The world of accounting and finance is filled with stressors, from regulatory compliance issues to rapidly evolving business demands. Stress can be good at times, driving your staff to be even more productive and embrace a “we’re all in this together” attitude to meet objectives and cross the project finish line. But when the workplace stress level becomes too intense and sustained, employees can suffer — and potentially, burn out.
As a manager, there’s a lot you can do to help ease the pressure on your employees. Here are seven ways to reduce workplace stress for your accounting and finance team:
1. Plan meetings with efficiency in mind
When employees face pressing deadlines and impatient clients, the last thing they want is to be pulled away from their work for a meeting that isn’t a good use of their time. So, before scheduling meetings with your team, be sure to you ask yourself the following three questions:
Is this meeting really necessary?
If you need to impart routine or non-urgent information, consider using memos or emails that workers can read on their own time. Save meetings for sharing significant news or critical project updates, brainstorming, or hashing out issues that are undermining team productivity.
Who needs to attend?
Be strategic with your attendee list. Don’t invite the entire team when only a few key players are needed.
What’s the agenda?
Every meeting should have a clear purpose. Outline the topics and who will discuss what (and for how long). Let attendees know the agenda a few days in advance so that they can prepare. These steps will help your workers be more engaged in meetings — and less stressed about taking time out of their day.
Tip: Videoconferences can be just as disruptive to an employee’s workday as in-person meetings, so take care not to schedule these meetups too often during the workweek — or for too long. And if your team members don’t want to turn on their video camera sometimes, avoid making an issue of it. On days that your workers are feeling stressed, they may not be feeling camera-ready, either.
Check out this post for tips on virtual meeting etiquette.
2. Promote wellness at work
Promoting wellness in the workplace can help your employees get in the right mindset to meet the challenges the workday brings. Healthy people are typically better able to weather stress than those who are less mindful about their overall wellness or don’t have enough time to focus on it.
You may need to give your team members a nudge to take advantage of wellness resources your organization provides to employees, though. Research for Robert Half’s latest Salary Guide found that most employers are offering physical and mental health benefits, like stress-reduction programs, to their employees, but only about a third of workers are using them.
So, make a point to encourage your employees to devote ample time during the workweek to focus on their wellness and take advantage of any company-provided benefits that may be available to them.
3. Offer flexible work arrangements
Many companies are trying to figure out right now what type of workforce model they want to maintain for the long term: remote, hybrid or in-office. One thing is clear: Whatever they choose, they should consider providing flexible work arrangements to their employees if they want to hold onto their top talent.
According to research for Robert Half’s Salary Guide, the perk employees want the most is a flexible work schedule. Not far behind is the ability to work remotely. Our research also shows that many employers are already stepping up to offer remote work arrangements, flextime and compressed workweeks.
The ability to maintain a flexible schedule can go a long way toward helping your team members manage their workplace stress more effectively. It can be a simple way to keep staff productive while helping you retain your best people, too. In a recent Robert Half survey, professionals who said they plan to look for a new job in the next six months said the ability to work remotely permanently is a top motivation for their decision to make a move.
4. Enhance collaboration with tech tools
A company culture that values — and enables — collaboration and connectivity for all employees can create a more positive work environment. Workers who feel disconnected and isolated within an organization can experience heightened stress and low morale.
Look for technology tools that can improve communication, encourage idea-sharing and help drive innovative thinking across your remote or hybrid team. Also, make sure your team has the resources they need to learn new tools and address any technical issues quickly. That can help reduce workplace stress for your staff, while keeping your finance department running optimally.
5. Bring in reinforcements
Accounting and finance professionals are under more strain than usual at certain times of the year, such as during tax season or the year-end close. Special projects can create pressure, too. Most accounting and finance organizations only have enough staff in place to handle day-to-day responsibilities. And adding just one unexpected assignment to the to-do list could quickly lead to work overload.
If you want to reduce workplace stress for your employees, be proactive about providing them with extra support when needed. Make room in your budget for augmenting your core team with contract professionals during peak periods or for projects that require specialized skills that you lack in-house.
Need to hire remote or on-site talent? Robert Half can help. Learn more.
6. Assess your own work habits
If you want to reduce workplace stress for your accounting and finance staff, setting a good example can help. Are you always working late? Do you send department-wide emails on weekend mornings? When did you last take some time off?
Your employees are paying close attention to your habits — and following your lead. If you’re constantly working rather than taking time to focus on yourself, they will do likewise. So, take a good look at your everyday practices and, if necessary, make some adjustments to help reduce your own stress levels.
7. Foster open communication
Companies have experienced a great deal of change over the past few years due to the global health crisis. All this disruption and uncertainty has been a tremendous source of stress for workers. But many employees are hesitant to share their feelings about stress openly. They may worry that others, including their boss, will think they are unable to handle their job responsibilities.
So, as a final tip for reducing stress for your accounting and finance staff, strive to create a workplace where all employees know they can raise a hand if they’re feeling overwhelmed. Promote a positive organizational culture that values honesty and empathy. Let employees know they are always free to ask for help or express their concerns — and be heard and supported, too.
Again, not all stress is bad. By helping your staff to maintain the right balance between pressure and productivity, your reward will be a team that has a positive outlook and gets more done.