This year we revamped the survey to explore some new and exciting areas where we think important changes may be occurring, and renamed it to reflect its wider remit. So what does the survey tell us about charity finance professionals in 2013, and what can charities learn from this?
1. They have a wide range of responsibilities
This year’s survey enabled us, for the first time, to put figures to a trend which we’ve heard anecdotally for some time – that the remit of many finance teams is expanding. Senior finance professionals are most likely to have responsibilities beyond the finance function – 67% of finance directors reported being responsible for IT, 63% for legal affairs and 51% for facilities and property management - and many junior staff have a wide remit too. Respondents spent, on average, 30% of their time on strategy and development as opposed to operational tasks, suggesting that organisations are increasingly recognising the valuable insight finance professionals can bring to the table in this area.
2. They’re hard working
The expanding remit of many finance professionals may partly account for the expanding workload reported by many respondents. 41% said that their workload had increased during the economic downturn and more than 8 in 10 usually work more than their contracted hours, with 50% of finance directors usually working at least 20% extra – equivalent of one extra day each week. 48% were not compensated for this additional time, and a further 38% were entitled to time off in lieu but did not usually take it all.
3. They enjoy their jobs
Nonetheless, job satisfaction remains remarkably high – more than 80% of respondents said they were fairly or very satisfied with their job overall, with those in larger charities particularly satisfied in spite of working, on average, the longest hours. More than 90% felt they were making a difference and 97% felt they understood the role they played in delivering the organisation’s objectives. Job satisfaction was also higher among those who spent more of their time on strategy and development, as opposed to operational tasks.
4. They’re keen to achieve more
Over 80% of respondents felt they would particularly benefit from training in at least one area, with strategy and development the area where most sought additional training (43% of respondents). Surprisingly, perhaps, this was considerably higher than the proportion who felt they would particularly benefit from additional training in core financial skills (33%), perhaps reflecting the widening remit of finance staff. One in four felt their current role did not make the best use of their skills and abilities.
So what does this all mean for charities?
The expanding remit of finance teams and increasing involvement across their organisations is a welcome development, and should help organisations maximise their output from limited resources; the acceleration of this process is perhaps a ‘silver lining’ of the economic downturn. However, to ensure that employees remain productive it will be vital to ensure that job satisfaction remains high. While expanding staffing levels to reduce workload or increasing employees’ salaries is, for many charities, not feasible in the current economic climate, there are other things charities can do to help keep job satisfaction high at a time when many staff are under high pressure. Investing in training can help to keep morale high as well as increasing a team’s output; offering flexible hours or the option to work from home could help improve work-life balance; and involving staff in strategy and development where possible should help them to feel valued as well as ensuring an informed and democratic decision-making process.
This year’s survey was kindly sponsored by MHA. Post by Douglas Hull, policy and membership officer at CFG.
Edited August 2018
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