Feeling Stress in the Workplace? You’re in the Majority

By Robert Half February 1, 2017 at 5:00pm

Looming deadlines, overlapping priorities, the ever-recurring monthly close, quarterly financial statements and tax time — it’s no wonder accounting and finance professionals are feeling stress in the workplace.

Not only is stress on the job common, but it’s on the rise, according to an Accountemps survey. More than half (52 percent) of workers said they are stressed at work on a day-to-day basis, and six out of 10 reported work-related pressure has increased in the last five years.

If you’re a manager or CFO, asking your team to do more work with fewer resources can lead to diminishing returns. If you work for a manager or CFO, the heavier the workload, the more it can add to stress, as you try to balance demands of the job with personal responsibilities.

Who feels work-related stress most?

  • Millennials — Of the 18- to 34-year-olds who responded to the survey, 64 percent admitted to being stressed on the job, compared with 59 percent of respondents from 35 to 54 and only 35 percent of those age 55 and older.

  • Men More than half (57 percent) of men said they are stressed every day at work, and for women, it’s 47 percent.

  • Midwest and East Coast city dwellers CFOs reported the most stressed staff in these five cities (and in this order): Salt Lake City, Boston and Des Moines (tied), Cleveland and New York.

View this slideshow, which shows just how much common stress on the job has become.

    Employees: What can you do?

    Accounting and finance professionals said they combat stress at work with exercise — yoga, walking and running, especially. They also spend time with friends or partners after work, listen to music, go on vacations and engage in a hobby, such as gardening and reading.

    You can also do these four things:

    1. Reach out for help. Bill Driscoll, a district president for Accountemps, says workers can seek advice from their managers on how to meet work expectations. If your to-do list is never-ending, it’s possible you have too much on your plate.

    2. Take control of your schedule. Some of the ways you can do that are to keep track of how you’re doing with time management, prioritize your tasks, block your calendar and delegate.

    3. Get up from your chair. Breaks at work are good for you, so try to stretch every hour, take the stairs instead of the elevator and stand during conference calls.

    4. Maximize your workday. There are ways to get more out of your day so you can reward yourself at the end. One of them is to “just say ‘no!’” Get more ideas in 15 Tips to Boost Productivity in the Workplace.

    Managers: Is it time for reinforcements?

    First of all, if you’re a manager, you can lower your stress with the tips above. You can also take advantage of these tips for taking a vacation that's a true escape from work.

    But how do you know when you’ve reached a breaking point of stress in the workplace because of a too-lean workforce? Here are eight signs it may be time to expand your team with a new hire:

    1. You’re missing growth opportunities. You have sufficient financial resources to pursue new business, but your staff can’t handle the stepped-up workload it would entail — so you wait instead of growing.

    2. New business isn't making you smile. Maybe you secured a new account, but instead of celebrating, you or your employees are worrying about how to get it all done.

    3. Even top performers can't keep up. Communication with your ace employees is suffering, and they’re missing deadlines constantly.

    4. Overtime is becoming the norm. It isn’t just around peak seasons or big projects anymore. Overtime has become the rule rather than the exception, and work is starting to invade the home space.

    5. You're pitching in too often. Good managers know when to roll up their sleeves and pitch in, but now you’re doing the work of three employees.

    6. Staff members are out sick more often. Your team is using plenty of sick days, and not just for sleeping in. Overwhelming workloads may be impacting their health.

    7. Errors are on the rise. In a rush to get all the work done, your team is making more mistakes than in the past. When pressed, they explain they just don’t have time to re-check their work before moving on.

    8. Clients are noticing. Dissatisfied customers are speaking up more often about missed deadlines, poor work quality and spotty communication.

    If you’re encountering any of these signs of stress in the workplace, you can help by bringing in reinforcements. Using a combination of full-time employees and highly skilled temporary accounting and finance professionals can help you staff up or down cost-effectively, in response to business demand.

    With so much to do and time running short, it’s easy for your staff to fall behind. Some managers don’t have a clue and fail to notice. Make sure you don’t fall into that trap.

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