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Top tips to resignation-proof your finance function

Does the thought of your finance staff leaving keep you awake at night? Get prepared with our tips to keep the numbers running and business moving.

While resignation is inevitable, business disruption isn’t. Take a look at our top tips to help you prepare and protect your finance function.

As we head into post-pandemic life, there’s a trend sweeping the US and UK that has business owners and HR managers around the country on alert.

Dubbed the Great Resignation, this ongoing trend is seeing millions of people voluntarily leaving their jobs. And it looks set to continue, with 41% of the global workforce looking to change their jobs in the near future. It appears the pandemic has ignited a mass shift in priorities, with millions of people re-evaluating their lives and looking for change.

While the jury is still out on whether the Great Resignation will hit Australia, it does raise the very real concern of what happens to your business when key staff move on from their roles. This is particularly an issue with SMEs, where staff resources are limited, and the cost of employees leaving is high. If the thought of your accounts and finance staff walking out the door is keeping you awake at night, now might be the time to ‘resignation-proof’ your finance function.

7 tips for resignation-proofing your finance function

Resignation-proofing your finance function can help minimise the pain of staff turnover. It’s about having a plan in place to limit disruption, re-direct work, and continue momentum. With some proactive action, there are several things you can do to prepare.

1. Understand where time is spent

Knowing how your team members spend their time and what needs to get done within business-as-usual activity is a critical step in resignation-proofing your business. This process, which we call ‘Session Planning’, starts with identifying how work is managed across your finance function, including:

  • What work is each person completing?
  • How long does each task take?
  • When is each task due?
  • Are there any dependencies, and if so, what are they?

From here, you can map out the recurring accounts tasks, along with documenting processes for each. You can then feed these processes directly into your project management tool of choice to help ensure business continuity. For example, if someone is sick for a day, you can run a report on what they needed to do and allocate the tasks to other team members. It can also inform our next tip, which is all about better managing workloads across the team.

2. Rebalance workloads

Being overworked is one of the most common reasons why people leave their job. This is especially an issue for top performers, who are often rewarded for their performance with additional responsibility. It can also be an issue for businesses that are growing quickly but haven’t had time to adjust workloads and resourcing to reflect this. 

Some common signs that your employees are overworked might include:

  • Overtime and long hours have become the norm.
  • Tasks are overdue and deadlines are being missed.
  • Employees struggle to find a time to take leave from the business.

To address overwork issues within your team, you can use your Session Plan to help re-balance workloads and responsibilities across your finance function.

3. Automate where possible

When was the last time you looked at automation across the finance function?

While you may have already automated several processes, we’ve found that there’s almost always an opportunity for more. Technology changes rapidly in this space, and most finance managers don’t have the time to keep pace with the latest developments. There’s a good chance there are solutions that didn’t exist even a year or two ago, that could potentially help your business.

To get the most out of automation, it’s important to regularly review your options to continue to refine your processes and reduce the impacts of staff leaving.  

4. Cross-train critical tasks

For every business, there are time and business critical finance tasks that need to keep running, no matter what. These will likely include paying bills and staff, issuing invoices, and getting paid, as well as business critical reporting. Using your Session Plan to identify these tasks, you can determine opportunities to cross train within the business. Invoicing, for example, might also fit well with sales or operations. Training staff in other teams means they can help cover this process when needed.

5. Audit systems access

A less glamourous yet critical tip is to ensure you have the login and access details for all your systems. Finance functions are often keepers of systems across the business from payroll to HR to invoicing, all of which are crucial to business continuity.

Password management tools such as Lastpass or Keeper have helped simplified password management for businesses – both big and small. They’re secure and they include a sharing ability, allowing businesses to select which passwords are given to different people. If someone leaves, all you need to do is remove their profile from the password manager, rather than every system they had access to. 

6. Gain a clear view of projects

One of the most difficult challenges with staff leaving, particularly if it happens quickly, is the lack of visibility of an employee’s current workload across regular everyday tasks and larger, one-off projects. This is especially important within the finance function, where employees have taken on projects that are fundamental to progressing the business strategy.

Project management tools such as Asana and Trello are being used by businesses around the world to help organise work with clarity, for both management and employees. While the Session Plan maps out the accounts team’s recurring processes and workload, bringing your team’s project work together in the one shared space allows you to see exactly what stage a project is at, what’s outstanding, and when deadlines are due. If a staff member leaves, you’ll know exactly what work is outstanding and where to delegate to keep things moving.

7. Seek external help

For some businesses, the potential turnover of key staff is enough to see them looking for alternatives.

Even with all the preparation in the world, there may be times when you need to look outside your business to help fill in those resource gaps. Some options you could consider include:

  • Reaching out to your external accountant to see if they can provide any short-term resources on secondment.
  • Using the services of a specialist finance recruiter who can help with providing staff at short notice.
  • Accessing external expertise by outsourcing your finance function on an ongoing basis, making resignation a non-issue

Future-proofing your finance function

Current resignation trends aside, staff turnover is inevitable, and it’s a challenge that comes with running a business. With some proactive planning, you can prepare your business for change and minimise the disruption that can come with staff turnover. And if you need external expertise to help resignation-proof your finance function, reach out to the Slate Accounts team today.

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