It’s no secret that effective collaboration within business functions can improve workplace performance. But what is the corporate impact when two typically siloed functional leaders – the CFO and the CHRO – collaborate among each other?
Does it make sense for CFOs to know certain things about HR, such as human capital management? How can both leaders collaborate efficiently on high-level discussions when a meeting in-person is not feasible?
A recent Forbes article explains the benefits of when CFOs and CHROs collaborate among each other, and provides tips to help get these two leaders to increase their collaboration.
According to a recent EY study featured in the Forbes article, companies with a high-level of collaboration between finance and HR departments experience an increase in cash flow, along with greater employee engagement and productivity. Also, eighty percent of CFOs and CHROs surveyed by EY indicated that their relationship has become more collaborative over the past three years.
“CHROs need to understand finance, and CFOs need to be more people-centric,” said Dennis Carey, vice chairman and co-leader of the board services practice at Korn Ferry, an executive recruitment firm. “The link between financial numbers and the people who provide the productivity to reach those numbers should be inseparable.”
In terms of fostering greater collaboration, the EY report recommends that companies invest in technology that pulls real-time data analytics to help CFOs and CHROs track, reflect and make recommendations on performance metrics. An example of a performance metric CFOs may want to look into is data regarding the time it takes HR to recruit, hire and onboard new employees. Finance can provide a different perspective and their own recommendation from this data to help determine the appropriate amount of money to be spent on improving the hiring and training process.
“An important piece of recruiting is to use performance metrics to check the skill sets of existing employees so you know whether to invest in additional training or recruit from the outside.” – Baskaran Ambalavanan, senior human resources information system manager at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, a law firm in Irvine, CA.
The EY report also recommends that CFOs and CHROs break down silos by investing the time to meet and strategize to address challenges faced by each party from multiple viewpoints. When both sides take the time to meet, each can gain a broad experience across the business, and can work with each other to help improve financial and operational performance.
Of course, bringing together two different departments to discuss corporate strategies and tactical insights can be a logistical challenge. This is especially true as CFOs and their finance teams are often isolated from other departments while being bogged down with cost reporting, audits debt management, and taxes.
Also, both the CFO and CHRO may be separated by distance – which is often the case within an enterprise – and taking the time to travel and meet in-person may not make financial sense.
In addition to physical distance, finance and HR are driven by presumably opposing forces – data and people, respectively. So getting these two departments to become empathetic of one another is a challenge within itself.
Using video as a collaboration technology can turbocharge content sharing to help build trust and empathy – e.g. finance can share meaningful data while HR can read body language. This builds the trust and empathy that are nearly impossible to foster when communication is confined to voice or text. With video, both finance and HR can collaborate effectively with each other face-to-face within a conference room, or in front of a desktop computer or mobile device.
When Polycom decided to roll out Workday as its new human capital management solution, there were huge opportunities to collaborate across HR and finance to create the best outcome for both departments. DJ McLeod, Director of Global Accounting Process and Design Strategy at Polycom felt that video collaboration played a huge part in the success of the Workday project.
“Eyes and body language tell the story. As we met to discuss important elements of the roll out, it was easy to see whether the people on the far end were confused (giving me the opportunity to try explaining it in a different way on the spot) or excited about the progress we’re making.
We had standing, weekly meetings during the project and it would have been easy for participants to get disengaged. But enterprise video appeals to the two most common learning styles – if you’re a visual learner you see the people in the meeting and the content presented and if you’re a verbal learner, the high-quality audio comes through for you. Video-enabling our meetings helped keep all the gears moving in this project.
Because video is so ubiquitous at Polycom, we were also able to jump onto ad hoc video meetings to solve issues quickly when they arose. And being that the majority of finance and HR staff is spread across the globe, we simply could not afford to travel to and from for each critical discussion. Thankfully, collaboration through video was able to form a bridge across this chasm.”
Effective collaboration between CFOs and CHROs can have a significant impact on a firm’s bottom-line. The key is getting both parties to collaborate and use the appropriate communication platforms, such as video when distance can create a barrier to business success.