5 Actions to Take Now to Reduce Year-End Stress Later

Workplace stress is an ongoing issue for everyone, but finance and accounting teams are particularly prone to additional fiscal year-end stress between October and January. Every year, finance and accounting professionals deal with getting caught between burnout and the bottom line when it comes to meeting critical year-end deadlines.

The time to think about how to improve year-end for 2014 is right after year-end for 2013 is complete.

Here are 5 actions that CFOs and finance managers can take now to help reduce year-end stress later:

  1. Conduct post-mortem 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’ve not only helped alleviate your team’s stress, you’ve also created a foundation for action plans to make important process improvements. Consider streamlining your other types of meetings to make room on the calendar for key post-mortem meetings.
  2. Be more proactive with quarterly 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 still meet the deadlines.
  3. Assess your staffing, 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 servers 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 people’s computers, evaluating workloads that may warrant new hires, or sending your staff to a professional development conference.
  4. 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.
  5. Roll out a wellness program: Once the year-end work is done, 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. Then organize a year-round initiative to educate employees on nutrition, exercise, stress management and taking proper breaks. Create times and places each day for people to get together to stretch or take a walk, host some healthy potlucks, and perhaps convert a small unused office or storage space into a meditation and relaxation room.

Every step you take now can go miles toward making your 2014 year-end process a much smoother journey.