The Work-Life Balance To-Do List for Accounting and Finance Leaders

By Robert Half December 15, 2017 at 11:03pm

An employee’s ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance can have a direct and positive impact on that person's productivity and job satisfaction. It also can help motivate that professional to stay with their current organization for the long term.

Findings from a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey suggest that many managers understand the importance of helping their employees achieve better work-life balance. More than half (52 percent) of workers interviewed said say they are better able to juggle personal and professional responsibilities today than three years ago. And a strong majority of the respondents — 91 percent — report that their supervisor supports those efforts.

However, even if you are confident that you already do a good job helping your accounting and finance team to strike the right balance between their professional and personal responsibilities and interests, there’s likely room for improvement. The following to-do list can help you ensure that work-life balance is a top focus for your business in the year ahead:

To-do #1: Ask for feedback

If you want to better understand your employees’ wants and needs, just ask them. If some team members don’t feel comfortable opening up to their supervisor, use a questionnaire with the option to remain anonymous. The more you know about what your employees require for better work-life balance, the more you can help.

To-do #2: Reach out to tenured staff

If you manage a multigenerational team, you may find that employees from different age demographics feel differently about their ability to maintain work-life balance. For example, in our recent survey, twice as many millennial respondents cited improvement in their work-life balance compared to those age 55 and up.

So, if you have baby boomer team members, you may want to proactively suggest ways that they can achieve better balance. Perhaps they’d benefit from a sabbatical? Or maybe they’d like to gradually cut back their hours and move into a consulting role as they transition into retirement?

To-do #3: Emphasize outcomes, not hours

When employees put in long hours and sacrifice personal time, you may be tempted to lavish them with praise and even a bonus. Well-intended as these gestures are, they can be counterproductive, as you’re rewarding effort and not necessarily results. Instead, save the accolades and incentives for outcomes, and be quick to recognize staff members who meet their goals through strong technical and time management skills.

To-do #4: Lead by example

When you email your accounting and finance team on a Sunday or late at night for non-urgent matters, you’re also sending an unspoken message: I’m working on the weekend, and you should, too. No matter how much you talk up the importance of work-life balance, it does no good when your actions say something else. Let your employees enjoy their personal time, free from having to worry about checking messages.

The same goes for vacations. If you’re plugged into work when you’re supposed to be relaxing, your staff will feel pressured to follow suit during their vacations.

To-do #5: Urge workers to use their paid time off

Speaking of vacations … some companies still allow their employees to roll over and stockpile their vacation days. That policy may seem like a benefit, but it does your team a disservice. Accounting and finance staff really do need to check out from work periodically. Otherwise, they risk burning out — and you risk losing top performers.

To-do #6: Bring in interim professionals

Not all workweeks are created equal. Year-end, tax season and reporting deadlines can easily overload accounting and finance employees and throw their work-life balance out of whack. One way to support your full-time staff during these stressful work periods is to engage interim professionals who can lend a helping hand.

To-do #7: Give the gift of time

Gifts of time, like an extra vacation day or a Friday afternoon off following a big project or heavy work period, can also help your team to maintain better work-life balance. (No doubt, your workers will greatly appreciate these small but valuable "bonuses.")

And don’t forget about the holiday season. If your company experiences a natural slowdown between Christmas and New Year’s Day, consider closing the office that entire week. That way your team can fully unplug from work, enjoy the holidays, and come back to work feeling recharged and refreshed.

To-do #8: Communicate and educate

Don’t let “work-life balance” be little more than a buzz phrase at your firm. Find other ways, big and small, to demonstrate to employees that the business takes this issue seriously. Some ideas include:

  • Promoting your company’s work-life balance perks in memos and newsletters.
  • Offering resources to help new parents before and after their leave.
  • Setting up brown-bag lunch sessions to discuss time management and wellness. If your budget allows, consider inviting expert speakers to present on these topics.
  • Maintaining an open-door policy so that your workers feel free to discuss work-life balance issues with you.

These eight to-dos can help you keep your accounting and finance team’s morale and job satisfaction running high. You can foster a corporate culture where work-life balance is a clear priority — and employees know they have management’s full support to achieve it.

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