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A majority of finance employees are unhappy about pay

And they’re feeling pretty good about their chances elsewhere.
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Francis Scialabba

· 3 min read

News built for finance pros

CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.

Gartner released data Wednesday on the main factors that attract and retain finance employees. If you’re familiar with the hits of ABBA, you already know the biggest one: “Money, Money, Money.”

That should surprise no one, since most of us work all day to pay the bills we have to pay. But what might drive home its importance is how few finance workers are content with their compensation: 43%. There’s no option for “I feel so-so” about pay, which means that 57% of those surveyed are not pleased with how much they’re making.

Finance workers who feel shortchanged are at higher risk of decamping for another job. “Compensation is usually the top attraction driver and one of the main challenges CFOs have with retaining talent,” Gartner’s Shannon Cole said in a press release.

Unsatisfied staff might be less of a worry if the job market weren’t so tight. But as Cole said, “finance employees have high confidence in the labor market right now.” And Gartner’s data, collected in the fourth quarter of 2023 from more than 1,100 finance employees based in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and Latin America, shows that the discontent is about more than pay. Less than half of employees (48%) are happy with their work-life balance, which Gartner ranks as the second-most important way to attract and retain workers. Of the top five ways, location (#3) was the only one more than half of employees (58%) were satisfied with.

Gartner warned employers about the potential trade-offs of making employees spend more time in the office. A 2023 survey of managers found that return-to-office mandates only increased employee engagement by 1%, and discretionary effort—how willing staff are to do work outside their job requirements—by just 3%. But the same mandates made workers 8% less likely to stay in their job. And double the percentage of high-performing employees (16%) said RTO mandates would make them more likely to leave. In other words, a policy that requires more time in the office “will likely make it harder for finance leaders to attract new staff and [it] comes with a significant attrition risk,” Cole said.

More broadly, in a post-pandemic world, “it can be argued that four of the top five attraction drivers for finance staff all relate to the employees’ lives outside their offices,” Cole added. Employers who want to hire and retain their best employees should keep that in mind, she recommended, in addition to beating competitors on pay.

News built for finance pros

CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.