Practitioners regularly suffer increased stress and anxiety during self assessment season. Clients and colleagues impose constant demands that take a toll on accountants’ personal lives, productivity and motivation.
Technology and its always on culture has become a blight on workers’ physical and mental health, says CABA wellbeing consultant Lucy Whitehall, “be it via the negative impact on sleep or the distinction between our home and work lives”.
In response to these pressures, the chartered accountants’ charity is urging practice owners and managers to prioritise employee welfare. An effective wellbeing policy can protect staff health and office productivity, even during busy times, CABA argues. The charity has published a holistic health and wellbeing at work guide to show how to build such a policy,
“We recognise and understand the importance of wellbeing and know that stress, finances, or relationships, along with a host of other factors, influence how people feel in their lives, which in turn will influence their motivation, engagement, or disposition in their workplace,” explains Kath Haines, CABA chief executive.
Decreasing stress levels can be as simple as not answering emails outside work hours. Yet many firms struggle to build a successful, coherent and holistic wellbeing strategy. Practitioners buried under their own tax workload know firsthand what workplace burn-out is like but can find it hard to address the underlying causes.
The CABA guide offers the following framework to analyse stress points and mitigate them with an effective wellbeing policy – ideally before the pressure starts building.
Addressing the needs of different employees and letting them know support is available are essential steps to an effective wellbeing strategy. Only by understanding what different generations within your team regard as “wellbeing” will you be able to offer them engaging options. In the case of millennials, for instance, this might mean flexibility, work/life balance or enhanced communication.
Ask for input
Ask your employees what their wellbeing needs are, which will most likely change depending on factors such as their personality, age, gender or culture. Listen to your employees and let them shape your wellbeing strategy; the more you engage them, the more they will buy into it.
Create space for employees’ interests
Employees often dedicate time to improve their own wellbeing outside their working hours. That includes exercising regularly, eating healthily, taking breaks and so on. Sometimes, improving wellbeing at work is as easy as making space for employees to do what they already do outside the office. For instance, you can make sure there are healthy snacks available in the office, give employees the option of more flexible working hours or even encourage them to take some time to go for a walk or exercise during the day.
Lead by example
Create an environment where people feel secure and supported. If you want to improve your firm’s culture and empower employees to take care of themselves, you will have to show them you are doing the same thing. Leaving on time, staying home when you are sick and not answering emails outside your normal working hours are basic building blocks of good health; ensure you encourage others to do the same.