The stresses of being an accountant are well-documented and known.
Accountancy owners have it even harder. In addition to facing the day-to-day pressures of everyday work, stress can skyrocket during times of HMRC deadlines: VAT returns, company accounts, corporation tax returns. Added to that are HR pressures and all the usual stresses of running a business.
Here are seven unique ways for you as an accountancy owner to reduce stress.
1. Let off steam with peers
It is these very idiosyncracies in the field of accounting which make it vital that you surround yourself with peers.
“Going to the pub” on a Friday night has always been the go-to solution for a stressful week. But although alcohol might lead to short-term stress relief, there can be adverse long-term effects which actually increase stress levels.
Instead of rushing off to the pub, create a weekly get-together of you and a few other accountants and just “let it all out”. Tell jokes about the week, complain about the latest IR35 changes or about the latest Exchequer financial aid scheme.
Not only does laughter reduce stress, networking in this way with your peers can give you new insight into how they handle their businesses. It might show you a simple solution to something which you hadn’t thought of before.
You could even do this online once a week using something like Zoom.
2. Get more efficient
A survey conducted with leading HR professionals revealed that “poor systems” was the leading cause (42 per cent) of poor workplace productivity.
Reduced productivity in an accountancy firm can be fatal, leading to missed deadlines, customer dissatisfaction, and penalties.
Accounting is a tight-margin industry. This is truer now than it’s ever been. Accountancy software providers have taken filing duties almost entirely out of the accountant’s hands.
This makes the accountant’s service less valuable to people.
This is not a bad thing for the industry, but it does lead to lowered margins.
The way to combat this is to become more efficient in the accountancy practice. By delivering better service in less time, you can inch out of the tight-margin paradigm into a more profitable one.
The way to do this is to implement time-saving accounting software and tools in the business, which automate everyday tasks.
3. Embrace staggered working hours
Flexible working hours can lead to reduced stress in employees, according to a study by Cascade HR.
Reduced stress in employees can lead to reduced stress in bosses, according to our own experiences.
There’s also the matter of personality clashes and internal office politics. By strategically setting out a staggered working hours plan which keeps the key belligerents apart, you can have a happier workplace, which itself can reduce stress for you personally.
4. Delegate, delegate, delegate!
Too many accountancy owners want to verify everything themselves.
It takes tremendous trust to put something entirely in the hands of a junior, but it must be done if you ever need to step away from things for a bit and clear your head.
Delegating important tasks is something that can be implemented over time. Give employees more and more responsibility bit by bit.
Give them, also, incentives for doing their jobs well. If you reward perfection, you will get perfection.
Make people accountable for things, and reward them for taking on higher responsibilities.
5. Work remotely
The office itself can be a stressor.
The new guidelines on how to set up office spaces might lead to even more stress. Although the guidelines have been established to reduce the possibility of infection with COVID-19, the new office setup will also be a constant reminder of the dangers of the world.
The workplace also has its own distractions, such as people walking into your office to ask questions.
Working from home can be quieter, more peaceful, and therefore less stressful.
This option slots in well with delegating and staggered work hours.
If you delegate important work to employees, all you’ll need to do is pop in to check on their work occasionally. This can be done remotely.
Staggered hours can be implemented with a portion of those hours being worked on from home.
6. Close early on Fridays and have a party
Not only can this boost morale amongst staff, but you can also use it as an incentive to get productivity up during the week.
It’s a well-known gamification technique: Offer staff rewards (and possibly even a points system) and watch production soar.
Let the staff invite their families. Hire some karaoke equipment and let those with courage show off their skills, so long as you as the business owner go first.
Singing reduces stress, after all.
We touched on this in point #6, but it merits its own entry.
Not only is gamification a revolutionary way to increase productivity, but you as the business owner might also find yourself getting carried away with the enthusiasm.
Just as one gets transported at a football match, so does one get into the swing of the game at the office when gamification techniques are fully implemented.
Stress reduces productivity, and we are at a point in the economy where stress has the potential of being tremendously high indeed.
Make sure you let off steam with your peers once a week, increase your accountancy firm’s efficiency, give your employees a game they can get behind, and don’t forget to have a party every now and then.