An analysis by Deloitte, published in 2020, found that poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion each year, mainly due to presenteeism. Presenteeism occurs when individuals choose to attend work despite poor mental health but are unproductive in the work they do.
This figure, although staggering, is just a glimpse into the far-reaching side effects of poor mental wellbeing. While the cost to employers is great, the cost to employees extends far beyond monetary implications, affecting their overall health.
With mountains of emails to reply to and fast-approaching deadlines welcoming accountants into 2022, wellbeing needs to be a priority. Wellbeing is the combination of feeling well and functioning well — both mentally and physically. To help CPAs on their journey to better overall health, we’ve put together a list of tips on how they can look after their wellbeing at work.
Work hard, play hard is a mantra that haunts many accountancy environments. The hours can be gruelling, the deadlines tight and the pressure to deliver above and beyond for clients is exhausting at times. The bravado of being able to cope without support adds to the stress and worry. However, stigma often prevents CPAs from coming forward and showing that they’re struggling.
It’s time to put the ‘brave face’ masks away and destroy the stigma surrounding mental health. After living through a pandemic, every one of us is in need of some understanding and empathy.
To combat the stiff upper lip approach and tackle issues before they manifest, firm leaders need to promote a culture of openness and transparency. Senior role models must lead by example rather than taking a hard-line approach, showing empathy towards employees’ needs and encouraging them to come forward in difficult times.
In a world where many professionals are still working from home, it can be difficult for accountants to separate work life from home life. But, by failing to do so, CPAs risk burnout — a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
Burnout can’t be ‘cured’ easily, but there are ways to prevent it and being strict with your schedule is one of them. To promote a healthy work-life balance when working from home, consider assigning a separate room for your office space. It may not feel like it, but our environments seriously impact the way we feel. When logging off for the evening, it’s crucial that you aren’t surrounded by constant reminders of work.
If you’re working in an office and still find it difficult to switch off, ask yourself who’s putting these expectations on you? Oftentimes, you may feel like you need to work late when you’re putting that expectation on yourself. Alternatively, sometimes you might stay late just because you can. In that case, consider adding different activities to your evening so that you have to leave on time.
Firm leaders need to ensure that they’re setting an example to help improve employees’ work-life balance. They can do so by encouraging their team to log off on time, take regular breaks and by following their own advice, too.
A designated work area isn’t enough on its own to improve wellbeing at work. Accountants must also tailor their environments so they’re conducive to productivity and a healthy mindset. To do so, start with what’s in front of you: your desk.
The age-old saying “tidy desk, tidy mind” comes into play here. When your desk is cluttered and disorganised, it’s easy to become distracted and procrastinate. But, putting off tasks can lead to increased stress down the line. Creating an organised space, on the other hand, eliminates the chaos and declutters the mind.
Next, turn your attention to your posture. Sitting down all day in an unsupportive chair can cause nagging, long-term back pain. Not only is this bad for general wellbeing, but it can also force attention away from tasks. Consider providing ergonomic seating or a sit-stand desk to improve the workplace set-up for the whole team — just as INAA member Revision Vadestedet did.
Finally, it’s time to give up caffeine dependence. Although caffeinated, high-sugar drinks may seem like a silver-bullet solution to waning energy levels, they’re usually unhealthy and cause productivity to crash throughout the day. Firm leaders should ensure that employees have access to healthy drinks and snacks in the office so that they can better look after their wellbeing at work.
It’s easy to feel alone at work — even when surrounded by colleagues. Building greater cohesion and an environment where people feel involved, appreciated and seen can go a long way to promoting employee wellbeing.
In addition, by spending time together outside of the workplace, for example at team lunches or volunteer days, staff gain a greater sense of belonging and are more likely to share when they’re feeling overwhelmed. These activities also give accountancy teams the opportunity to relax — a crucial element of any wellbeing at work strategy.
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