Everyone at some point in their lives will experience a stressful situation or period at work. In recognition of the fact that April is stress awareness month, we are looking at the ways stress can enter the workplace – whether that means working in the office or remotely -- and how you can alleviate it. Finance and accounting roles can be particularly stressful as they are detail-oriented and often have stringent deadlines. Effectively alleviating stress will help you cope with your workload, gain perspective and help you prevent it reoccurring.
Causes of stress at work:
A little bit of stress can be good for motivation and can even improve performance, but many people will experience situations where the stress of a finance or accounting role becomes too much and it affects productivity, mental and physical health. The main causes of stress in the workplace are:
Fear of termination
Overtime or increased workload due to cutbacks
Pressure to perform under constantly pressurised circumstances
Lack of support or communication from management
New systems and processes
Business uncertainty due to economic downturn or fluctuation
Work-related stress statistics:
According to the Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association (CABA), 32% of accountants feel stressed in their day-to-day life and a further 17% have been forced to take time off due to stress.
Kelly Feehan, CABA
“Workplace stress had caused 42% of respondents to consider resigning, while 40% had looked for a new job elsewhere. Nearly one in seven (14%) had actually handed in their notice because of workplace stress.”
Managing stress in times of uncertainty
It is possible that your workplace stress may feel outside your control – with market uncertainty and macroeconomic factors currently impacting the workplace, it’s understandable that you may feel anxious or worried about the economy, your company or even your job. Focussing on the task at hand and remembering that a lot of these factors are outside of your control will help you manage the day-to-day stress. Engaging in open communication with your manager will yield the fastest reassurance.
Strategies for managing stress in the workplace:
1. Identify the source
Identifying the factors in your day-to-day life that cause you stress will allow you to address the issue head on. Whether it’s overwhelming amounts of deliverables or maybe you’re juggling studying for a professional qualification with full-time employment, knowing what your trigger points are will help you take steps to alleviate them.
2. Find the middle ground
In finance and accounting you can be placed on different projects or within different departments for a time, this can mean you have multiple managers to please. If you go flat out to please everyone, you’ll never leave the office. Finding where you can push back on a task or openly communicating your busy schedule to a manager will help you reduce the pressure on yourself.
3. Create your own organisational style
Find a way to keep your desk tidy, this will help you organise your thoughts and keep you focussed. If you’re hot desking, you can organise your bag or backpack so that you always have the essentials with you.
4. One step at a time
Break your workload down into its constituent tasks and organise them by priority. This will allow you to take stock of the situation.
5. Try delegation
If you have the opportunity to delegate some of your workload then do it! Perfectionism or being too controlling ensure that your work is of a high standard, but it can also hold you back if carried too far. Knowing how to delegate the right task to the right person is also a great skill to develop as it will help you if your desired career path includes senior management positions.
6. Try and relax!
We know it’s easier said than done but finding a few moments to breathe deeply and relax will help you cope with stressful situations and increase your productivity. A ten-minute walk on your lunch break can help you clear your mind and even regain focus … ultimately, being able to relax will increase your productivity!
Being able to communicate in the workplace will dramatically improve your ability to manage stress on two fronts. The first is communicating with your managers -- this will ensure they know what is on your plate and won’t give you more until you can take it.
Communicating with your peers will also help you manage your stress. Chances are that many of them are going through or have gone through something similar. A feeling of camaraderie can help you feel supported and understood as well as dispel feelings of stress.
8. Find your work-life balance
When feelings of overwhelming stress arise due to a heavy workload or impending deadlines, it is tempting to hunker down in your work and try and power through. Where this can sometimes be necessary, it shouldn’t be a part of your daily routine. Knowing when to draw the line and call it a day can improve your productivity the next day. Trying to force yourself to work for too long will take its toll on your mental health and your work.
Regular breaks and a good night’s sleep will make all the difference when you come back to your work the next day. Focussing on non-work activities such as exercise, a hobby or socialising (whether remotely or in person) can help you step away from your work and blow off some steam.
9. Change your situation
If none of the above are working, it might be time to consider a new role.
Edward Mann can assist you in finding the right job move where you can fully utilise your skills and plan for personal growth to ensure a bright future. Our consultants will help you at every step of the way, offering application support, and interview advice so you make the right impression.