Insights and advice for treasury teams grappling with new challenges in recruiting talent and holding on to it.
Treasury departments are not immune to the tight labor markets and higher workforce churn rates roiling employers at the same time they grapple with managing remote workers and the entry of a new and younger generation with different work expectations.
- That reality formed the backdrop for a conversation at a recent meeting of NeuGroup for Mid-Cap Treasurers on how to attract and retain talent, with several members reporting that they are struggling to backfill open positions. They also outlined hurdles they face in searching for new talent.
Cutting through red tape. At several companies, HR resources have shrunk considerably during waves of cost reductions. “That leaves HR unprepared for the challenge of recruiting in a difficult market,” complained one of the participants. Plus, because HR typically controls the hiring process, it can involve too many handoffs.
- “It can take eight weeks to hire someone,” explained one member. “Meanwhile, candidates get multiple offers, and are more likely than not to take another offer.”
- The expanding adoption of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) policies is a great step forward, but it also presents a new roadblock for treasurers. “We used to just go into the system and pull the resumes. Now, the identity is not only disguised, but to avoid any chance of bias, HR has blocked hiring managers’ ability to access resumes,” one member said.
Remote work. Virtual work is an opportunity to expand the talent pool, especially for organizations in locations not favored by applicants. At the same time, it’s harder to conduct interviews and even harder to onboard using Zoom or other tools.
- While remote positions may be more attractive right now, members were unanimous in their belief that treasury staff needs to be in-office because of the high-value, critical transactions they execute as well as cyber risk and the chance for fraud.
- New technologies enable more secure execution and segregation of duties; however, the consensus among members was that these new tools are not yet ready for prime time. This perception may have to change, as another potential surge in the pandemic arrives, once again postponing companies’ return-to-work plans.
Talent is hard to find. Getting open positions filled is definitely more difficult right now. Therefore, the challenge for treasurers and their HR partners is to embrace new ways of reaching out to potential candidates. Just posting a position and waiting for people to apply is not enough. “You have to leverage your network and reach out proactively to potential candidates.”
- Treasurers also need to expand beyond established recruiting strategies to include non-traditional sources of talent. One way is to leverage relationships with finance professors at universities and colleges and ask about graduates they’d recommend.
- Another is to use external recruiters to complement HR’s efforts. Only a couple of members had experience with treasury-focused recruiters, and the jury still out on how effective that experience may be.
Build the brand. It’s also important to market the treasury brand. “Let’s be frank, treasury is the most exciting place to work in finance,” said a member. That needs to be clearly communicated in job postings and conversations with potential employees.
- However, treasury teams must also be aware that what excites the younger workforce is different: Digital natives expect a high degree of process automation and the chance to work with “cool” technologies that mimic their consumer experiences. This is one among many reasons treasuries must update their technologies and embrace new tools for internal interaction as well as core activities such as payments.
The upshot. The “Great Resignation” is not leaving treasury unscathed. Some members were facing the task of hiring to fill multiple positions, leading to a rethink of career paths within and outside of the function. A clear career path is also a highly effective way to attract new talent.
- In the meantime, treasurers are considering more cross-training and working with HR and general finance on rotational programs. “We have a three-year rotational program in finance, and treasury is an important stop. This approach has generated a lot of success in hiring internally,” one member said.