The move to digital working has removed the reliance on old repetitive and menial paper-based tasks. It has allowed finance teams to emerge from beneath the paperwork and start to take a more active and enriching role within our organisations.
Equipped with digital tools, their skills are being harnessed in more productive and forward-facing ways – whether it’s ensuring policy compliance, identifying inefficiency or evaluating risk.
For young finance professionals, it opens up exciting new opportunities, ways of working which simply weren’t available prior to the arrival of digital. And if this is what your business can offer, you have a powerful recruitment tool.
Because today’s generation of millennials have to decide not just where they want to work, but how they want to work – whether it’s within a digital-friendly environment or a workplace which retains an old paper-based approach.
Research by professional services company, Deloitte, has highlighted how this choice between old and new businesses approaches, embracing digital working, has become a major factor for today’s job searchers.
The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that while pay remains the most important consideration (22 per cent), it’s increasingly balanced against the work/life balance opportunities a job offers (16 per cent).
Related to this, 11 per cent viewed flexible working as the most important factor – with digital working tools allowing employees to have more control over how, when and where they work.
These findings show how millennials are looking for working opportunities which are in tune with the flexible and fluid way they live their lives. This is a generation which has grown up knowing nothing but a connected digital world.
Technology is seamlessly woven into their lives. They use online tools to handle everything from organising their social life to managing personal finances. They provide a fast, efficient and flexible way to get things done.
But the business world has been slow to embrace the same benefits with company structures often moulded to meet the needs of a pre-digital world. This is the traditional nine-to-five office – a place of paperwork, top-down management and rigid roles.
A prime example of this is the contrasting way organisations choose to manage their employee expenses. Many are still using paper-based set-ups which require finance teams to manually process a monthly flood of claim forms and bundles of receipts.
It creates a slow, repetitive and boring menial task for finance professionals, one which eats up company time and resources. With so much time devoted to processing, there’s little time left for finance teams to properly monitor and manage costs.
Alternatively, the experience for a finance professional in a company which has switched to digital expenses management is significantly different. With automated digital working processes, the need for menial paperwork tasks is virtually eliminated.
Instead, they have the time and resources needed to start properly policing an organisation’s expenses policy, using the data generated to identify inefficiency and root out fraud. The data generated by a digital system provides a forensic view of an organisation.
In this way, digital working processes help to empower employees whereas as the old paper-based way of doing things has a tendency to enslave workers under the weight of repetitive manual tasks.
So to attract the smartest workers from today’s millennial pool of talent, businesses need to create a workspace and culture which is in tune with a digital generation. It requires a general “loosening of the collar”, adopting a more flexible approach to the way we work and embracing the potential of digital technology.
It means replacing those old paper-based ways of working with smarter digital processes, using mobile technology to give employees greater control over when and where they’re able to work.
It’s the difference between a workplace in which finance professionals are forced to slog by hand through endless bundles of paper receipts and a workplace where everything is managed and monitored using digital working tools.
So, in effect, recruiting the best finance team is becoming a byproduct of switching to more flexible and efficient ways of working. Those companies who hold the biggest pull for young finance professionals are also those best configured to meet the demands of today’s dynamic business environment.
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