How to Reduce the Stress of the Financial Close on Your Team

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What do you call a financial controller who works nights and weekends, doesn’t go out for lunch and rarely takes a vacation? Lazy!

It’s a classic accounting industry joke. Unfortunately, it still rings true today because many accounting departments in small- to medium-sized enterprises tend to be stuck in the past. For example, during the month-end close, Excel spreadsheets and the steady tapping of manual calculations can be heard throughout the department.

Increasing demands for more timely and accurate financial statements can quickly push the accounting and finance function beyond its capacity to excel. After all, with just two hands, even the world’s best juggler can only handle so many chainsaws before things get … messy.

Increasing Workloads Lead to Burnout

The heavy workloads are taking their toll. More than half of the workers in a recent poll by Accountemps said they are stressed at work on a daily basis, and six out of 10 reported their work-related pressure has increased over the past five years.

Stress often leads to burnout. A burned out accountant may report late to work and produce lower quality work than before. Here are other common signs of burnout that you should recognize:

  • Being unable to sleep or constantly fighting illnesses like head colds
  • Feeling alienated by colleagues or feeling underappreciated
  • Lack of care in assignments or “phoning it in”

A growing number of studies are also finding links between long hours at work and health problems. A study published in the British medical journal The Lancet found that people who work more than 55 hours a week have a higher risk of stroke than those working 35 to 40 hours a week.

Senior accounting managers and CFOs are well aware of the strain on their teams, according to the Accountemps survey. Business is moving faster than ever. Growth brings more complexity, more data and more compliance requirements.

Accounting is meant to support decision makers both inside and outside the company, who rely on financial statements that are both timely and accurate. Modern business success is founded on high-quality data and the ability to analyze it in a meaningful way. Without these two factors, it is very difficult to develop the strategic insight to help your company grow.

Reduce Stress with Automation

Yet, you are asked to accomplish more with the same or fewer resources. During the financial close, some of the biggest challenges are managing the allocation of work and the progression of deadlines. Addressing these issues can promote better teamwork, boost morale and reduce the potential for miscommunication when projects are handed off. Setting clearly defined expectations and assigning appropriate workloads can reduce burnout and, ultimately, cut down on staff turnover.

Your accounting team also needs new tools to automate many of the redundant processes in the financial close, from transaction matching to balance sheet reconciliations. Automation brings several benefits, including:

  • Producing more reliable outcomes on a more predictable timeline
  • Streamlining workflows to optimize efficiency
  • Shaving time off the process, creating opportunities for a higher-level value-add

Your finance and accounting employees will thank you. When finance professionals are empowered to use their high-level skills—rather than carrying out tedious, routine tasks—they are likely to become more engaged and more productive. They can help you add value to your organization through strategic thinking and analytical insight. After all, let’s be honest: financial accounting can sometimes be a thankless job—one that can go unnoticed outside of the department until there’s a problem.

The finance function should be a platform for company growth—not a hindrance. As your company faces new challenges and grapples with increasing complexity in a fast-moving business environment, you’ll need to successfully overcome any challenges that are adding unnecessary stress.

If you are looking for a way to simplify your financial close process through automation all of key steps, the Adra suite of solutions can help!  Change is inevitable, the ability to adapt is an invaluable asset–and no one is better positioned to leverage it than the office of finance.

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