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Finance Leadership Session: Insights

Who would have thought back in March that the best part of 4 weeks before Christmas would be sat on a Zoom call discussing virtual cocktail making classes as work Christmas parties or virtual Santa visits for staff and their families?

2020 has been a whirlwind of a year, one in which it has paid for you to be agile in your approach not just in a business sense but in a personal sense as well! 

On Friday 20th November, 13 Finance Leaders from well-known PLC’s, PE backed businesses and Non-for-Profit organisations joined us over Zoom for discussion and knowledge sharing around two core topics that had been pre-defined by the group:

1) What are businesses and leaders doing to support their people and teams through the current “moment in time”.
2) “The un-forecastable” – how are we reacting to a situation which feels unforecastable. 

It’s clear that leaders of people and indeed organisations themselves, large and small are wrangling with similar challenges. 

Maintaining morale, bringing the team together in a time that is hard for everybody and maintaining a sense of connectivity has been priority. This combined with wellbeing seems to be number one for leaders in this current moment in time.

1) Supporting people and Wellbeing.

We had some brilliant areas covered on the “supporting people” discussion point and its clear companies and leaders within are working tirelessly to make this process easier for people. Some of the key points raised were:

- Absence rates are down but does that mean people are pushing themselves too hard. Have people really been taking the time needed for themselves?  
- Are leaders considering everyone in their organisation when making those key decisions? As one attendee mentioned, people have hugely varying situations from one side being equipped with a home office and relaxed workspace to the other side of people working in a shared house working from their bed!
There are some positives coming to take away from this. One of the companies had ran a recent annual engagement survey which showed that actual team working scores are up against last year. People are pulling together more, booking time for lunch together, and working better as a team.
- Honest and regular communication is key. CEO’s moving from monthly to weekly updates, even if this means the CFO’s child making un-accounted guest appearances on Zoom updates!  All hands sessions monthly at a team level and at company level, every three months to keep communication open.
- Gifting employees that half day off to say thank you and giving them the time to re-boot
- L&D is still important. Great examples of companies moving to more of an E-Learning set up and tailor making the content specific to this moment in time (planning, getting stuff done etc.)
- Christmas is a BIG deal. Virtual cocktail making classes, virtual visits from Santa, virtual escape rooms, comedy nights with a mix of video and a bit of in-office footage seems to have worked well. A Winter Wonderland Wellbeing focus is being implemented by one particular organisation which involves a number of online events across the month of December. Hampers being delivered to staff at home are also something that is being explored.

A couple of key tips that were shared with supporting people in mind came to light, including:

- Enable video on all Webx / virtual calls, it gives that presence and personal interaction.
Implementing a series of watch anywhere / anytime webinars work well, covering everything from mindfulness through to how to secure your financial future to really support people from personal perspective.
Setting up internal networking groups for members of staff living on their own as a support network.
- Buddy system for coffees and catch ups to pick up on that casual interaction that is being missed by most of the workforce working from home.

2) The un-forecastable.

It’s certainly been an interesting period of time and when the curtain came down at the beginning of April, trying to forecast what the next 6 months would involve was crystal-ball time, or as one of our attendees framed it “You’d either be lucky or wrong”!

High level scenario planning was the aim early on in lockdown, however the scenario numbers quickly neared double figures for some by the time summer came and like any change in the economy or shift in markets, there were winners and losers. We had examples of those in customer driven industries that are governed by the lockdown rules and finding things a challenge, through to those who have implemented new tools and technology to help service increased demand.

We also heard examples of companies running three base forecasts (centre forecasts, good scenario, downside scenario), leaders embracing and implementing new technologies to try and forecast online product demand. Live documents seemed to prove a revelation for board members and in using these from a financial planning perspective, it gave visibility to both current and previous assumptions as the forecasts moved on.

It has been a strange year for sure and to be a leader in finance has clearly had its challenges, both in terms of the technical aspects of giving insight and projection of the numbers, through to leading teams of people and the multiple factors that are needed to be considered with this.

As we start to look to the future, the prospect of vaccines, the world starting to re-open and recover and getting into what this new normal looks like, it’s hugely important to stay connected and have a setting in which you can share and absorb knowledge from outside of your immediate personal and professional circle.

If you would like to get involved in the next Finance Leadership sessions or would like to understand more about what this looks like, then please reach out to me directly and we can arrange a time to discuss.

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Aynsley Buggy

Aynsley Buggy

Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant

07458 162 419
0115 870 0300