CFO and Technology » CFOs should “scope, simplify and automate” in efforts to reduce burnout

CFOs should “scope, simplify and automate” in efforts to reduce burnout

The process of simplifying and automating work goes a long way in reducing the risk of burnout in the finance team

Those now tasked with the challenge of keeping their staff motivated and connected should look to “scope, simplify and automate” in their efforts to steer clear of employee burnout, according to Michael Polaha, senior vice president of finance solutions and technology at BlackLine.

“It goes into the principle of simplifying and eliminating [parts of] the work, as some of these activities are not really necessary for the business, [and automating those that can be which] is the best formula [in helping to reduce burnout],” he says.

The increase in internal management requirements and demands companies have seen in the past few years, including evolving business models and new strategic partnerships, places more demand on finance and accounting teams – all of which have the increased potential of reaching a point of burnout, he says.

In fact, 63 percent of managers in the finance sector have suffered from burnout at work since the UK went into lockdown and 26 percent of those have considered quitting due to the strain of their mental wellbeing, according to research by Benenden Health.

Finance is a naturally high-stress job, but employees reach burnout when they are under prolonged periods of tension, and are left feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally drained.

Automating processes allows the finance team to spend more time interpreting the finance data enabling them to play a more strategic and valuable role within the company, adds Polaha.

Increased risk of human errors

Employee burnout can have a negative impact on talent retention; however, it also increases the risk of errors in compliance and reporting, says Polaha.

“The amount of work to put some of those complex data blending situations together through [the company’s] systems mean you’re subject to human error when someone’s tired or working under stress.”

Senior finance leaders run the risk of being subject to analytics that are either incorrect or late which impacts their ability to instruct and inform the business properly, says Polaha. Businesses can best respond to this challenge by investing in technology to reduce the manual burden of the finance team’s tasks.

Companies that have invested in optimising their data process and technology architecture have a strategic advantage in being able to offset some of the new demands, meaning employees can focus on the value-added tasks, says Polaha.

“There’s an opportunity [for corporates] to really look at ways of working, both process and how you’re utilising your financial systems to be able to reduce some of the demand on the finance function by automating areas of work that lend itself properly to that type of an approach.”

Developing a transition architecture

Senior finance leaders should partner with their technology partners within the organisation to create a digital transformation and implementation roadmap to limit disruption to the team, says Polaha.

“From my experience having worked in large digital transformations, they are most successful if you take people out of their day-to-day job, put them full time on the transformation effort because you need them involved to develop and optimise the new process and technology.”

In doing this, it’s important to invest in backfill to ensure the company’s operations can continue running. Companies will also need to select a systems integrator to help staff augment, guide and ensure the transformation is occurring as planned.

Businesses should look to find the right balance between working out the staffing that’s needed on a transformation program versus what can be bought through a systems integrator, explains Polaha.

“That’s a little more of an art than a science but you need to make sure you have the right combination of capabilities in that situation to be successful, while not jeopardising the ability to support the day-to-day operations,” he adds.

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