Rick Telberg
Rick Telberg
  Five Clues You’re Working for a Loser

Corporate finance execs already know whether they’re working for winners or losers. How about you? Next question: Got gadget lust?

October 8, 2009
by Rick Telberg/On Finance

With the economic downturn bringing sometimes brutal pressures to bear on corporate finance, many companies are bracing for huge and troubling levels of staff turnover at the first signs of an uptick.

Some companies and organizations will be hurt by the staff turnover. Others will be well-positioned to take advantage of the new flood of talent.

But finance professionals who believe they work for a relatively superior organization are far less likely to be looking for their next job and far more tolerant and understanding of the sacrifices required in this recession.

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The differences are striking. For instance, corporate finance executives who say they work at better-than-average companies are only half as likely to report “crisis” levels of stress and they’re significantly less likely to be considering a job change, according to a Bay Street Group study for the AICPA Insider family of e-mail newsletters. Of all people, corporate finance professionals know the costs of excessive turnover.

But what do these better-than-average companies look like? And what does it take to become one?

A senior executive at a global technology company gives her Fortune 500 firm the highest ratings because “we set objectives, define metrics and use those to manage and to achieve the objectives.”

But it’s not just the Fortune 500 where you’ll find excellent companies, great finance organizations and high-achieving professionals.

“Although my job is stressful and demanding,” says Dana Best, a top financial manager at a county agency in Carlisle, Pa. “I am fortunate to have a job that also understands that single parenting is demanding and that gives me the flexibility to be both a good parent and a good employee.”

She rates the organization highly, terming it “progressive.” And, she says with palpable pride, “politics are kept to a minimum. Most of the time, the county is run like a business. We are rated AAA by Standard & Poor’s. And we offer excellent service while maintaining one of the lowest tax rates for counties in the state.”

Another government-employed finance professional is still enjoying her new promotion. There’s “more e-mail and meetings,” she says, and “less real work.” But unlike other local government agencies, “We have better fiscal management so we haven't had layoffs and pay reductions like basically every other similar entity in the area.”

Another professional says that despite the fact he works in a small, privately-owned company, he appreciates the fact it “attempts to stay cutting edge with technology.”

A senior staffer at a mid-size company is planning no job change, because, in part, his “company appears concerned about its employees' attitudes and offers special training.”

“We work to create a positive environment,” according to another finance manager when asked to explain why she gives her company superior ratings. “We work to give feedback as we go along rather than only at performance appraisal time. And our leaders are individuals of integrity with a concern for our employees.”

In summarizing these responses, you can sift out at least five traits that might separate the winning organizations from the losers:

  1. Set reasonable objectives.
  2. Define the metrics of success.
  3. Reward achievement.
  4. Provide family-friendly working conditions.
  5. Encourage professional growth and excellence.

But maybe the best testament to what makes a company great is this quote from a senior staffer at a small “family-friendly” company: “We have very little turnover. Employees who come here from competitors love it here.”

Corporate finance competitors, consider yourselves warned.

NEXT QUESTION: GOT GADGET LUST? What are the tech tools or toys, gadgets or gizmos that CPAs love most today? Plus: Benchmark your technology strategies against other firms and companies. Click here to join the Tech Trends Survey. Get the answers.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Comments, questions, rants or raves? E-mail Rick Telberg.

Copyright © 2009 CPA Trendlines/BSG LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. First published by the AICPA.

About Rick Telberg

Rick Telberg is editor at large/director of online content.

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Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the AICPA or CPA2Biz. Official AICPA positions are determined through certain specific committee procedures, due process and deliberation.