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How to build a more resilient firm

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26th Jan 2018
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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.

Wellbeing guide

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.

Engage employees

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.

Find out more about these and other effective wellbeing strategies by downloading CABA’s whitepaper.

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Replies (8)

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By Peter-S
26th Jan 2018 10:13

and back in the real world ....

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All Paul Accountants in Leeds
By paulinleeds
26th Jan 2018 12:13

Sad to see Peter-S's comments.

I like the article. Very practical. We are not machines.

I've worked for 3 main firms in my working life (circa 8 years each), before starting my own profitable and growing firm 5 years ago.

The first two firms genuinely cared about their staff. They had real people with real lives running them. The staff stayed with the firm for many years e.g. 10-20 years and were happy. People worked hard but were loyal and were a good team.

I then worked for another firm (my last employer). The staff stayed on average for 1 or 2 years (based on 80+ staff over the last 10 years). Stress levels were high. The managing partner had no idea about real people and lived in his own world in a country house. His focus was on profit, KPI, growth and maximising everything.

I would hate to think how much he spent on recruitment fees, training, settling in, probably a multiple of my annual turnover.

I know first-hand that stress is debilitating, causes people to attend work, if they can, (but be unproductive when they are at work).

I look back 30 years ago at the pace of life and how things have changed. We had pens, paper, add-listing machines and analysis paper. We then went to the computer room to input and prepare draft account. The computer had a charge out rate (£10 ph) more than my own (£8 ph). We had no emails, faxes etc. I agree Excel, software, email etc is great.

We are all working harder and longer, reading emails etc outside work hours and whilst on holiday (me too) and we are suffering with information overload and exhaustion. This is not sustainable.

At one time slavery was acceptable. The always on culture may be hear to stay, but I think it will change. Things change for the better and society evolves.

I'm a real person, with a real firm that is profitable. I live in the real world.

I believe that you focus on inputs and you get the outputs, not the other way around.

Have you heard the story about the wood cutter that kept resting and sharpening his axe! ....... He cut down more trees!

Thanks (1)
Neophyte
By Neophyte
26th Jan 2018 13:26

Peter's reaction is off, but not uncommon, especially in the older generation. Talking about resilience or well-being is seen as weakness,"airy fairy" or simply not relevant.

But for people who have worked in toxic environments or had illness or family issues then it's a different matter..

I've had the pleasure of meeting Lucy and attending a CABA resilience workshop. It's definitely time well spent and I would recommend everybody takes time out to reflect on their own well being and others.

For me it's sometimes as simple as taking time out in the day for a brisk walk around town before settling back at work.

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
26th Jan 2018 13:49

The reason why (some) accountants get stressed in January is because they are sh. 1te at planning.

There's 9 months to complete tax returns - use it.

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Replying to Kent accountant:
Little Miss Accountant
By Kajutka26
19th Feb 2018 12:11

Definitely agreed.

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By Thomas917
25th Nov 2019 09:26

I then worked for another firm (my last employer). The staff stayed on average for 1 or 2 years (based on 80+ staff over the last 10 years). Stress levels were high. The managing partner had no idea about real people and lived in his own world in a country house. His focus was on profit, KPI, growth and maximising everything.

I would hate to think how much he spent on recruitment fees, training, settling in, probably a multiple of my annual turnover.

I know first-hand that stress is debilitating, causes people to attend work, if they can, (but be unproductive when they are at work).

I look back 30 years ago at the pace of life and how things have changed. We had pens, paper, add-listing machines and analysis paper. We then went to the computer room to input and prepare draft account. The computer had a charge out rate (£10 ph) more than my own (£8 ph). We had no emails, faxes etc. I agree Excel, software, email etc is great.

Thanks (0)
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By Jerome325
29th Nov 2019 07:22

I then worked for another firm (my last employer). The staff stayed on average for 1 or 2 years (based on 80+ staff over the last 10 years). Stress levels were high. The managing partner had no idea about real people and lived in his own world in a country house. His focus was on profit, KPI, growth and maximising everything.

I would hate to think how much he spent on recruitment fees, training, settling in, probably a multiple of my annual turnover. https://www.mykfcexperience.onl/

I know first-hand that stress is debilitating, causes people to attend work, if they can, (but be unproductive when they are at work).

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By elsienova006
23rd Mar 2020 12:19

Great article, every employer should see this https://www.mykfcexperience.xyz/

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