As CFO, Pete Low oversees Saba’s finance, legal, information technology, revenue operations, corporate strategy, and alliances as well as the security, risk and compliance functions. Prior to his appointment to Saba, Pete served as CFO of Halogen Software for more than a decade.
Numbers, spreadsheets and financial results may get a lot of love in our daily work lives, but it’s important to consider human capital in equal measure. After all, if we believe that people are our most important asset, we have to embrace that mantra every day.
Luckily, we have a champion in our organizations – the Chief Human Resources Officer – who is an excellent ally in ensuring human capital (that’s our people!) gets the same focus as our financial capital (the numbers!). But the CHRO and his or her team also have a number of ways they can help us finance-focused folks meet business objectives and drive additional value. When HR gets involved in the strategic workings of a business, everyone wins.
Did you know that organizations that view HR as a strategic partner actually realize greater organizational performance? In fact, a study by Bersin & Associates (now known as Bersin) found that “business-integrated HR organizations” experience nearly 40 percent lower turnover, 38 percent higher employee engagement and more than twice the revenue per employee than do companies who view HR as a primarily transactional function.
The elephant in the room (the CHRO-CFO divide)
A divide between your CHRO and Chief Financial Officer may still exist in some organizations, where C-Suite leaders operate in silos, making it that much more difficult to “speak each other’s language” when it comes to making strategic business decisions, such as implementing a new talent management program or strategy. The challenge becomes even more complicated when these company leaders believe that their departments are polar opposites when, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
Studies show that when CHROs and CFOs are on the same page, their organizations experience:
- 26 percent higher revenue per employee
- 41 percent lower turnover
- Increased earnings of nearly 15 percent
Great business relationships are built on trust and understanding. Let’s move past the outdated convention that the CHRO and CFO have competing – or opposed – business priorities. Below are three distinct examples of how a CHRO’s contribution can move the business forward.
1. Your CHRO can advance the CFO’s vision
Both CHROs and CFOs must get employees engaged with the company’s strategic vision, mission, and goals. These two strategic leaders can work well together when they understand each other’s primary focus and expertise in evangelizing the company’s strategy. After all, you’re both passionate about your organization living up to its potential!
2. A great CHRO enhances performance management
High-performing CHROs must have a solid grasp on both the external and internal business environments in order to maintain their position as a strong business partner. CHROs are always looking for ways to optimize performance at all levels – and in all departments – across the organization. With a keen focus on performance management, the CHRO’s work ensures your organization will be in a better place to make critical decisions to drive positive business outcomes.
3. CHROs: A multi-functional powerhouse
Why do we need our CHROs? Let me count the ways:
- When our HR programs improve employee satisfaction and engagement, that means fewer customer complaints, resulting in higher customer satisfaction. This can be measured through client retention, which, in turn, directly affects revenue.
- When our CHRO and their team recommend HR initiatives that can improve efficiency, reduce costs and drive better business performance.
- Aligning the finance and accounting function with achieving the organization’s goals also involves developing effective talent recruitment and management strategy to attract, develop, and retain finance talent and the skillsets required to build practice excellence for their team.
Confidential to CHROs reading this
We might not always look like we’re the life of the party, but we CFOs are pleased to hear HR technology pitches. Yes, really! We want to know what new technology is out there and how it can benefit the organization.
Here’s a tip for your next talent management pitch: Before you assume that your financially focused counterpart would never approve your proposal, take a step back and think critically about where you can find common ground on driving better business outcomes.
Consider your organization’s strategic priorities and the key performance indicators the C-suite really cares about. Take the time to figure out how your talent programs will impact them and then make a tailored business case for your talent management programs. For instance, has your CEO prioritized expansion into emerging markets? Rather than saying your time-to-hire rates need improvement, translate that into what impact time-to-hire has on your organization’s ability to penetrate these new markets and drive top-line growth. You can link your investment in a talent management solution to this metric, along with metrics such as time-saving or efficiency. When you do this, you make the CFO’s job easy – executed well, your initiative’s ROI can pay for the talent management investment within a certain number of months.
I hope this list has helped you take another look at your CHRO and the talents they bring to the business. From recruiting to hiring to raising employee rates of engagement to aligning HR with business priorities, the CHRO is a valuable resource in the “people” side of the business – as well as the “numbers” side of the business.