5 Reasons Why Your Finance Team May Be Stressed and How to Combat it

In Business Management Software by Sophie Galtress

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Today is National Stress Awareness Day, and we wanted to highlight some of the reasons why your finance team may be stressed, and some of the best ways to combat that stress.

Everyone gets stressed now and again, and some find it really difficult to manage. You may feel as though you have a lot going on and that you’re feeling under too much pressure.

In this blog, we’re going to give you some tips on how to work through the stress, and hopefully whenever the next time you’re feeling a little bit under pressure, like that song by David Bowie and Queen, (Pressure, pushin’ down on you) you’ll use these tips on how to manage stress!

Signs of Stress

Firstly, some of the signs that you or someone you know within your finance team may be stressed may show signs of:

  • Snappiness – someone could say the wrong thing at the wrong time and snap. Everyone does it at some point, and although it’s not nice to be at the receiving end of it, you know they don’t mean it. Give them time to cool off and think things over.
  • Lateness – someone with stress may be late to meetings, as they’ve got a lot on their mind, and they may lose track of time.
  • Loss of motivation – someone with stress may be less motivated to work and won’t contribute as much as they’ve got other things on their mind.

Reasons why your finance team may be stressed

Feeling like you’re constantly closing the books

Closing the books is one of the most time-consuming and the more stressful process for most financial teams.

If you’re in a smaller organisation, we know that you may not have the best technology in helping you to close your Month-End.

It’s been proven that 74% of mid-sized organisations take over a week and between two and five staff members to coordinate their month-end close. This could be from a factor of things, such as:

  • There’s not enough automation, and you’re manually entering accruals and revenue recognition journals. This is labour-intensive, and has very time-consuming activities.
  • There’s no real-time data, so by the time you get an accurate view, it’s out of date. This is no good to anybody once it’s out of date and doesn’t allow you to make informed decisions.
  • The big one which may get you stressed is that you have a lack of processes. When you close a Month-End, it often involves many systems being reconciled and consolidated. This adds pressure to your finance team, especially when you don’t have the time to spare.
  • Lastly, you may be compiling multiple spreadsheets full of formulas and lookups, so you create a consolidated view of company finances. This is prone to human errors, and it’s so time-consuming.

What we first suggest you do, is map out your Month End process. This will give you a top-level view of how long it will take you to close your Month-End. This will allow you to see when you should start a task, and it’s easier to see which tasks take longer than others.

To learn more about the stresses around Month-End close and how to shift to a continuous close with Sage Intacct, click here.

Feeling bogged down in manual processes

Many finance teams today are still carrying out their processes manually. This is a big stress factor and it’s something that you can get rid of by introducing automation to your finance team.

The main four reasons to introduce automation are as followed:

  • Reduce the risk of human error through manual data and re-keying data. This will allow your finance team to not worry about whether they accidentally added an extra 0 to data. It’s something that can keep a person up at night!
  • Improve decision-making from faster reporting and more accurate information, to allow you to make informed decisions. When you get correct and up-to-date data, you can make better decisions for your business.
  • By introducing an automation tool, you’re essentially giving your finance team some time back, so they can focus on more important things, such as month/year-end. You’re also speeding up key processes through automation, so things will run in the background that you don’t have to worry about!

In turn, by introducing an automation tool to your finance team, you’re relieving their stress from them. They won’t have to worry about accidentally keying in the wrong data – as this tool will automatically do it for them.

Drowning in a sea of spreadsheets 

Excel and Google Sheets are two of the favourites for finance teams. They can be very powerful, especially to manage finances.

You can create thousands upon thousands of formulas, automate calculations, and create reports. But they can also become spreadsheet monsters, and you realise you can’t keep on top of them anymore.

Before you get sucked into the world of spreadsheets, you should move away from them. I promise you, it’s so much better.

Some of the reasons you may be stressed with using spreadsheets are that you can’t collaborate with colleagues. You’ll both have different versions of the same spreadsheet, and it just confuses you and everyone within your finance team.

Spreadsheets also take a lot of time to create and maintain. You could be spending hours upon hours, creating the perfect spreadsheet with the best formulas. But now you’re behind on other work because you’ve just spent half a day working on one spreadsheet, alas, leading to stress.

Also, with spreadsheets, there is a considerable risk of human error. You may have to spend a long time going through your data to double-check and make sure that you’ve keyed in all your data correctly. Nobody has time for that.

Lastly, reporting in spreadsheets is NEVER in real-time. By the time you’ve keyed in all your data and set up the perfect spreadsheet, your data is more than likely out of date, and you can’t make informed decisions, this will ultimately lead to high-stress levels.

But don’t worry, we can help!

We have a free workbook you can use to help you audit or review your spreadsheet usage. This will help you figure out how much time is spent on your spreadsheets a month, and how much you’re potentially paying to use these spreadsheets, (it may cost more than you think!)

Top tip – don’t rely on spreadsheets!

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Stuck in the past with out-of-date, inaccurate data

We know how stressful it can be when you don’t have the greatest reporting.

One of the key things you will want to take away from all your data is reporting. You will want to know that everything you’re doing, is working.

There could be a few things stopping you from getting real-time reporting, such as:

  • Spending the first week of the month preparing journals
  • Spending hours preparing spreadsheets
  • Spending all your time exporting data to Excel

If this sounds familiar, you could be spending all your time in the wrong place.

When you have that visibility of your business, you get to see what tasks are being carried out accurately, and the impact that they’re having on your business. It’s truly fantastic.

With this accurate and up-to-date data, you can then make better and more informed decisions. You’re less stressed because you’re not having to spend hours working on spreadsheets for data that is out of date.

If you want to find out more about gaining insight with real-time reporting, click here.

Stuck in a year-end stress cycle

We all know that Year-End is the time of year that almost all finance teams dread. You may work later days, you avoid taking holidays, or you feel extremely stressed about it.

But it happens every year, and you shouldn’t feel like this.

So, what makes it so stressful?

  • Time pressures
  • Accuracy pressures
  • Business pressures
  • Unfamiliarity
  • Uncertainty
  • Pressure to get back to business as usual

Here are some of the things you can do to reduce stress within your finance team around Year End.

The first thing you can do is to prepare well. Some of the things you can do include:

  • Notify your suppliers of the close date for payment to speed up the receipt
  • Pre-prepare potential discounts/payment options
  • Review outstanding purchase orders
  • Pre-year-end meeting and risk assessment
  • Checklists documents and responsibilities assigned

Secondly, reduce uncertainties. As human beings we like certainty, and by reducing the uncertainties, it can be less stressful. When you know it’s coming, and you prepared your team, you’re less stressed, so hopefully, this will help you and your team to communicate and talk to one another on this process.

Thirdly, do it earlier or more regularly. A lot of finance teams will leave reconciliations until the end of the year. But if you do it earlier, and more regularly, you’re dealing with a lot less later in the year. You’re not leaving everything until the last minute which will ultimately stress you and your team out.

Our top tips for combating stress are:

Take frequent breaks

Every hour or so, go and stretch your legs. Get up from your chair and go for a 5/10-minute walk. Whether that’s around the office, or around your living room, just get up and stretch. You’ll feel so much better when you sit back down at your desk, and your mind will focus on other things. If you can, step outside and get some fresh air.

Relaxation techniques

If you feel yourself getting stressed, breathe. Breathe in for 5 seconds, and then breathe out slowly. Repeat until you feel as though you’ve calmed yourself down and you don’t feel as stressed as you were before. It will also help to lower your blood pressure.

Talk to someone

Whether you talk to your boss, colleague, or a family member, it’s good to get things off your chest. If you feel as though you’re under pressure, or you’re ultimately stressed no matter how much work you’re getting done, talk to someone. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

Financial Transformation Live

We currently run monthly financial transformation sessions to help with common challenges finance teams and finance leaders face. Some of these challenges include the reasons we’ve mentioned in this blog! You can go back and watch all of our past sessions here, and follow us on LinkedIn to keep up to date with upcoming sessions, plus, we’ve launched our Financial Transformation Live community group on LinkedIn where you can join forces with like-minded people and discuss all things finance transformation!