What does the workforce of the future want?

How to align finance and controllership with future talent

The controllership function is facing new challenges as it evolves its approach to attracting and enriching the workforce of the future. By aligning the work with the new generation of talent and creating a genuinely dynamic, responsive finance function, organizations can effectively manage this future workforce and optimize the function for the future of finance.

April 21, 2023

A blog post by Beth Kaplan, Jarret Meyers and Gavin Kostoglian

A few years ago, finance leaders were already building what many considered a workforce of the future. But then the pandemic swept the globe, and geopolitics, social unrest, and other disruptions seemingly changed the world overnight. Now, organizations are facing new challenges as they evolve their approach to attracting and enriching the workforce of the future amid disruption and transformation. Creating a genuinely dynamic, responsive finance function will require a realignment for effectively managing this future workforce. But what do finance workers want? How has the changing world shifted the new generation of talent? And what can organizations do to ensure the workforce aligns with work to realize maximum value?

To answer these questions, we looked at the trends highlighting the desires of the future workforce and the lessons learned during transformation. From there, we explored insights and strategies that may help organizations respond to these needs, address talent challenges, empower their workforce, and guide initiatives for leaders to forge the finance organization of the future now and beyond the horizon.

Meet the new finance workforce

Three major shifts in the future of work are impacting finance and the workforce.

  1. The shift in work: New technology is driving changes to the way work is done.
  2. The shift in the workforce: The Great Resignation and burnout created new expectations and worker preferences.
  3. The shift in the workplace: The pandemic and significant disruption are driving changes to where and how work is done.

In Deloitte’s Crunch time report: The finance workforce of now, we looked at how finance leaders can evolve the work, workforce, and workplace to meet their workers’ needs and the demands of what the future might hold. To do so, we first asked, what do workers want? Here is what they said:

  • Flexibility: The pandemic opened the possibilities of flexible work environments, and workers want the option to work remotely or within a hybrid model.
  • Compensation and recognition: Workers want leadership to better appreciate job difficulties and offer more compensation for the value added to organizations.
  • Career growth and opportunities: Workers want standardized performance management processes, mentorship opportunities, regular feedback to iterate and improve performance, and more opportunities for growth.
  • Meaningful work: Workers don’t just want to punch in and punch out. They want to make an impact on clients and the community, and they want to add value beyond the bottom line. In short, workers want flexible, meaningful, and valuable work.

How organizations can align with the workforce of the future

From the shifts in the workforce and the talent challenges they present, valuable lessons learned (so far) may guide leaders to reimagine a finance function more in alignment with the current and future finance workforce.

A path forward now and into the future

Finding a way forward means solving for two horizons. The first horizon is addressing the most pressing talent needs. Think of the next six months. What steps should you take now to better enable your virtual or hybrid workforce to be effective, efficient, and empowered in everyday work? What digital tools can you begin to introduce into the environment? What challenges have minimal hurdles to solve? Here are some actions you can consider as you work to solve your most pressing talent needs and challenges:

  • Ask and listen to understand needs
  • Focus employees on higher-value work
  • Connect workers to purpose and meaning
  • Offer flexibility and set expectations
  • Develop your team and your leader pipeline
  • Help managers during these difficult times

The second horizon is reimagining your workforce six months and beyond. Think of this as what you should do to support your organization’s ambition for the future of work, the workforce, and the workplace. How will your choices sustain your competitive advantage in the wake of the Great Resignation and the changing relationship between workers and organizations? How can you build from the lessons learned from transformation? The second horizon (and beyond) is about reimagining the finance work, workforce, and workplace of now.

Three primary enterprise service delivery goals

Reimagine work: Humans and machines

Rather than forcing workers to fit the needs of the technology, technology should augment the work that only humans can do, helping them do more strategic work that adds value. With the right human-to-technology relationship, organizations can both do the same, more efficiently, and do more to add value.

Reimagine the workforce: Finance as storyteller

The pandemic accelerated the need for finance to be a key pillar of an organization’s strategic decision-making and develop the ability to be a storyteller at all levels of the business and to different stakeholders. Without it, a workforce may have less connection with the work and its organization’s purpose. By building a finance team that goes beyond the numbers, finance can tell the story of an organization’s future.

Reimagine the workplace: Flexible but connected

Between virtual and in-person workplace environments, most organizations are falling somewhere in the middle, offering an ecosystem of hybrid work. New methods of physical workspaces, such as offices for a day or hoteling methods, also continue to emerge. Gathering for moments that matter will always be important, but expect hybrid work to stick around for the long term. Reimagine the office, both the virtual and physical, with the objectives of creating connection, promoting collaboration, increasing productivity, and driving culture.



To meet your finance workforce where they are, it all comes down to one word: reimagine. To build the capability for your finance organization to do something different and future-forward, and to align with new talent that wants to align with their organization—take a step back and reimagine your workforce, the work they do, where they do it, and why they should want to keep doing it.

To explore further insights into the workforce of the future and how to address the challenges of new and emerging talent, listen to our Dbriefs webcast series: What do workers want? Aligning with the workforce of the future.

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