Part 2: Defining the Great Divide Between HR and Finance

July 8, 2016 Zuman

Welcome to the latest entry in a multipart series exploring the gap between HR and finance leaders.

In the introductory post, we examined the reasons behind the communication breakdown that occurs between HR and finance leaders. It's one born out of very different worldviews. HR leaders are more people-centric, dealing with the issues that occur within and between departments. Finance, meanwhile, emphasizes more of the concrete facts and figures of a business, concerning themselves with gathering information vital to a company's continued success.

But as our report "Aligning HR and Finance to Improve Business Outcomes" demonstrates, there is plenty of intersect between these two offices. In this second entry, we dive into the report's first section, and define more specific traits or behaviors that divide HR and finance. In better understanding the ideas that define this distinction, we can set the stage for the bigger issues at hand and possible solutions for bringing these departments more in line.

Technology is the answer
Perhaps the biggest factor into the divide is technology itself and how these tools are perceived within each sector of a business.

HR has its own doubts
As part of the survey, HR leaders demonstrated a total fear of change, expressing worry that new technological solutions, especially enrollments systems, may cause issues with transaction time or simply stretch a budget to its breaking point. This fear comes as many HR leaders are forced by HCM vendors to continually change, and adopt the newest and most advanced tech solutions or platforms. HR's relationship with technology can be described as maddening, and this can only complicate their perceptions.

Finance wants better priorities
Finance leaders are, for the most part, far less fearful of technology than those from HR. During our survey, the bulk of these executives explained that their outsourced HR solutions are already working effectively, and that the systems in place are already ideal. The real issue, then, is that finance believes HR isn't prioritizing, instead focusing on low-value transactions like payroll adjustments and vacation management. In response, many CFOs feel the need to assist with the larger-scale tasks and take a lead in these data-driven chores.

The numbers don't lie
The insights provided by HR and finance leaders paint a rather vivid picture:
•    75 percent of CFOs believe HR is too focused on day-to-day activities and not developing long-term workforce insights and strategies.
•    The vast majority of finance leaders believe HR solutions are where they should be, including 91 percent for HR administration and 89 percent for payroll administration.
•    Over 90 percent of CFOs involve themselves with HR's tasks to maximize people operations and cost evaluation.
•    Meanwhile, 95 percent of finance leaders feel that talent management is essential to a successful business and its efforts.
•    The majority of CFOs - 59 percent - feel as if HR isn't properly prioritizing a cost- and review-driven take on managing the workforce.
Stay tuned each week as we discuss a different segment of the report.


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