Historically HR and finance have been more rivals than friends, driven by a misguided perception that one cares about people and the other about money – with no middle ground. But is it really that black and white?
Far from being a HR thing, resourcing and the people agenda are business-wide priorities. If getting the right people was just a HR thing, then it wouldn’t be top of most CEOs and CFOs list of objectives. The problem though is that the general perception is often that HR doesn’t have the processes and mindset to deliver. However, the problem is that HR is not lacking data, what they often lack is the intelligence to understand and act on data.
Equally, Finance have all the data tells you the ‘what’, but not the ‘why’ – perhaps why as a department they are often seen as detached – lacking the insight you only get from working on the front lines and understanding the little nuances that affect all these figures – company related, people related, industry related and so on.
Combining the ‘what’ from Finance and the ‘why’ from HR, then, surely creates a winning combination? If each can offer what the other lacks, isn’t it time, as a Finance or HR professional to put your differences aside and embrace connected working across your departments?
Need a bit more convincing that building a relationship with your perceived HR/Finance rival can significantly improve working practices and business performance? Here are some proof points:
Reason 1: Connected working between HR & Finance directly impacts results
80% of Chief Finance Officers (CFOs) and HR leaders believe that they work together better. High-performing companies tend to spend 50% more time on this relationship, and report better overall integration between finance and HR. EY global survey,
“The closer the co-operation between finance departments and human resources (HR) departments on areas like bonus schemes, the better the organisational performance will be” 2009 CIMA report
Organisations integrating HR and finance systems and building people data dashboards are also characterised by stronger organisation performance: 73% strong performance business respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they have access to a dashboard of people data, in comparison with 50% of those who indicated their business is of average performance CIPD
Reason 2: HR and Finance already work together
It’s likely that finance and HR are already working together in some capacity. According to CFERF, 71% of those polled said finance is involved in HR functions such as payroll.
Beyond the transactional though, combining the people-focused knowledge of HR with the analytical capabilities of finance is also happening: A more recent study of C-level, IT, Finance and HR professionals found that:
- 35% plan to create a shared finance and HR function within a year
- 42% are motivated by improvements in productivity and performance
- 46% of respondents from finance and HR say that their collaboration with each other has significantly improved
No matter your view on the link between HR and Finance, the statistics reveal that business who are improving the relationship between the departments are performing better. Not surprising when connected working can help both teams determine what defines metrics like productivity in the workplace, and how to develop metrics and KPIs to track and improve them.
Reason 3: You both want to improve retention
- 58% of organisations have trouble retaining employees
- Estimated losses falling between 30% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary for replacing employees.
- 80% of employee turnover can be attributed to bad hiring decisions
- 36% of businesses believing that the main reason for a failed hire is a bad skills match
Poor retention is a financial loss that not only impacts the Finance department but also HR, given the additional pressure to recruit a replacement, not to mention the knock on effect throughout the business impacting employee morale and productivity. HR will likely also be asked some tough questions by senior management when it comes to unpicking bad hiring decisions.
The desire and pressure to reduce employee turnover is a common ground for HR and Finance, which means it’s also a great place to start if you want to enhance connection between the departments. To drive home this point Head of Human Resources at worldwide tech company Harris Corp Jeff Shuman shared his story of creating an innovative healthcare project in collaboration with Finance: 12 years ago they built an onsite medical imaging centre to reduce increasing healthcare costs, he said:
“It has saved us millions of dollars… and it’s given the company greater control over its health care spending because they can evaluate how the facilities are used to customize their offerings.”
In this case HR and Finance collaborating led to a radical investment that simply wouldn’t have happened previously, he added:
“When human capital is the single-largest spend, it takes the collective effort of HR and Finance to balance cost management with attractive programming.”
High turnover is a big problem for many businesses and the marriment of HR and Finance has the potential to drive change in that area. Together you can improve employee retention or tackle the indirect costs involved in replacing employees including the recruiting, hiring, and training for new employees.
Reason 4: Your data belongs together and will bring you closer
For both Finance and HR teams to succeed, both need to have governance over employee data, enabling both departments to understand key factors that impact their capabilities, including absence, payroll, employee start and end dates and engagement in business-wide systems. If HR and Finance have disparate data sources then they are likely to miss key opportunities which can help both of them meet their objectives. Not only that, they will likely both have conflicting views on the best approach to improve objectives like retention, engagement and recruitment.
If you want to encourage collaboration across departments then bringing the data together is the most powerful step business can take to do that. For example, HR expert Cristine Sauter points out that when they share financial and employee performance data:
“HR and finance can create incentives that reward exemplary work while increasing morale, production and customer satisfaction… all of which have a huge effect on the bottom line and profit.”
If HR are able to access real-time financial data and analytics they will also be able to offer competitive salaries and benefits packages. For example, writes HCM professional Nancy Estell Zoder, if data indicates a need to hire more salespeople to increase new product sales:
“HR decision makers who are privy to real-time financial reports can quickly determine how many sales professionals they can afford to hire, with what skills, and at what salary range.”
Reason 5: Tension between departments is just bad for business
No matter the reason for conflict, both HR and Finance want the same things at the end of the day: To help the business grow and the most efficient and effective way possible. It doesn’t have to be complicated either. If you think about it, the key to any good relationship is communication and remaining connected. That means open doors, open minds and sharing data to help you both come to a mutual understanding of the role your departments play in meeting those shared goals.
84% of the value of your business will be intangible assets, which invariably is your people and their ideas. HR are best positioned to manage those assets from a people perspective and Finance in a position to facilitate progress on those areas.
If you are not working together on shared goals then you are working against each other and that just isn’t good for you or the business. At best, this could result in duplication of work, or time spent unpicking reports trying to understand insight built on different data. At worse, a disconnect could result in conflict and will likely impact morale, resulting in low engagement and poor productivity.
Getting HR or Finance on side is only going to help your cause, not hinder it.
Reason 6: Together you can stay ahead of the competition
“Without HR and Finance openly communicating and providing the other with expertise and detailed on going data; a business will struggle to compete in today’s market. As a modern business in our ever evolving economy it is imperative to have full support between HR and Finance. The benefits are extensive, bringing production, customer satisfaction and profit to maximum potential.” Cristine Sauter, HR expert
A HUB survey found that collaboration between Finance and HR was nowhere near where it should be, with 93% concerned about HR missteps with executive liability and 33% of finance executives expect HR to go over budget.
The good news is that many businesses are now embracing the opportunity for both departments to work closer together and seeing progress. Xerox, for example, shared their successful HR and Finance collaboration story working together to produce significant benefits. The Personnel Today article read:
HR and finance working together at Xerox has brought significant benefits. Through sharing people data and the skill sets required to derive actionable insights from it, Xerox has been able to build predictive models for identifying the employees at greatest risk of leaving.
Harnessing these predictive analytics has helped cut labour turnover at the organisation by 20%. And there are now datasets on average labour costs by role and country, enabling it to target future talent investments on the areas generating most revenue.
The Routeget Technologies is a leading provider of integrated business management software. Our portfolio spans ERP, finance, HR, Payroll, Recruitment, warehousing, business intelligence, professional service automation and manufacturing. More than 500 businesses and not-for-profit organisations use products and services provided by Routeget to improve their performance, profitability and drive growth. The Routeget Technologies is one of the fastest growing enterprise software solution provider. Our on-going commitment to excellence, customers and employees, has also placed us among the India’s top employers.