Sector News

Peacocking, newskilling and digital detox: 9 new workplace trends CFOs must know

May 31, 2024
Borderless Leadership

Business school may not help finance professionals keep up with and strategize around workplace trends. Big Four firms probably don’t offer a classes on up-to-date terminology and Gen-Z office behavior. But with the CFO role expanding to increasing leadership responsibilities, finance chiefs must be aware of what outside factors play into how their teams approach and handle day-to-day work.

Below are nine new trends currently making their way through workplaces that CFOs should be cognizant of.

1. BYOAI’ing
With three-quarters of employees admitting they use AI at work, many are taking the approach of bringing your own AI (BYOAI) to work. CFOs who don’t think their teams are using chatbots to help with daily tasks are falling drastically behind.

Even if the company isn’t sold on the technology’s viability to the business, guidelines and processes about how these tools are used should be at the forefront of every company concerned about private information being exposed to the public space.

2. Office peacocking
This term can describe both individual employees and the company as a whole. On an individual level, someone is office peacocking when they’re making cringe-worthy efforts to be recognized or garner attention among leaders and peers. An unusual amount of possessions or self-aggrandizing trinkets on your desk might earn you the title of office peacock too.

At the organizational level, a company can office peacock when they fill a workspace with over-the-top decor, furniture, workspaces, etc. What we at CFO have dubbed the “foosball table fallacy,” younger workers have already made clear they are not drawn to those types of work spaces.

3. Quiet vacationing
Taking a vacation unbeknownst to your boss, or quiet vacationing, is the latest trend to appear from the hybrid and remote work model. Regardless of whether you offer a set number of days off or an unlimited PTO model, some of your employees, especially millennials who have become accustomed to this type of flexibility, may be vacationing quietly during scheduled work hours.

4. Dry promotion
This terms means taking on a new role without a salary bump. Employees who are told to take on new responsibilities now with hopes of a raise later, or who have taken on the responsibility themselves, may find that they’ve earned themselves a dry promotion. For young CPAs, this can be remarkably familiar.

5. Digital detox
Don’t be surprised if you’re told a story sometime soon about a leader being handed a doctor’s note saying their patient — your employee — must digitally unplug for a set period for the sake of their health. A digital detox, or abstinence from using smartphones or laptops, has been shown to improve a host of self-image and esteem problems, work ethic issues, productivity at work, and circadian rhythm.

6. Reverse mentoring
Having a lower-level employee guide a higher-level employee, a concept known as reverse mentoring, is a not-so-new concept that has been trending in recent months.

For CFOs, whose rapidly changing roles are sometimes being filled by a dwindling number of high-performing CPAs, taking on a reverse mentorship may help build rapport with your finance team and provide a learning opportunity from someone who only knows a work environment containing AI, hybrid work, digital communication, and more.

7. Newskilling
The term newskilling surfaced at Gartner’s CFO event this week. As managing editor Andy Burt put it, “it’s exactly as it sounds, but differentiated from upskilling in the sense that it’s looking at a finance professional’s toolbox and adding something completely unrelated — GenAI, programming, data science, etc. — rather than just building on an existing skill.”

Considering the ways in which adding new skills have been approached, especially when it comes to the favorable treatment of executives in AI training, providing learning opportunities at all levels of management may help productivity and engagement levels across the board.

8. Microlearning
Creating bite-sized bits of content to drive learning among a group, otherwise known as microlearning, can be extremely beneficial for leaders looking to efficiently upskill their employees. Rather than provide costly training or deep dives into topics, some leaders have engaged in offering tidbits of information — as short as five minutes of insights — to help balance learning and engagement.

In a media landscape of reels and short attention spans, this is a potentially useful way to provide upskilling opportunities for younger employees without overwhelming them.

9. Shadow policy
Giving an employee a special arrangement or a loophole through the rules has been referred to as a shadow policy. While this isn’t a new idea, it has been emphasized in conversations around work-life balance. Letting an employee leave early to get kids from school, allowing them to skip out on a “mandatory” meeting or letting them expense a meal as a favor are all examples of these types of policies.

by Adam Zaki


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