Building a strong sense of belonging is how CFOs can retain digital talent, said Gartner recently.
Digital talent has very distinct priorities from core finance talent, and often feels alienated and is therefore more likely to be looking for other roles as a result, the advisory firm noted.
Gartner defines digital talent as the individuals with the experiences and competencies required to drive digital finance transformation and operate in a digital environment.
This group generally includes dedicated systems and technology specialists, as well as analysts who modify or adapt existing digital capabilities to enhance their own work or the work of their immediate team, the firm added.
“Finance functions can ill afford high rates of attrition in their digital talent, especially while many are on a journey towards autonomous finance,” said Marco Steecker, director, research in the Gartner Finance practice.
Understanding that digital talent has different motivators will definitely help contribute to how CFOs can retain digital talent, Steecker noted.
Despite finance functions’ acknowledgement of talent being the top challenge, attrition of digital talent in finance remains high, the firm observed.
Finance leaders typically try to address this by providing employees with the authority, confidence, and resources for digital finance talent to overcome their frustrations, an approach Gartner describes as empowerment, the advisory firm said.
Yet a May 2022 survey of 202 digital finance staff suggests that an empowerment strategy only goes so far, and leaders should also be thinking about how to create a sense of belonging among their digital workers, Gartner noted.
How CFOs can retain digital talent: Empowerment and sense of belonging
Finance leaders who try to build a sense of empowerment for their digital talent tend to offer things such as increased managerial support and greater freedom to execute on digital projects and new initiatives, said Steecker.
“This does reduce the frustrations experienced by digital talent, but it can also create a sense of alienation from the rest of the finance department,” he advised.
While moving a digital finance employee from a low to a high sense of empowerment does have a very significant impact on retention, going further than that does not have a significant impact as the retention benefits of empowerment are offset by increased feelings of alienation.
“Empowerment is still an important factor in retaining digital talent and getting the best from them,” said Steecker. “But leaders should be aware that once they have empowered their digital employees they also need to watch out and manage for the possibility that those employees may begin to feel alienated and distant from the department as a whole.”
How to create a sense of belonging
To help finance leaders with this, Gartner experts have identified three key principles that strengthen digital finance talent’s sense of belonging.
Alignment with purpose. It’s important that digital finance talent sees their values and priorities reflected in finance’s digital strategy.
Clarify long-term possibilities. Help digital finance talent to see how there is a place for them in the future finance organisation.
Connect with people. Create opportunities for digital finance talent to feel kinship with their colleagues in the finance organisation.