How many meetings are held in your organization each day? How many staff members are engaged in those meetings? How much time is spent by top talent resources on activities that don't fully leverage the knowledge, skills and abilities they bring to your firm — or the total cost of their employment?
As a finance leader, you're likely concerned about whether the talent in your organization is reaching their potential and being well utilized. Top talent commands a high price, both in terms of salary and benefits and associated costs. Some of those costs can be tough to quantify. For instance, how much lost value does the organization accrue when key managers spend most of the day in meetings?
Helping Top Talent Reach Their Potential
Finance leaders can help other departments understand the value of top talent through value-based thinking and communication, and the standardization of processes to free up people's time.
Dawn Roberts, owner of Dawn Roberts Consulting, says it's important for businesses to quantify their goals and identify potential gaps. For instance, Roberts recommends considering the average time not spent on value-added tasks, and the business impact top talent contributes per project. Once quantified, communicate it clearly in a graph or table and use it as your case for action. This way, you'll have numbers that can help drive actions.
"A big cause of why top talent isn't used appropriately is that there are too many fires to fight," says Roberts. "An organization should focus on standardizing processes, creating predictable and efficient environments that free up top talent time to focus on creativity and problem-solving."
When top talent isn't effectively utilized, organizations may also be at risk for their departure.
Keeping Top Talent Engaged and Adding Value
In terms of dominating a market, top talent can bring a lot of value to the table. Top talent may focus on driving business performance or developing new revenue streams. Marta Moakley, attorney and legal editor at XpertHR, says that businesses won't realize this value if top talent find themselves distracted by noncritical or low value-added work.
According to Moakley, there's a psychological aspect involved. "In order for employees to be truly engaged, they must be working on projects that inspire them and push them to either maintain existing skills or develop new ones," she says. "If a top performer is assigned empty tasks, then their level of engagement will decrease accordingly."
If your best performers aren't actively engaged, your organization could experience significant business losses. Finance leaders can boost the impact of top talent contributions by working closely with HR to highlight the importance of proper resource allocation. "In today's gig economy, existing projects may be properly allocated by adjusting staffing needs and possibilities," says Moakley.
Shobhna Upadhyaya, Senior Manager of Business Operations at LinkedIn, recommends quantifying the impact of talent based on their cost per hour as well as impact to business (leading a team, impacting revenue, launching new products). If these valuable human resources are spending too much time on noncritical tasks, not only is this costly for the organization, it also has the potential to adversely impact staff morale. To discourage organizations from wasting top talent's time, businesses could articulate the following:
- Trade-off analysis for projects. "Businesses can provide guidelines around true north metrics (revenue, acquisition, churn) and incentivize departments to prioritize projects and tasks that directly impact these true north metrics," Upadhyaya says. "Projects that have a bigger impact on a true north would automatically be given priority."
- Cost-benefit analysis of meetings. Unnecessary meetings can waste significant time. "Leaders can provide guidelines on cost of meetings to a business and encourage departments to quantify and articulate the benefit of large meetings," Upadhyaya says. The benefit could be a financial value or even a softer criteria such as team morale.
Both finance and HR have a role to play here as they educate the organization — and each other — on how to effectively value the top talent resources within their organization so this talent can be deployed wisely and cost-effectively.
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