According to Sisco, CFOs and finance organizations have an impact on culture, whether they realize it or not. One area of major influence is around investment decisions, because of how much they can impact the employee experience and retention.
“Industries are different, but employees are always a large part of expenses,” said Sisco. Money spent on employee programs are “investments in employee retention,” she added.
As an example, Sisco highlighted the company’s investment in Workday’s leadership programs, citing a two-day summit last year that brought in people managers from around the globe to the Bay Area to ensure they all had a common understanding of the culture and how Workday expects people managers to behave. “We were growing so fast,” said Sisco, that there were inconsistent employee experiences across the company.
Sisco said that many CFOs would see such an investment as unnecessary spend, but that Workday’s senior leadership team saw it as a crucial investment in people and culture. “It’s much easier, and much cheaper, to invest in maintaining your company culture. If you let it degrade too much, it’s extremely expensive, and difficult, to turn things around,” she said.
Sisco acknowledged that not all investment decisions will make employees happy, and that communication and transparency are key to navigating this. Noting that all employees generally want the same things: To do meaningful work, to feel a part of something bigger, and to see the company succeed, Sisco said, “If you build trust with your employees when times are good, that trust will carry through when times are challenging and you have to make some tradeoffs.”
Measuring the impact of these investments is important to understanding what matters to employees and can help shape future decisions about where to focus dollars. One way that Workday measures impact of investment decisions on culture is through employee surveys, including company-wide surveys and shorter, more frequent “pulse” surveys that provide quick insight into the health of the company.