Finance News & Insights

Why Finance and HR should work together

Should Finance be in charge of the HR department? That’s one argument being made.

David McCann, writer for the Human Capital and Careers blog at CFO.com, argues that the Finance department would be better suited at handling the Human Resources department by recounting one specific scenario where HR goofed.

He points to a situation where kgb USA had to pay out $1.3 million to over 14,000 current and former employees because of misclassifying workers as independent contractors. In essence, the company had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act when it failed to pay its employees the federal minimum wage.

“Complying with federal laws and regulations is admittedly tricky. And in this case, the people in question worked from home, which may have contributed to the confusion. But really, paying minimum wage seems awfully basic,” McCann writes. “If you’re going to use independent contractors … then you’d better know what compliance issues are on the table. I can’t believe I wasted the effort to write that.”

Bringing more discipline and rigor

Ultimately, McCann’s position is that HR typically does not possess the same strategic thought-process and big-picture mentality that CFOs and Finance employees share. And if Finance handled the ins and outs of HR, the assumption is the department wouldn’t make mistakes like kgb USA’s and keep the big picture in mind at all times.

However, rather than paint HR employees everywhere with the same paintbrush and contemplate an HR-takeover by Finance, it would be better if the two departments collaborated more than they already do.

Put two heads together

Jerry Curtin, director of human resources for Standard Process Inc., said that the first step is to find common ground between the two departments. If HR is looking to revamp medical benefits, then it would make sense for Finance to be involved and help it be cost-effective. Here are some tips for working with HR:

  • Think differently. Working with HR is a prime opportunity for Finance to take a break from looking at employees solely as “costs” and instead as “assets.” When collaborating, keep that in mind and change your thought-process; you’ll get some good ideas out of it.
  • But stay the course. Of course, you don’t want to completely abandon the thought process that put you in Finance to begin with. Stay grounded and don’t let creativity or left-field ideas (no matter who’s pitching them) sway you into something costly. The company’s bottom line is always top of mind.
  • Help with interviews. Offer your expertise when it comes to interviews, whether it’s checking out selected applicants before the interview or coming up with additional questions for specific candidates. The big-picture outlook will aid in better decisions on hiring.
  • Participate in presentations. When there are changes to benefits, HR will usually hold a presentation of sorts. Offer your assistance when presentation time comes. When HR and Finance are united, employees will be more attentive to the changes and feel more confident about any changes.

 

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