A study by British market research institute YouGov and Fintech company Spendesk shows a serious lack of employee satisfaction in finance teams of small and medium-sized companies in the UK, France and Germany. Departments such as controlling and accounting particularly complain about manual work processes, overwork, and a lack of digitalisation. As a result, many highly qualified workers want to quit their jobs, creating uncertainty for employers.

According to the survey by YouGov and Spendesk, 42 percent of respondents in the UK and France have plans to change jobs in the near future. German respondents were only slightly lower at 37 percent. This development is alarming for companies at a time when highly qualified staff are already in short supply. Employees under 35 years of age are particularly dissatisfied: 52 percent of UK respondents are planning to change jobs, with even higher figures in Germany (59%) and France (56%).

Dissatisfaction due to bulky workflows

A major issue seems to be the workload in finance teams, which is rated as the biggest problem by 23% of respondents. Only 22% find the typical workload easy to handle. Respondents from German companies in particular also complained about a lack of automation, which confirms the common assumption that there is an urgent need to speed up digitalisation in Germany. The high number of low-value tasks is another obstacle often mentioned by respondents across all countries.

It is therefore not surprising that one-fifth of respondents feel they fulfill tasks that offer no added value to their company. Accordingly, the desire for more digitalisation is great, especially in the area of common financial processes such as reporting or invoice management. Only a third of respondents, for example, stated that they use software to manage invoices; the majority of processes in companies are still manual: using telephone, chat or email.

Wasted time and increased risk for errors

Cumbersome workflows and manual finance management also mean a significant loss of working time. One third of respondents said they spend one to three hours a week on manual work and tasks such as collecting receipts, expense reports and invoice management. Another third spends as much as three to eight hours a week on this, and 8 percent even say they spend at least one whole working day a week on it. Only 25 percent of the respondents have digitalised these processes, although in the UK the percentage is slightly higher (30%) than in other countries.

This has an impact on employee productivity: 21 percent assess their work as adding little or no value for their business, and only 40 percent invest most of their working time contributing to the company’s growth. The burden of manual processes also regularly leads to errors, delays and budget overruns, according to more than half of the finance teams surveyed.

A new understanding of the finance role

If asked where they would prefer to spend their time, finance teams would prioritise networking, training, and team development. A third of respondents also no longer see themselves exclusively as number crunchers, but would like to prove themselves as strategic business partners. Younger employees in particular strive to get away from manual finance management and to contribute their knowledge to the growth and success of the company.

The full report on the YouGov study is available for download here: