Technology and the rise of remote working have eroded traditional boundaries that helped create a separation between work and home life. The result is that finance professionals are working longer hours.
For those now hybrid working, leaving the office is no longer synonymous with leaving work; emails can still be accessed on the go, meaning work can often end up creeping into home life.
Research conducted by Westfield Health last year found that billions of additional hours had been worked throughout the pandemic, which left almost half (46%) of workers close to burnout.
‘The research painted a worrying picture about the toll the pandemic has taken on workers’ mental health and the impact of remote working, as people working from home were found to be more at risk of burnout than those going into the workplace,’ says Vicky Walker, director of people at Westfield Health.
‘In accountancy, banking and finance, over half of respondents felt close to exhaustion. In addition, 71% of people working in this sector worked more hours throughout the pandemic, with 46% now wanting a career break due to the pressures felt throughout Covid.’
While stress is inevitable in life, it is essential to manage it, to allow people to perform at their optimum levels. Recent years have seen a real push to remove the stigma around mental health and many companies have adjusted their culture to reflect this.
Stress levels and workload management should be a regular point of discussion in employee one-to-ones and catch-ups, while businesses should perform stress risk assessments to ensure they are prepared to take action when stress strikes.
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Trainees should try to prioritise their work-life balance and shouldn’t hesitate to reach out if support is needed. Your workplace might have ‘mental health first aiders’ trained to offer a listening ear, or you might feel more comfortable reaching out to a friend or colleague.
Research suggests that the top three offerings to prevent employees from switching or leaving their jobs are flexible/remote working, a pay rise and better wellbeing support.
Flexible working will allow workers to adjust working patterns, take time off or speak to a health professional.
If your workplace doesn’t offer flexible working, make sure you plan your day to have sufficient breaks that allow you to switch off from work. Muting notifications outside of work hours may also help, especially at the weekend.
Walker advises: ‘Active people are more likely to be physically and mentally fit and healthy. Put simply, exercise makes you feel good. Physical activity can take many forms – you don’t have to be a gym fanatic; you can still expend energy and keep fit doing housework, gardening or walking.
‘Your workplace may offer cycle-to-work schemes or support employees to form corporate sports teams. You could even think about launching specific exercise initiatives.’
If not, try to incorporate some form of physical activity when planning your days. Not only will this help boost your wellbeing, it will also be easier for you to put your phone down, stop checking emails and switch off from work.
This article was first published in Student Accountant in March 2022