Why CFOs Need to Build Strong Partnerships With HR (and Vice Versa)

CFOs and HR have long been thought to work in entirely separate business sectors. As the old wisdom goes, the CFO oversees the hard metrics of the business, while the CHRO focuses on the personal relationships between employees and the company. As a result, the two are completely independent of each other.

Well, no longer.

The Problem Facing CFOs

In the current environment, amidst the fallout of COVID and the Great Resignation, CFOs and CHROs need to work more closely than ever before. As of March 2022, 44% of workers have begun to seek a new job, with companies across the country struggling to fill vital roles at every level of the organization. It’s hard to put a number on how this mass exodus has impacted businesses, either through revenue loss due to attrition or blows to company culture. However, the effect on the bottom line has been enormous. CFOs are beginning to understand something that has long been known to HR:

Though it’s easy to think of employees as a company’s greatest expense, they are also a company’s greatest asset.

The Benefits of a Partnership Between CFOs and HR

HR can help CFOs look at the situation around employees holistically, offering input on business decisions that will not only retain current workers but also attract top talent to the company. In addition, CHROs can offer a fresh perspective on questions of benefits, payroll, and in-person vs. virtual work — all vital parts of a company’s financial health that a CFO must contend with. Most significantly, HR can help CFOs foster a positive workplace culture.

Workplace Color Spectrum® Tool

Culture is the glue that holds a workplace together. It is invisible, omnipresent, and extremely important. Though its effects are difficult to quantify at times, it’s clear that company culture impacts productivity. Studies have found that teams which feel engaged and supportive are 21% more effective than teams that do not. Companies with highly motivated, invested employees consistently receive higher rates of satisfaction from customers. As the financial nerve-center of a company, CFOs have huge sway over decisions which affect workplace culture: how much to invest in workstations and employee amenities, whether to work in a hybrid or virtual model, how much resources to put into talent acquisition. HR has its ear to the ground on all things related to employees, and can help CFOs make decisions that foster a successful culture for everybody.

The partnership [between CFOs and HR] provides a holistic view of business needs, it strengthens the cultural fabric, and aligns strategic priorities that also support the company’s vision and goals,” says Emtrain CFO Jennifer Thresher, “People are a company’s largest asset and they determine results which adds long term value in the organization. There is a clear return on investment with attraction and retention of employees, even as the cost of acquiring talent continues to increase.

For their part, CFOs can also make CHROs more effective at their jobs. In HR, it is easy to get caught up in the particulars of recruitment and employee relationships. CFOs can help CHROs quantify their work, and hold them to hard culture and productivity benchmarks. Working together, these two once-disconnected parts of the business can confidently navigate the unique challenges of today’s workplace.

To learn more about how you can measure and improve your workplace culture, download a free demo from Emtrain.


CFOshrLeadershipWorkplace Culture
Jacob Halabe

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