Survey Shows CFOs Are Increasing Their Involvement With HR

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CFOs are becoming more involved in human resources issues, as companies more and more break down traditional silos in favor of ever greater collaboration among departments and divisions.

Better than 8 in 10 CFOs say their responsibilities have expanded in the last three years to touch areas as diverse as marketing and operations.

Human resources leads the list, with 21 percent of the 2,100 CFOs surveyed saying their job now includes at least some involvement with HR issues. Following closely, 19 percent of CFOs reported having some responsibility for IT.

A “blurring of functional areas”

Robert Half Management Resources, which commissioned the recent survey, did a similar one in 2011. That year, just as the economy was starting to revive, operations was cited by more CFOs (27 percent) than any other area. Human resources trailed with 19 percent of CFOs referencing greater involvement there.

CFO-role-survey-2014What’s happening, says Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, is that “CFOs are becoming more involved” in all areas of a company. The “blurring of functional areas is better than ever,” he said. “Everyone is involved in a collaborative mode.”

This is especially true in HR where, McDonald points out, predictive analytics — dependent on data analytics — are becoming a critical part of recruiting and hiring. “It’s a more complicated world,” he observes. Navigating it requires talents from wherever in a company they maybe found.

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However, involvement doesn’t mean management, McDonald explained. That CFOs are finding their role expanding doesn’t mean a return to the years ago reporting structure where IT and personnel were functions of the finance division.

The impact of Big Data

Instead, the new importance of data to business, and post-Great Recession corporate frugality have demanded that CFOs be involved in most strategic decisions.

Big data is pushing the change,” says McDonald. Finance has a long track record analyzing data, so its expertise is called on by other departments with less understanding of how to gather, manage, and analyze numbers.

Likewise, companies are demanding that projects, especially those carrying a price tag, show a return. That’s where CFOs come in. “ROI,” says McDonald, “is being used (to examine) everything an organization is involved in.”

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


3 Comments on “Survey Shows CFOs Are Increasing Their Involvement With HR

  1. It’s good to observe more cross-departamental collaboration. HR activities are closely linked to return on investment – for instance, hiring a new employee costs an equivalent of a 3 months pay, so retention has a great impact on finance.

  2. This is an interesting article but I’m not sure I attribute the move to just Big Data. Corporations with mature human capital approaches should be using workforce analytics, workload analysis, pulse surveys, onboarding and retention measures, and various other instruments to fully understand their workforces. All of these important, but often uncaptured, pieces should be linked to CFO data with the appropriate context. Be very careful about allowing your human resource metrics and decisions to be interpreted solely by CFOs. This trend highlights the need for HR to be a strategic partner to the CFO and Chief Performance Officer, not just a contributing data source.

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