Stress in the workplace is an ongoing issue for everyone, but the top of the corporate ladder is no safe harbor from work worries. CFOs have challenges that go beyond managing their company financials, whether they’re dealing with critical deadlines, conflicts with coworkers, or finding the right people for their finance and accounting teams.
“The daily stressors CFOs face at the office often follow them home,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half. “Most employees have lost sleep over work worries, but financial executives have the added responsibility of making sure everyone — including themselves — is performing up to par.”
Discover new research from Robert Half Financial & Accounting that shows just what pressures are showing up in the C-suite.
Here are eight actions CFOs can take now to help reduce job stress later, both for themselves and for their employees:
1. Recruit the right people for the job
All managers can decrease stress in the workplace by hiring and building capable teams. Whether you’re looking for a financial analyst, staff accountant or any other finance and accounting employee, you know about this industry’s demand for top talent and the struggle to land new hires.
A specialized recruiting firm can help you assess your staffing needs and streamline the hiring process.
2. Motivate and recognize your team
Once you have your team in place, make sure to engage your team and reward job performance. Each employee will respond to different motivational techniques at work, but everyone likes to hear when they're doing a good job. Don't hold back on genuine praise, which can go a long way to lowering stress levels. Consider low-cost ways to offer employee recognition.
3. Conduct effective meetings
Hold a team meeting immediately upon completing a deadline for all major efforts, including year-end, so everyone can celebrate what worked and vent about what didn’t work. By hearing what employees have to say and documenting all the issues raised, you not only help to alleviate your team’s stress, you also create a foundation for action plans to make important process improvements.
4. Address issues while they’re fresh
Workplace conflicts rarely go away on their own, and most will fester over time. If you feel tension with colleagues, reach out to them and work through whatever is causing their stress. Prioritize relationship-building. Invite coworkers to coffee or lunch and learn about their job challenges and areas of expertise.
5. Be more proactive with planning
By mapping out your day-to-day operations along with new initiatives a bit further in advance for each upcoming quarter, your team has a better chance of anticipating challenges and setting realistic goals for their workflow. Then when year-end rolls around, everyone will be better-equipped with the resources and energy needed to manage the additional workload and meet the deadlines without all the stress.
6. Assess your training and technology needs
Now is the time to analyze the effectiveness of your finance and accounting operations – from each team member’s skill sets to the software and technology you depend upon. Look for changes that could have a positive impact on the year-end process overall, such as automating a manual procedure, upgrading computers, evaluating workloads, or sending your staff to a professional development conference.
7. Revisit your corporate culture
Are you cultivating a positive environment where employees feel respected and rewarded for their hard work? Are they fully aware of the company’s big picture and what part their role plays in your business strategies? When people feel truly connected to the company, they will give a little more when you need it. A strong corporate culture means everyone is committed to achieving the benefits of success, and they also fully understand the consequences of failure.
8. Take breaks from workplace stress
Taking time off from the job can help you recharge, and lunches and quick walks outside can refresh you for the rest of your day. Consider thanking your team with a few stress-reducing perks, like a professional neck and shoulder massage at the desk or an extra day of comp time. Adding to your work-life balance can do wonders to setting a good example for lowering stress levels.
Every step you take now can go miles toward making for a much smoother journey for your entire organization. You can ease the workplace stress — and get some sleep at the same time!
This post was published in 2014 and updated recently to reflect new information.