The goals of financial management leaders heading into 2018 should focalize around ways to amplify efficiencies, bolster productivity and revitalize workforce engagement. These three components are the essential drivers for enhancing top and bottom line growth.

Accelerating Digital Transformation

Forward-thinking CFOs, dubbed the "digital apostles" by Accenture, have taken the initiative to embrace and integrate digital transformation into finance departments. Not only should this continue, but competition mandates the acceleration of the transformation. Digital holds the key to accommodating all three goals of financial management.

Cognitive Automation

Integrating automation for repeatable tasks including data collection to transaction matching, ledger posting and reconciliation improves overall accuracy and efficiency. Artificial intelligence (AI) enabled robotic process automation can be enhanced to handle more complicated, yet repeatable (and boring) processes.

While employees may fear the loss of roles as a result of deeper automation, leaders should reassure their workforce of the opportunities for job growth for those willing to evolve. The message is to convey how the organization integrates automation that empowers, not eliminates workers.

Human Capital Investing

The surplus of human capital created by cognitive automation can be levered, trained and repositioned for higher value tasks including investigative research, auditing, process enhancement, data analytics and forecasting functions. Investment in human capital through training is a necessity for growth. However, finance leaders may find it prudent to make specific, rather than general, human capital investments focusing on organization specific training. The tightening talent pool makes the potential threat of poaching or job-hopping a common dilemma.

Virtual Reality Immersion

While virtual reality (VR) is most closely associated with gaming and entertainment functions, organizations are discovering how powerful this tool is for training program. This vibrant technology draws attention and locks in the user forging a physical and psychologically connection that compels full attention and engagement with no distractions, the essence of full immersion. VR captures subtleties from facial gestures, voice pitch changes to body language demonstrated during a client meeting, that can't easily be derived from a 2-D training video. Interactive seminars, meetings and engagements are just a fraction of the ways VR can enhance skill sets and empower employees through engaging training sessions.

Variable Pay and Payroll Card Programs

As employees transform and improve skill sets to raise their human capital value, organizations can develop variable pay plans that incentivize growth and achievements. These can be tailored to a group or individuals directly. To boost morale and highlight rewards, finance leaders should consider integrating a payroll card program where variable pay rewards can be transferred. This can become a tangible reminder carried around by employees that celebrates a job well done and motivates them to continue to improve. In a society where consumers are always signing up for rewards programs and bonus points for purchases, why not have the same when it comes to work performance? Having an optional payroll card where bonuses and rewards are transferred can further galvanizes motivation and fosters engagement.

Business leaders will rely even more on the analytical and forecasting prowess of finance teams moving forward as the organization of the future takes shape into the New Year.

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Tags: cost efficiency compensation Accounting