Current, Preferred and Future State of Remote Work,” a report by Gallup released on Aug. 31, found approximately 56% of full-time employees in the U.S.—
more than 70 million—say they can do their job working remotely. According to the report, five in 10 employees are working hybrid, three in 10 are exclusively working remotely, and just two in 10 are entirely on-site. Another finding is that if an employer doesn’t offer flexibility in remote work options, there is a high risk of turnover. Sixty percent of exclusively remote employees are “extremely likely to change companies” if not offered remote flexibility. The same applies to 29% of hybrid and 15% of on-site workers. To navigate the nuances of remote and hybrid work strategies, Gallup recommends examining your organization’s current state of remote work, business needs, and risks. The findings are based on a national survey of 8,090 remote-capable U.S. employees in June 2022.

Courtesy of Gallup

Going deeper

Here are a few good weekend reads:

Goldman Sachs is done with COVID in the office by Sophie Mellor

NFT marketplace OpenSea told employees to avoid securities-related words like ‘trading’ and ‘derivative’ when talking about NFTs by Anne Sraders 

Tezos cofounder Kathleen Breitman on 3 things in crypto that will ‘age poorly’ by Taylor Locke

Researchers say it’s teatime. New study finds drinking black tea could lead to a longer life by Alexa Mikhail 

Leaderboard

Some notable moves this week:

Josh Jepsen was named SVP and CFO at Deere & Company (NYSE: DE), effective September 16. He is succeeding Raj Kalathur, who will continue as president of John Deere Financial and chief information officer. Jepsen has been with Deere for 23 years, working in accounting and financial analysis roles across the company’s manufacturing and North American sales and marketing operations. He was also the manager of commercial operations outside the U.S. and Canada for the company’s Construction & Forestry division. Jepsen also served as controller for the Asia Pacific and Africa region, based in Singapore.

Dominik Asam was named CFO at SAP SE (NYSE: SAP), effective March 7, 2023. As previously announced, after 26 years with the company, Luka Mucic, currently CFO, is stepping down. He will remain an SAP SE Executive Board member until March 31, 2023. Asam comes to SAP from Airbus. He also previously worked at Infineon Technologies AG. 

Amanda Blum was named CFO at Lynx Software Technologies, a developer of open architecture software solutions. Blum was previously with Green Hills Software, a provider of embedded safety and security solutions, where she served as the corporate controller. Prior to joining Green Hills, Blum held several senior financial and accounting positions at Sientra, Inc., a publicly traded medical device company. 

Jack Calandra was named SVP and CFO at Caleres (NYSE: CAL), which has a portfolio of consumer-driven footwear brands, effective September 12. Calandra will succeed Ken Hannah, who has served as CFP of Caleres for the last seven years. Calandra most recently served as CFO of a.k.a. Brands. Before that, he served as EVP, CFO, and treasurer for Tailored Brands. Calandra also held several executive positions at Gap, Inc.

Henry Hagopian III was named CFO at Annovis Bio, Inc. (NYSE: ANVS), a clinical-stage drug platform company addressing neurodegenerative diseases, effective immediately. Jeff McGroarty has stepped away from his role as CFO to pursue other interests. Hagopian comes to Annovis with 30 years of finance and accounting experience, including 15 years at Organogenesis, most recently as SVP of finance and treasurer. In 2020, he was the company’s interim CFO.

James Hathaway was named interim CFO at Qurate Retail Group, part of Qurate Retail, Inc. (Nasdaq: QRTEA, QRTEB, QRTEP). Jeffrey A. Davis, CFO, has resigned from the company and is expected to remain for a transition period. Hathaway joined Qurate Retail Group in May 2021 as an SVP to lead finance for the company’s largest reporting unit, QxH, serving as CFO for QVC US and HSN. Prior to joining Qurate Retail Group, Hathaway spent more than 20 years with PepsiCo/Frito-Lay in roles including VP of financial planning and analysis. 

Samar Kamdar was appointed CFO at Biote Corp., a differentiated medical practice-building business within the hormone optimization space. Most recently, Kamdar served as CFO at Slync.io, a software-as-a-service operating platform. Previously, he was CFO at TaxAct, a provider of tax preparation solutions. Kamdar has also held roles at Crossmark, a sales and marketing services company and Availity, an internet-based health information exchange. He also spent six years at PepsiCo in several financial roles.

Darren Myers was named CFO at Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. (NYSE: AQN). This follows the decision of Arthur Kacprzak to step down from this role effective immediately, according to the company. Myers most recently served as EVP and CFO at Loblaw (TSX: L), Canada’s largest retail company. Prior to Loblaw, Myers spent 16 years at Celestica (NYSE and TSX: CLS), a global supply chain and manufacturing company. His roles included EVP and CFO.

Overheard

“People are demanding better pay, better titles, more wages, better working conditions. If you’re an employer out there and you’re attracting these Gen Zs to your company, you have to be creative. If you’re recruiting folks, sometimes your business model is so strong that the worker has to adjust to the business model. But in a lot of cases, the companies have to adjust to the workers’ expectations.”

—U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told Fortune in an interview.

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