Compensation, work/life balance and location are the top attraction drivers for finance function employees, according to a survey of finance staff in the fourth quarter of 2023 by Gartner.

“Compensation is usually the top attraction driver and one of the main challenges CFOs have with retaining talent. Our survey showed that only 43% of finance employees are satisfied with compensation,” says Shannon Cole, senior director analyst: research, in the Gartner Finance practice.

“The importance of work/life balance and location as attraction drivers should give CFOs pause for thought about the potential challenges that may arise from return-to-office mandates.”

After compensation, work/life balance and location, health benefits and vacation were the next most cited attraction drivers among finance employees.

“Fifty-eight percent of finance employees say they are happy with location, the attraction driver they are happiest with in the top five,” says Cole. “However, this perspective may change as more companies increase their expectations around employee time spent in the office.”

Gartner experts caution that while return-to-office mandates do generate marginal increases to discretionary effort and employee engagement, they are likely to reduce intent to stay by a larger amount, particularly so among high-performing employees (-16%) and women (-11%).

“Finance employees have high confidence in the labour market right now. Moving away from a flexible working model will likely make it harder for finance leaders to attract new staff and comes with a significant attrition risk,” says Cole. “Finance leaders should weigh the pros and cons rather than assume a return to previous ways of working is the right thing to do.”

Given that employees are confident in the labor market and prone to job-seeking behavior, maintaining an organisation’s competitiveness on the top attraction drivers will be key to both recruitment and retention of staff in 2024.

“Given the prevalence of hybrid working models since the pandemic, it can be argued that four of the top five attraction drivers for finance staff all relate to the employees’ lives outside their offices,” says Cole. “Aside from offering market-beating pay, paying close attention to the employee value proposition when they are not in the workplace should drive better attraction and retention.”