Accountancy is a stressful profession – there are no two ways about it. Finances are crucial to the running of any business and providing an accurate picture of an organization’s financial health at any one time, managing capital flows, and planning for the future in an uncertain climate is no mean feat. The responsibility that is sitting on accountants’ shoulders is huge.
It may not come as much surprise then that accountants claim that their work negatively affects them, with feelings of stress a daily issue – heightened during a busy period like financial close.
Accounting is very much a traditional industry. At present, it still has very defined career paths and qualifications needed to succeed, whereas other, younger industries tend to have much more varied qualifications and skills requirements. For the latter, self-taught professionals, or those that have taken a non-traditional career path are much more common. Sometimes that tightly-defined role can be a comfort to people, for others it can feel claustrophobic and restrictive. But even in the stereotypically “boring” world of accountancy change is coming, and it’s leading many professionals to find a renewed sense of excitement about their role and future prospects.
With any career, the experience is as much about the environment, as the job itself. Modern workplaces and employers are beginning to recognize this much more than say 20 or 30 years ago. That’s not to say that the key to workplace happiness is open plan glass buildings with bean bag chairs and office dogs, but employers should be considering the appropriate measures to keep their staff happy, in-keeping with their company culture.
Say “No” to the stress
One of the more stressful tasks that accountants face is the financial close process – a race against the clock to complete account reconciliation, journal entry, compliance, consolidation and reporting, and provide an organization’s leadership with a moment-in-time health check of the financial situation. This is easier said than done and often involves a checklist of hundreds of individual tasks.
The way organizations go about this process can have a dramatic impact on accountants’ wellbeing and work-life balance. And, crucially in today’s competitive market, how easy it is to attract new talent to your office of finance.
If you’re still using very old school, manual processes for your financial close you may find it difficult to recruit. Accountants know that these processes often translate to poor communication within the team, long hours, and even overtime to complete the close. No one wants to work in this draconian environment, metaphorically chained to their desks and slogging away over tasks a piece of software can be done within an instant.
Solving problems with software
On the other hand, firms that have invested in dedicated financial close software suites, that integrate seamlessly with other ERP and general ledger software, will find it much easier to fill accounting roles. Finance professionals know that these systems mean the worst parts of the job are taken off of their hands, automated by smart technology, freeing them up to focus on adding more value to their organizations in more strategic ways.
Accountants whose employers invest in these solutions are rubbing their hands with glee – not only are they free from some of the more onerous parts of the job, but they also have a head start on the rest of the industry and can begin to carve out new and interesting advisory-type roles where they can demonstrate their true value to the business. As these advisory roles become more commonplace, those early pioneers – now with a few years’ experience – become the change-makers every CFO wants to hire, to replicate their successes in pastures new.
This is something all leaders of finance teams should be thinking about. Investing in the right tools and technology such as the Adra Suite ensures that teams are not only better equipped to do their jobs, but that the office of finance has the best people for the job.
Working out work-life balance
While balance may be a misnomer, with many now finding it’s more about work-life integration, tackling today’s 24/7, ‘always on’ culture, is dramatically eased by reducing the amount of time some of the most burdensome tasks take. Free from the headache of manual transaction matching, accountants have more time in the working day, and can better prioritize the tasks on their plate. Free from binders, printouts of countless task lists and spreadsheets, and desk full of highlighters, financial close software can even help even the untidiest accountants comply with clean desk policies! With everything now captured in the cloud, accountants now have no excuse but to keep their workspaces tidy.
Of course, there is much more to creating an inclusive working culture than simply buying new software, it must be part of a wider effort to recognize and respond to the needs of your employees.
However, in terms of the return on the investment, the software can provide an impressive dollar-for-dollar outcome. While some finance professionals may prefer budget to be spent on new furnishings or a canine companion, you can bet they’ll be pleased if you give them something that reduces stress levels and ensures they leave the office on time – even if it does mean they have to keep their desks clean and tidy!
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