It’s another work day and your employees shuffle into the office stifling yawns. It’s a familiar sight, and not only on Monday mornings.
Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of office workers responding to a recent Accountemps survey admitted they often work when tired, with 31 percent saying it happens very frequently. Younger workers (ages 18-34) are the most sleep-deprived, according to the survey.
Why are employees exhausted at work? Is it due to lifestyle choices, like staying up to binge-watch the latest shows or partying until the wee hours? Or are workloads and relentless deadlines keeping them up at night?
Personal choices are obviously out of your hands. But as an accounting manager, you can do something about relieving some of your staff’s work-related stressors. Here are seven tips for dealing with fatigue among your employees:
1. Offer flexible hours. Commuting in rush-hour traffic can be exhausting in itself, never mind how much it cuts into an employee’s personal time. Help your staff rebalance their personal and professional obligations by allowing them to choose the hours they come in and leave the office (within reason). Some may opt to work from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., while others might prefer to start at 9:30 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.
2. Allow remote work. One of the most sought-after office perks, according to research published in The 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals, is the ability to telecommute. It doesn’t need to be 100 percent remote work. Even the ability to work from home one day a week is a benefit that can save employees time, improve morale and allow people to sleep in a little longer.
3. Provide health-centric extras. Finance professionals want to work for employers that provide wellness benefits beyond medical and dental insurance. Offer perks that wake up tired employees (or help them rest) during office hours and relieve stress. These extras include on-site fitness centers, lunchtime yoga classes and even napping rooms. Encourage workers to take walks during their breaks. Also consider free or low-cost healthy snacks in the breakroom and vending machines, as junk food can contribute to lethargy.
4. Encourage time away. Additional research from the Salary Guide indicates North American companies hand out an average of 10 paid time off (PTO) days. But are your workers using all of them? Some professionals don’t like to take time off for fear of falling behind and having to play catch-up afterward. You can help by creating a corporate culture that values workers’ well-being — and urging employees to use all of their annual time off, including getting away for a long break at least once a year.
5. Be a role model. In today’s culture, business and sleep deprivation are often glorified as badges of honor in tandem with professional success. As the boss, you have the power to change this perception in your corner of the world. Set a good example by coming to the office well-rested and not promoting a work-till-you-drop mentality. Take vacations that last at least a week rather than using your PTO for just the occasional three-day weekend. Embrace quality downtime and appropriate workloads, both of which help lead to a healthy work-life balance.
6. Monitor assignments. You may think your staff can handle a certain number of clients or reconcile a certain number of accounts in a day, but the reality on the ground may be different from your expectations. That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly check in with employees to see how much work they have on their plate, how they’re handling those workloads and whether or not they’re overloaded. Savvy managers don’t only ensure that projects stay on track, but also that their workers’ mental health doesn’t get derailed.
7. Bring in extra help. Peak periods — tax season, quarterly reports, year-end closings, etc. — are times when your employees are at their weariest. People can also be overworked when they have to cover for someone on leave or when there’s not enough full-time staff. Consider hiring skilled contractors to take on some of the extra load. Your exhausted employees will thank you for it. And you may even find a great new hire in those interim accountants and analysts.
Working tired is no fun for employees who struggle through the day, or for managers who have to deal with sluggish performance and low morale. By adopting some smart strategies, you can help your team remain fully rested and wide awake each day.
This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at www.roberthalf.com/blog.
Robert Half and its three financial divisions — Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Robert Half Management Resources — are the exclusive partner for financial staffing services through the AICPA Member Discount Program. Get the 2019 Salary Guide and save on specialized staffing services for your business. Learn more about the Robert Half AICPA member discount program.