Your accounting and finance teams certainly look attentive as they meet with clients, take phone calls and plug away at their projects. But appearances may be deceiving.
A Robert Half survey of workers found that respondents are disengaged about one-quarter (26 percent) of the time that they are on the job. If your employees are checking out for a couple hours or more every day, your department’s productivity and efficiency can obviously suffer.
So, how can you reduce worker disengagement and help your accounting and finance teams feel more in the game and motivated to excel? Every employee is different, so there’s no single solution. But applying all or some of the following five ideas below, which are based on workers’ responses to our recent survey, could have a positive impact on most everyone in your organization.
Better perks (and more balance)
How can better perks reduce worker disengagement? Look at it this way: The more you can do for your staff, the more they will feel valued. That, in turn, can make them want to work harder for the firm. And a healthy percentage of workers who responded to our survey — 37 percent — said they believe upgraded perks would, in fact, help them to feel more engaged at work.
What type of perks are most employees looking for? According to the Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals, the three most coveted perks are flexible work schedules, compressed workweeks and telecommuting options. Essentially, most professionals are looking for opportunities to find better work-life balance.
More paid time off is another perk to consider for your staff members — and that includes newer hires. The Salary Guide reports that today’s job seekers are expecting employers to offer an average of 14 days of paid time off per year. However, most companies are only offering 10 days, on average, to employees who have less than five years’ tenure with the organization.
More challenging work
Nearly a third (31 percent) of workers surveyed said they’d be more engaged on the job if their assignments were more interesting. To help ensure your accounting and finance staff members aren’t feeling bored, offer them new assignments and diverse work opportunities whenever possible. They will no doubt welcome the chance to expand their skills and experience further.
Just be careful not to overwhelm them. Find out how your employees feel about their current assignments and workload volume before adding more to their to-do lists. Perhaps you’ll discover opportunities to automate some routine tasks — like reconciliation and report generation — so your staff members will have more time to engage in value-adding work for the firm.
While every position has its share of routine processes, a savvy manager will make sure those tasks do not constitute the bulk of any finance team member’s duties. Also, it’s important to let employees know exactly how their work makes an impact on the bottom line. Research by Robert Half Management Resources shows there is a strong chance that many workers aren’t making this important connection: More than half of professionals (53 percent) surveyed said they wish they had more insight on how their day-to-day duties make a difference to the organization.
The need to jump through hoops and navigate red tape, day in and day out, just to get basic work done is enough to make anyone want to check out. And in our survey on worker disengagement, 31 percent of respondents said too much bureaucracy is a drag that drives them to distraction.
As a department leader, there’s a lot you can do to help reduce bureaucracy. Review approval procedures to see where you could eliminate a step or two from a sign-off process, for example. You could also empower your team to make certain decisions without having to check in with management. Fewer hassles help employees enjoy their work more — and be more productive.
Twenty-two percent of respondents to our worker disengagement survey pointed to too much work as the main reason that they disengage while on the job. Temporarily “disconnecting” at work is how some people cope when under pressure.
A manageable workload can do a lot to increase your employees’ morale and job satisfaction. You may need to enlist extra help to reduce the pressure that can easily lead to worker disengagement.
Consider bringing in interim professionals to ease the burden on your full-time employees during peak periods, such as tax season and the end-of-year close, when everyone is putting in extra hours to get the job done. Or, if a large initiative requires more specialized support, or your organization needs to plow through a backlog of work or rethink key processes, you might want to look into a managed services option.
More team building
Help your accounting and finance staff build camaraderie with their coworkers. Social activities can go a long way toward reducing worker disengagement. It also helps to create a corporate culture that attracts top talent. In fact, 22 percent of professionals surveyed by Robert Half say more frequent social outings with their team members would increase their engagement at work.
Here are some easy-to-implement team-building activities that will help bring people together without busting your firm’s budget:
- Catered lunch on the last Friday of the month, with pub-like trivia quizzes
- Monthly trips to the bowling alley, with free pizza and drinks for your employees
- Working on community service projects together, such as building homes or organizing food supplies for families in need
- An annual staff retreat at a local state park, followed by a picnic and fun activities
For the best results, try to implement as many of the above ideas as possible. (Consider polling your staff first to see which ideas appeal to them most.) Even though it can take time, budget and a little creativity to keep your accounting and finance staff members feeling engaged, the effort — and ongoing investment — will result in a more motivated and happier workplace.