Balancing the books and wellness: A guide for accountants to combat burnout

Written by

anshal@thinklittlebig.com

Accounting is a demanding job at the best of times, and during the busy tax season, it is not uncommon for accountants to almost live out of their offices. Unsurprisingly, burnout is a huge problem among accountants everywhere.

Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. According to a FloQast survey, 99% of accountants have experienced some degree of burnout at some point.

As the demand for accounting services continues to rise, finding a balance between productivity and mental wellbeing is vital so that everyone is equipped to do their best without struggle. This blog shares best practices for encouraging wellness and minimising burnout at your practice.

1. Create healthy boundaries at work

Creating boundaries is a fundamental step towards preventing burnout. In an era where work-from-home has become the norm, it is easier than ever for work to spill into personal time. Therefore, build a culture that respects personal time and encourages work-life balance.

This involves setting an example from the leadership level and promoting a healthy work environment where employees are not expected to work long hours constantly. Make sure you do it right. Implement policies that specify when your staff is expected to respond to emails, be available for calls or meetings, and establish preferred modes of communication.

That helps manage expectations and prevent them from constantly feeling on call or obligated to be available outside of working hours. Clearly define each person’s responsibilities to avoid situations where one individual takes on an excessive workload.

Doing so makes it easier to distribute tasks appropriately and prevent burnout. Furthermore, encourage designated periods where your staff can concentrate on tasks without distractions. Establish “no meeting” times or provide a quiet workspace conducive to focused work.

2. Promote recovery time and breaks

Breaks are not a luxury but necessary for maintaining mental and physical health. Promote self-care practices among your staff, such as taking regular breaks, having a proper lunch break, engaging in physical activity like going for a walk, and pursuing hobbies or activities that help reduce stress and maintain wellbeing.

Create a supportive culture where they feel comfortable taking their entitled vacation time and occasional mental health days when needed. This helps prevent burnout and allows them to recharge guilt-free.

Also, encourage them to disconnect from work-related notifications outside their designated working hours. This helps create a clear separation between work and personal time, allowing employees to relax and recharge. A rested mind is more creative, focused, and productive.

3. Embrace flexible work arrangements

Flexible work arrangements can significantly reduce stress and prevent burnout. Enable your staff to choose their work hours based on their personal productivity patterns and preferences. That is because different individuals may be more effective during different parts of the day.

Besides critical team collaboration sessions, consider offering flexible arrangements wherein accountants can work from home for at least part of the week with virtual check-ins. You can also provide customised flexibility based on who is handling what.

For instance, if a certain team just pulled long hours on a critical project, they can have some time off at home, and another team can take over. You also increase job satisfaction when you give your staff the freedom to create a work schedule that fits their lifestyle and personal commitments.

4. Make “caring for self” the norm

Many accountants devote themselves to the tax season rush at the cost of their health and wellbeing. You should, therefore, actively work to address this by encouraging your staff to get enough sleep, having designated team breaks at intervals, providing snacks at the workplace so that they do not skip nutrition and investing in wellness practices like team yoga or meditation.

When your accountants are well-rested and well-nourished, they can put in their best efforts during their working hours. By encouraging self-care, you are investing in a more efficient team.

5. Offer training and development opportunities

Often, burnout results from accountants taking on roles they are not fully comfortable with, a fairly common phenomenon in an era of high turnover where team members have to step in for others at the last minute.

This also extends to managers – overseeing a team can be stressful, and they may benefit hugely from resources that enable smoother collaboration. Several training and development options depend on your budget and team needs, from paying for books and course materials to offering in-house training to bringing in SMEs to conduct workshops.

Technology can play a big role here, too. Some ideas include online learning modules for core concepts or the latest tax updates, virtual whiteboards for collaborative ideation and an internal portal that connects junior accountants with senior accountants who can train them.

This is important if a team member has left or if there are more projects to work on than usual – every accountant needs to be fully aware of and comfortable with all aspects of the job.

6. Build a solid app stack to free up time

With the variety of process automation tools, many routine accounting tasks simply do not need human effort anymore. From bank account reconciliation, monthly statement preparation, CRM for clients, and sending notifications, AI-powered tools can do this faster and more accurately than any human.

In addition, having cloud-based touchpoints allows your staff to converse, collaborate and clarify in real-time from any location, which keeps things moving efficiently. The less routine work your accountants have to do, the less stressed out they will be over the little things, and the more clarity and creativity they can bring to the critical tasks.

7. Hire and outsource as necessary

Especially during the busy season, bringing on more people to support your team may be wise. If you do not want the hassle of recruiting someone full-time, outsourcing is a cost-effective and convenient option that lets you work with experts from around the globe.

This can dramatically reduce the day-to-day burden on your accountants, leaving them free to work on critical projects, invest in training and development or simply take a breather. And with the right tech stack for collaboration, working with an external partner can be as seamless as working internally. Get in touch with Stellaripe’s accountants today!

Over to you

Whether legislative changes, increased demand for support during the recession or simply higher client expectations, now is a busier time than ever for the accounting sector.

This is an excellent opportunity for accountants to establish themselves as strategic partners – and it is also a good chance to establish workplace practices that emphasise balance rather than working yourself to the bone.

Tax season or not – accountants have a tough job, but there are ways to safeguard health and recovery even while going the extra mile. And, of course, encourage your team to decompress after the seasons – you all deserve it!

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