Finance professionals are reported to be among the top professionals to experience burnout and the industry has an average turnover of 18.6%, which is among the highest of all industries. These lean teams have had to work incredibly hard to protect their business throughout the financial crisis, and they now are faced with an especially challenging tax season, ramping back up toward financial recovery, and budgeting for the upcoming year while paying off loans and Payroll Protection Programs ending.
It is essential finance leaders be aware of the mental and emotional exhaustion likely sweeping through teams to help prevent employee turnover or disengagement during such a pivotal time for many businesses. Heads of finance should begin strategizing now to prevent burnout. Below are three ways to help:
Practice the 3 E’s
- Education: Uncertainty can be a major cause of stress and employees have been running up against unprecedented challenges again and again throughout the last year. While moving at 100 MPH during the financial crisis, there was little time for leaders to sit down with their people and explain the intricacies of certain processes. Now, it may benefit leaders to go back and educate their people on what was happening behind the scenes. Educating the team about the ‘why’ behind certain projects or offering feedback to help improve employee performance can help keep the team engaged and avoid certain frustrations.
- Empathy: Understanding where individuals on the team are at emotionally and how they may need support is an important factor in helping finance leaders retain their people long-term. Burnout is not just created by job stress but can be compounded by various stresses from an employee’s personal life, as well. Ask staff what is on the docket for them in the coming quarter both professionally and personally and ask what they would like to achieve in both. Offer support wherever necessary to help avoid employees feeling drained by a busy season.
- Empowerment: Involving employees in decision-making processes can help further develop them, improving engagement and potentially increasing productivity. Empower employees to make decisions, while acknowledging there will inevitably be some mistakes. Treat this as a learning opportunity.
Finance teams that had to assist in difficult decisions last year while cutting budgets or forecasting major losses may still feel discouraged while engrossed in crisis remediation. They may have a difficult time recognizing their own achievements while moving quickly and bouncing between projects, making the personal recognition from leaders that much more important. When an employee feels valued and respected as an individual apart from their work, they often feel more engaged and connected to the organization as well.
Consider recognition not just from manager to direct report, but also from leaders one or two levels up or managers of other teams. Share about an individual’s success with other members of leadership and tap on them for help recognizing employees for their work. This recognition can often times be even more valuable coming from a leader of a different team, as it shows their impact has reached beyond their immediate peers. LaSalle Network’s corporate grandparenting creates higher levels of staff engagement. Corporate grandparenting is a form of mentorship and team development in which a higher level manager or more tenured employee acts as a mentor to help guide staff. Getting recognition and mentorship from senior leaders can help staff step back and see how their role plays into the greater purpose of the organization, offering perspective and reprieve from the stress they may be under.
Help staff prioritize their responsibilities, acknowledging that all of their responsibilities are important, but not everything is urgent. Make note of deadlines and how long various projects may take to create a backwards timeline. This can help reduce the risk of burnout by offering a visualization of how each project can be completed, and by understanding where outside support may be needed.
Part of helping prioritize is knowing when an employee simply needs a break. After taking on so much this year, both professionally and personally, some employees may need time to disconnect and recharge. When appropriate, figure out if there is a time team members can take a day off and still have essential responsibilities covered.
One other way many companies are supporting their finance and accounting teams is by adding talent, either temporarily or permanently, to provide much-needed support. To view the top accounting and finance roles companies are currently hiring for, click here.
If you’re looking to add accounting or finance professionals to your team, let us help. Get connected here.