Stressed accounting clients are out there, everywhere, and it is more common than you think it is. Others deal with it differently, and how we deal with it is what determines the outcome.
In 2020, of British adults in employment – a staggering 79% commonly experience work-related stress.
But stress is personal, too. Generations have different stressors that impact them. If you look at the Gen Z’s, many still live at home because they can’t afford to get on the property ladder. They have student tuition fee debt; they are already starting their lives under a cloud when you would have thought they should have the least stress of all the generations combined.
Presently, 57% of all workdays lost are due to illness from “work-related stress” according to a study in the UK (Health and safety executive figures 2019). And that’s before we take into consideration the impact of Covid-19. And when everyone is stressed so are your accounting clients.
When discussing stress, the one significant factor we wanted to highlight is the “domino effect” that is specifically aimed at the accounting industry. The accounting industry has just as much everyday stress to deal with accounting clients and their demands.
Commonly asked questions like:
- “I want to pay as little taxes as possible” or
- “Why do I have to pay so much?”
- “When will my return be done by? Tomorrow?” (when only receiving the documents within the last 24 hours)
Apart from those “normal stressors”, accountants now have the burden of an over-stressed system caused by the international pandemic.
Accounting client finds themselves primarily on the small business side to be in a heap of trouble because corporate bailouts don’t seem to reach the lower tiers, and are generally saved for the more prominent entities.
These small and medium businesses are in severe financial trouble. They reach out to their accountants to help with online governmental financial applications – mainly those primed at debt management or business survival.
Not the usual work tasks that you would find in an accountant’s typical day or client relationship.
In most cases, accountants get to know their clients very well and having to deal with these very tough situations becomes quite a personal journey for them.
They are exacerbated by the fact that accountants are not trained to handle these situations in these instances.
So what can be done on a professional level and what can be done on a personal level with stressed accounting clients?
Let’s first examine what can be done to assist accountants professionally.
- As an accountant, you should contact your local/ national accounting association. Many are offering webinars and more support for dealing with accounting clients.
- Sit down together as a team and discuss how the shared experience can benefit the team dynamic as you all share the same experiences.
On a personal level
- Think of all the things at work that make you unhappy and what changes could be made to solve those issues.
- Talk to your employer, talk about the issues that affect you and what you think the possible solutions are. It’s likely that many in management have similar problems and can identify with your issues. Management probably missed that you were unhappy and will appreciate that you’ve raised the issues.
- Pick up a hobby like Yoga, meditation or Tai Chi for example to relieve stress.
This might even lead to a point where you will want to change a job or role to alleviate this.
What can be done to make your life easier? (Great tips from Cy Resourcing)
- Have clear plans and effective systems in place. Consider using technology like Uku, which has a very clear task plan with a calendar with a checklist, so one never misses what’s important.
- Ensure others understand your plans and work with them too, for example providing their figures in good time.
- Decide what is essential and/or urgent and prioritise effectively – agree with your boss the order and then don’t allow less important issues to distract you from the priorities. Again, look at a tool like Uku to prioritise the tasks done on a monthly/weekly basis.
- Beware of being too helpful- the super supportive colleague whom everyone turns to, conveniently forgetting you are in the middle of an urgent reconciliation. It is OK to say yes, I will help you, but after I have done x & y.
- Have breaks from work – e.g. don’t eat lunch at your desk, do go and have a walk, get some air and take the time to ensure you eat healthily.
- Outside of work, make sure you dedicate time to exercise, relaxing activities and completely switch off from work.
- Consider getting a pet, but not one that will add to your stress in the demands of caring for it!
Uku is an excellent tool for relieving stress for accountants in their everyday day worklife..
Digitisation and using technology per se to handle the ‘heavy lifting’ of stress-related issues relieves work-place stress. This is because job deadlines, tasks management, time management and getting the critical tasks done on time, leaves you with a feeling of accomplishment…. and frankly less stressed.