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Research reveals tips for mitigating stress levels for accounting professionals

More than three quarters of Australian CFOs believe financial workplace stress levels will rise over the next three years, according to new research, but firms can take steps to mitigate the risk.

Research reveals tips for mitigating stress levels for accounting professionals
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The independent study, commissioned by recruiter Robert Half, surveyed 160 CFOs and finance directors in Australia. Of those surveyed, 46 per cent expected stress levels to rise significantly.

CFOs cited increased workloads (61 per cent), increased business expectations (52 per cent), shorter deadlines (37 per cent) and lack of staff (26 percent) as the key reasons for growing stress levels.

“Higher workloads and shorter deadlines are key contributors to workplace stress, particularly for finance staff around end of financial year,” Robert Half Australia’s director, Nicole Gorton, said.

“While stress seems to be a recognised term in the workplace, the negative outcomes of stressed and overworked employees cannot be underestimated. Workplace burnout is not only harmful to the employee at hand, it also negatively impacts the company,” Ms Gorton said.

“Stress can lead to less productivity, low staff morale and increased sick leave, which all impact a business’s bottom line.”

An overwhelming majority of CFOs (94 per cent) said they were taking measures specifically designed to reduce stress in the workplace, with 64 per cent redesigning office space to facilitate productivity and efficient working.

More than half said they would provide regular opportunities to give feedback to management, while 41 per cent offered flexible working hours or remote work opportunities.

“Measures such as changing workspaces, hiring contract or temporary professionals or establishing open lines of communication to develop an inclusive workplace are all examples of this encompassing approach,” Ms Gorton said.

“Hiring temporary professionals during fiscal year-end have proven to be a cost-efficient measure to alleviate high workloads of existing staff, thereby keeping stress levels under control.

“Companies who actively take measures to prevent and reduce employee stress will notice tangible results, as their teams are likely to be more productive and motivated, which can positively affect the company’s bottom line.”

Eight steps for employers to reduce or prevent workplace stress

  1. Motivate and reward employees: Don’t hold back on praise for a job well done. Feeling appreciated in the workplace can further motivate staff, which in turn can reduce workload pressure;
  2. Listen to employees: Make sure there are open lines of communication for staff to discuss what is causing them stress, then deliberate on how to reduce workplace stress and implement action plans for improvement so that stressful situations can be managed better;
  3. Address issues while they’re fresh: Workplace conflicts and stressful situations rarely go away on their own. Reach out to co-workers who may be demonstrating signs of stress and tension, and work through the issues together;
  4. Be proactive with planning: Map out day-to-day operations and new initiatives to let employees anticipate challenges and organise their workflow more efficiently so potential stressful situations can be avoided;
  5. Assess training and technology needs: Look for changes that could have a positive impact on key processes such as automating manual procedures or upgrading computers. Spending less time on manual processes and more time on challenging and rewarding projects can make the job more rewarding, thereby reducing the risk of increased stress;
  6. Revisit your corporate culture: Employees should feel respected and rewarded for their work. Consider if your corporate culture focuses on commitment to success and employee wellbeing, or if it promotes a culture of embedded pressure and stress;
  7. Take a break: Consider thanking your team with a few stress-reducing perks, like a professional neck massage at the desk; and
  8. Demonstrate a commitment to work/life balance: Create work/life balance opportunities by embracing a variety of options such as flexible work hours and remote work opportunities.

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