Just in Time for Memorial Day Weekend – Tips on How to De-Stress

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The number one stressor plaguing financial professionals has more to do with their home life than their balance sheets and client lists, according to a new survey.

The study of 1,400 chief financial officers across the country conducted by the Accountemps division of Robert Half International finds that four out of 10 (41 percent) financial professionals want to have a better balance between work and personal demands.

Number two on the stressor hit parade is dealing with office politics or conflicts with coworkers, cited by nearly three in 10 (28 percent). Following that is number three, keeping current with changing accounting and finance regulations (16 percent). Interestingly, all of these factors were considered more stressful than such issues as a larger workload to tackle.

So, what can we do about all that stress?

Dawn Fay, a district president with Robert Half International in New York believes the number one coping skill is learning to say “No” in certain circumstances and in the proper manner.

“It’s important to understand your role in the company’s deadlines and priorities and communicate about those,” she tells eFinancialCareers.

Financial pros need to plan ahead for when times get busy, such as tax season and end of quarters. You might not be able to take on every project, but you can sit down with your managers and your team in advance of the crunch periods and discuss prioritizing, delegating or shifting duties. Often, delegating to someone who’s learning the ropes will be hugely beneficial to that individual, Fay observes.

Moreover, she says, once you’re in better control of your workflow, you’ll have a better read on when you can afford to take time away from the office and how to plan your vacation for a time when you won’t spend half of it answering phone calls and e-mails.

Here are five tips for de-stressing at work:

  • Know your employer's priorities: Keep abreast of which initiatives are most critical to the firm's success in order to prioritize your own responsibilities.

  • Take advantage of (or recommend) benefits like flex time: Familiarize yourself with alternate work arrangements or other benefits your employer may provide. For example, can you telecommute or adopt a more flexible schedule? When approaching your manager about adding these offerings, present a business case that also details how the firm will benefit from giving employees more flexibility in when and how work gets done.

  • Learn to say no: If you can't take on a new project, let your manager know. Explain the situation, and, if needed, offer to shift some of your responsibilities to accommodate the new request. “Your boss would rather know upfront than see a project fall through the cracks,” says Acccountemps.

  • Put personal events on your work calendar: Try to block out your schedule when you need to attend to personal activities or errands, and talk to your manager about it in advance.

  • Unplug: Set aside times when you can take real time away from the office. Stay away from work e-mail and list an alternate contact in your out-of-office message.
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