Finance News & Insights

Expert advice on managing year-end stress in Finance

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Last minute purchase reqs, invoices, expense reports, flex spending reimbursements, holiday pay schedules  — and that’s before you contend with W-2s and 1099s! Finance can barely come up for air at this time of year. Which makes keeping stress in check more critical than ever.

Who better to offer advice on keep stress levels down than the folks at the Mayo Clinic? They have advice for managers to help keep crunch time from sending your staffers over the edge.

Things are only going to get more hectic in the coming weeks. Now’s the time to put these stress-busting strategies in place. Here’s your best plan of action.

Step 1: Have them track their triggers

Different things set different people off. But a little bit of insight into what makes your staffers feel stretched can help you help them.

Ask your staffer to do the following for the next week:

  • Make a list of the situations, events and people who cause them a negative reaction, and
  • Be sure it includes who they were with and where.

Step 2: Search for patterns

Then have them give you their lists. Keep an eye out for certain patterns.

Is it a specific department that’s driving your people nuts? Or does it happen when staffers are tracked down outside the department (catching them with questions in the ladies room, for example)?   Or maybe it’s trying to find some coverage when a team member has to get to parent-teacher conferences at school.

The key is to look for patterns both within individual staffers and in your department as a whole.

Step 3: Help staffers tackle stress triggers

Once you have an idea of what’s making blood pressures rise, both individually and collectively, see what you can do to eliminate some of those stressors.

So if it’s the unexpected and ill-timed interruptions, try instituting open hours in the finance department. At a given window each day, people can come to Finance and ask any questions they have.  But only then, unless it’s a true emergency. That can help staffers from getting sidetracked when they have so much on their plates.

And if it’s the work-life balance issues that crop up around the holidays, now’s the time to tackle that head-on. Have your staffers submit all their holiday pageants and Christmas concerts right away, so you can work on a coverage schedule so no one has to miss out on any special events, even in the busiest season.

Even the process of actively working towards solutions should help your team feel less stressed.

Step 4: Revisit time management skills

Hopefully your staffers are pretty solid on time management already. Still, it couldn’t hurt to take another look at some of the best strategies.  A few ways to do that:

  • Make some priority lists. Often when there seems like there are a million things to do, no one knows what to do first. Consider making a departmental priority list so staffers know what to tackle when during crunch time. Depending on your group, it’s also may be a good idea to do that with individual staffers too so they know what’s expected.
  • Share successes. Unless you have a staff of newbies, most team members have probably weathered the end of the year before. Ask staffers to offer their two best time management tips. Then assemble them and share with the whole team. Someone may just find a new strategy that can better manage their time.

And of course, now’s the perfect time to remind your staffers that you’re always there to help out any way you can. Knowing that may just chip away at that stress.

Info:  Adapted in part from “Coping with Stress: Workplace Tips,” by Mayo Clinic staff.

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