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Finance Leaders are Reimagining How They’ll Protect Employees


Speakers at The 2021 Financial Leadership Summit Virtual Conference explored a new dynamic workplace model where organizations have a professional core of employees, access to a flexible labor force, and experts available for short-term, immediate need contracts.

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The 2021 Financial Leadership Summit Virtual Conference kicked off yesterday with Andrej Suskavcevic, FEI’s President and CEO, and Adam Miller, CFO of Barron Lighting Group and Conference Chair, welcoming us. Since the onset of COVID-19, finance leaders have reimagined how they’ll protect employees, build organizational resiliency, and quickly pivot in an ever-changing new normal. Often hidden in challenge and crisis is opportunity to restructure our personal mental models and our companies’ ways of being.

Seemingly overnight, we learned we are far more capable of change than we may have believed. With this newfound clarity, we gather at Summit for six learning-rich days. We’ll be offered new insights from our peers, content experts, and industry leaders. We’ll be given casual forums to launch and deepen relationships that will help us confidently navigate life’s highs or lows. And, we’ll be gifted resources that guide us in implementing change our companies and communities need to bridge societal divide. There will be opportunities to experience our sponsors virtually, and download the digital conference bag, in the engagement hub. 

FEI invited me to offer opening remarks about investing in yourself and paying the new awareness forward. I shared nine research studies addressing workplace trends. From the causes of generations Y and Z feeling demotivated to the pandemic’s undesired health effects to institutional trust evaporating globally to increased focus on mental health to the growing demand for workforce re-skilling, finance leaders are being asked to integrate their work and life experiences in new ways. I offered suggestions for setting a foundation of self knowledge and iterating on it. I addressed how generations Y and Z are transforming company culture and what you can do to engage them. And, I shared frameworks you can deploy to ensure employees are learning experientially and passing skills peer-to-peer.

In their session, Leading at Speed: Planning and Reporting in the New Normal, John O’Rourke from OneStream Software, and Yolanda Coronado with Teledyne Technologies, offered six focus areas to ensure you are closing each period efficiently. They’re seeing many companies return to rolling budgets and forecasts. John’s clients are also using specific use cases and predictive analytics for financial signaling throughout the month. Static budgets are hard to adhere to, but forecasting frequently allows for effective pivoting.

Jana Allen and Eric Knachel, from Deloitte, showed us that many organizations seemed to have a bias that society might return to what is was pre-pandemic. Fortunately for many, strong revenue growth and unexpected cost reduction produced better than expected financial results. Jana highlighted that societal change offered opportunities for companies to improve their employee onboarding, training, and monitoring programs to ensure internal controls were safer. When some employee are in the office, and some are working from anywhere, increased communication is key safely engaging our teams.

Is your company prepared for new human capital disclosure requirements? Kimberly Lanier from Protiviti, and Tim Hird with Robert Half, offered an overview of the new public company reporting requirements. Kim offered a tremendous overview of the seven dimensions of people risk and discussed the important connection between the employee and customer experience. She addressed finance executives and their need to focus on improving productivity through reducing burnout and improving wellbeing. Tim walked us through the new dynamic workplace model where organizations have a professional core of employees, access to a flexible labor force, and experts available for short-term, immediate need contracts.

Our final session of the day, The Impact of President Biden’s Tax Policies, was led by Dr. William McBride from The Tax Foundation. He offered great metrics-based insights into the company and societal effects of the current administration’s campaign promises and initiatives since taking office.

For transparency’s sake, when the opening video was played just before Andrej welcomed us, a tear ran down my left cheek. For seven years, I’ve interacted with FEI members and have formed incredible relationships. My mind’s eye was flooded with images of those interactions, the stories I’ve heard, and the messages I’ve exchanged with many of you since March 2020. Through the pandemic, we’ve evolved. Our world is decentralizing. You’re uncovering your authentic selves. Our humanity has made its way into the workplace. Thank you for navigating all of this… with me, with one another.

For the last four years, Michael S. Seaver has served as emcee of the Financial Leadership Summit. For more on his work as speaker, leadership consultant, and executive coach, visit michaelsseaver.com.