How’s life? Ask most people this question and if they’re answering honestly you’ll get a roll of the eyes and the answer: “Busy!”
Dashing around with a long To Do list and juggling competing demands is the reality of day-to-day life for most of us. To a certain extent, we need this pressure to motivate us and help us get things done.
But when healthy pressure becomes unhealthy stress, that’s when the problems start – and we see this a lot in busy finance teams under the weight of a heavy workload.
Stress Awareness Month has been taking place every April since 1992 and its aim is to increase public awareness about stress, its causes, its negative effects and how to relieve it. For both employers and employees it’s a valuable opportunity to stop, take stock and start to tackle the problem.
The Health and Safety Executive states that over half a million workers said they were suffering from work-related stress, anxiety and depression. This translates to 40% of all work-related ill health cases and 49% of all working days lost due to ill health. So if stress is affecting you, what can you do about it?
Assess your stress triggers
The first step is to identify what is causing you stress. For small business owners and finance managers in small businesses, the numbers and everything to do with them as well as poor processes are likely to be the biggest stress causers.
- Have you got the visibility around the numbers that you and the business need or are you in the dark about where the business is financially?
- Are your processes overwhelming you because they’re too cumbersome, manual, and error-prone for the size of business you’ve become?
- Are phone calls from angry suppliers about late payments becoming more frequent because your accounts payable system is all over the place?
- Do employees consistently not follow travel and expense policies and you find yourself spending a disproportionate amount of time trying to correct claims and educate employees?
Facing up to reality and taking steps to get control back will not only make you healthier it will make the business healthier too. Once you’ve identified your triggers, but an action plan in place to at least take the next step. You’ll feel so much better for making a positive move in the right direction.
Manage your health and wellbeing
While tackling the causes of stress is the most important thing you can do, taking good care of yourself is vital as well – a healthy body is better able to cope with the demands you place on it.
You’ve heard it all before, but these things really do make a difference.
- Do you eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables?
- Do you take time for regular exercise or is running up the stairs to deal with another crisis as good as it gets?
- Do you enjoy a good night’s sleep or is it hard to remember the last time you woke up feeling refreshed and raring to go?
Create a positive working environment for everyone
As well as taking care of your own stress levels, you also need to take care of those around you. In fact, if you’re an employer, you have a legal duty to protect your employees from stress at work.
- Are your team able to cope with the demands of their jobs?
- Are they able to control the way they do their work?
- Do they receive all the information and support they need?
Putting strategies in place to protect your team from stress will not only help you meet your legal obligations it will also strengthen your business.
If you’re keen to tackle stress in your workplace or would like to know your rights and responsibilities as a worker, the Health and Safety Executive has a wealth of information to help you.
If you’ve realised a bad expense or invoice process is behind much of your work woes, talk to a friendly member of our team who’d be happy to share some advice and tips – 01628 645 100.