- CFOs are planning to increase their compensation spend in 2023, with 86% of finance chiefs noting they plan to raise it by at least 3% year-over-year, according to a recent survey by Gartner.
- CFOs are still facing a tight labor market in 2023. As CFOs weigh increased turnover and a more remote workforce, “they're thinking through, how do they use compensation as a lever to engage and retain talent across their workforce,” said Alexander Bant, chief of research in the Gartner finance practice.
- Only 5% of the 279 CFOs surveyed stated they planned to reduce their compensation spend in 2023, according to Gartner.
While CFOs typically budget more for compensation every year, ongoing inflationary pressures and a still-tight labor market puts compensation plans “front and center” in CFOs’ “ability to engage and retain top talent,” Bant said in an interview.
However, this does not mean finance chiefs will be budgeting for sweeping pay raises across their entire workforce — CFOs are “not trying to keep up with inflation across the board,” Bant said.
Rather, they are working with other members of the C-Suite such as the chief human resource officer and using tools like advanced analytics to single out and reward top performers which might be at more risk of departing for other opportunities, he said.
“CFOs are being more deliberate about how they allocate that money,” Bant said.
While the pace of wage growth slowed in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to recent data from the Labor Department, tamping down fears of a wage-price spiral, the war on talent remains a top worry for finance chiefs. Raising compensation can allow companies to be more competitive in the face of ongoing talent shortages, especially as workforce needs change.
For those companies which are moving employees back into the office, for example, raising compensation can help them to better compete against the remote or hybrid work opportunities which are becoming increasingly common, for example, Bant said.
Upping compensation can also help firms to find or hold onto employees with the key skills they need in areas such as digital transformation. Despite cost pressures, 43% of finance chiefs said they plan to increase their companies’ technology spend by 10% or more, according to the Gartner survey.
“What we’re hearing is, ‘Yes, we are right-sizing parts of our organization and reducing head count in certain areas, but at the same time, we still have open roles and we're still searching for talent in those areas that align to our digital transformation priorities,” Bant said of the search for technology talent.
Such skills still come at a premium, for that matter, despite the recent spat of layoffs across high-profile tech companies such as Google parent Alphabet, IBM and Microsoft. While these companies have reduced staff, they may not be letting go of employees with critical hardcore coding, data analytics or artificial intelligence related skills, Bant said.
“There is more talent available from technology companies, but that doesn't mean that talent necessarily has the technical skills to drive the digital transformations that many CFOs and their leadership teams need,” he said.