Global premium fashion brand Hugo Boss faced some challenges two years ago when the number of vacancies continued to increase in the finance team despite the company’s growth, and long-serving employees retired.
As with many other companies at the time, Hugo Boss was struggling to attract talent for finance, and the natural staff turnover only added to the problem.
Senior vice president of Group Finance and Tax, Katharina Herzog recognised the need for a unique approach to attracting and retaining top talent within her team.
Speaking to the CFO, Herzog recalls the volume of CVs for open positions remained low. With the finance community at Hugo Boss operating across 60 subsidiaries worldwide and comprising approximately 400 team members (with 70 members based in Germany where Herzog is located), she knew the business needed a unique approach fix their talent pipeline.
“You cannot avoid turnover in your team,” says Herzog, explaining that Hugo Boss’ leadership were aware it had been “really hard to attract new finance talent as the talent pool is empty.”
“And if it’s not empty, you compete with ten other companies for the very same talent. So how can you attract the talent to join exactly your company? It starts with inspiring them,” she says.
With a strategic and innovative approach, Herzog and her team created a finance talent game plan that aligned with their long-term business goals. This plan included a finance employer branding campaign, tapping into social media, and simplifying the task ahead.
An all-hands-on-deck approach
Herzog recognised the company’s human resources department alone could not solve their talent acquisition problem. Looking to be proactive, she turned to social media, particularly LinkedIn, to share stories of the company’s everyday life and give potential candidates an inside look into what the business did day-to-day.
“I shared a lot of stories from our everyday life in the finance team give potentially interested candidates an effective first impression of what we do,” says Herzog.
Additionally, Herzog’s team collaborates with universities in Germany through guest lectures, case studies, and internships, while also building in-house talent to inspire individuals to join the company.
At Hugo Boss, the recruitment process is extensive, with an emphasis on getting to know the team and a 360-degree view of the future role.
Herzog suggests starting a customized pre-boarding process before the person joins, allowing them to participate in team activities and share updates to build a sense of belonging.
“Let new people participate in what keeps the team busy, share updates, and communicate frequently about the future responsibility,” she says, adding that making the person “bond” with the team and wider company is key for retention.
So far, this strategy has been successful, with the company filling 15 positions in finance last year with only one remaining unfilled due to the high demand for a tax position in transfer pricing.
Herzog cautions finance teams not to lower their hiring standards despite the competitive job market and talent shortage.
She says rushing to fill a position with an unsuitable candidate can lead to disappointments on both sides, company and candidate, and ultimately higher costs due to a possible re-stat of the recruiting process.
Hugo Boss experienced this first-hand when they had a vacant position in one finance team for more than six months, and despite interviewing several candidates, they were not convinced they had found the right fit.
However, after implementing new active sourcing strategies, they found an international candidate who they believe is a good match.
Herzog emphasises CFOs should take a hands-on approach to attracting top talent for finance roles, recognising that it’s not just HR’s responsibility.
By leveraging their financial expertise and industry knowledge, CFOs can collaborate with HR to identify and attract the best talent available, establishing themselves as industry leaders and helping their company thrive.