What’s Keeping CFOs Up at Night? Retaining Talent

By The Intersect Group

As the U.S. economy rocks and rolls toward recovery, one would assume that Chief Financial Officers might be breathing sighs of relief.

And they are, most of the time.

But as the economy continues to surprise us (the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 266K jobs added to payrolls in April while economic experts had predicted upwards of 1 million), CFOs still have plenty to worry about.


Including retaining great employees

Deloitte surveyed CEOs in Q3 2020 and found that “retention of key talent” was their top concern.

“Even with a global pandemic, the more talented, experienced, and high potential members of our teams are being recruited,” Deloitte reported one respondent saying in its Signals survey.

Other CFOs concerns:

  • “Being able to pay our best performers enough to retain them.”
  • “Motivating and retaining top talent.”


This isn’t likely to change much moving forward

It will, more than likely, get worse:

Many remote employees want to remain remote (some full-time, some part-time). Having worked remotely for more than a year has meant that it’s been far easier to interview with a company’s competitors – and the competitors are eagerly snatching up great talent.

It’s been quite lucrative for high-level employees (such as members of the C-suite and VP-level):

Of course, many employees CFOs want to keep aren’t at such high levels. But employees from multiple levels in the organization are looking to jump ship this year:

The Society of Human Resource Management reported in March that “retention and turnover experts now predict voluntary job-leaving will increase significantly in 2021 as employees resume job searches they put off for the last year.”

Forbes in April reported that 2021 could see a “turnover tsunami,” with 52 percent of workers saying they plan to look for a new employer this year.


So what’s a CFO to do?

People are itching to GET MOVING!

That is, all of us are eager to go on vacation, eat at restaurants with friends and family, see the places we’ve always wanted to see in the world, move up in our careers (or even move to one we’ve always wanted to try).

That said, CFOs should prepare for an exodus in the coming months: more and more people are receiving vaccines, they are out and about, the world is opening up, and they want to experience all they can.


Beat the rush before it begins

  • Remember: salary really isn’t everything.

Many employees leave to make more money. But salary isn’t everything.

So while it would be nice if you could provide salary increases (perhaps as a “thank you for sticking with us this past, terrible, no good year”), don’t worry if you can’t. You have many retention strategies in your “keep ’em” toolkit than you might think.

  • Start at the beginning: improve your onboarding process.

Chances are you’ve already lost a few people and are starting to refill those positions.

Sixty-nine percent of new employees who said they had a positive onboarding experience are more likely to stay with you for three years. Businesses that focus on creating a good onboarding experience keep 50 percent more new hires than those that don’t.

Make sure your onboarding keeps your new hires excited: send them company swag, newsletters, updates as to what’s going on…even before their first day.

Once they arrive on their first day, their manager should take them around and introduce them. Consider taking the department out for lunch to welcome the person. Meet with them relatively frequently the first few months to see how they’re faring. If at all possible, give them an exciting first project on which to work (so long as it can be completed without knowing all about the ins and outs of the company’s culture).

  • Provide professional development opportunities for everyone.

LinkedIn back in 2018 surveyed employees and found that 94 percent of them would stick around if their employer invested in their professional growth.

It’s hard to leave an employer who spends money to help you develop in your career. Professional development opportunities do help keep your employees loyal.

  • Create career advancement opportunities for all employees at every level.

It’s a fact: employees who stay in the same position for a few years without being promoted are more likely to leave their employer.

Of course, not everyone can move into a leadership or management position (and neither does everyone even want to).

But everyone wants to grow, make more money and/or “advance.”

So consider creating what is called a “dual-career track.” That is someone could earn the designation of “expert,” rather than become a “manager.” This ensures that people can move up in their expertise and skills, be recognized and receive higher pay for them, but not have to move into a management position.

Finally, and this is possibly the most critical factor in retaining talent…

  • Make sure your employees are recognized and feel appreciated.

Sixty-five percent of people say they feel unappreciated at work.

You know what happens when someone feels unappreciated in just about any relationship: they move on to another.

This past year has been tough and many companies have made it a point to ensure their employees know how much they value them.

But that focus on appreciation could disappear as the next few months pass and things return to something similar to before the pandemic, with employees feeling disengaged, stressed and unappreciated for all their hard work.


  • Encourage managers to write personal notes to their team members, recognizing what they did well and how they appreciate it.
  • Ask employees to write notes to co-workers when they see them go above and beyond.
  • Hold impromptu “bragging” sessions where managers ask team members to take a short break and then brag about the efforts of two or three team members.
  • Consider giving out small prizes at these bragging sessions.
  • Encourage high-performing employees to apply for promotions.


The workload doesn’t stop when an employee leaves

 If you should find yourself losing employees to competitors (or they’ve always wanted to live in France and they’re going freelance for the rest of their career), The Intersect Group can help.

Learn more about how we source and place highly skilled IT and finance/accounting professionals for your contract, contract-to-hire, and direct-hire staffing needs.