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Build better mental health and wellbeing structures in accountancy

An accountancy firm’s greatest asset is the people who work within it.

They create the bonds that tie clients with your business. They create the leads that bring in new income streams. They are your service.

And a firm that neglects to look after the mental health and wellbeing of their team is the firm that won’t retain their staff and will find themselves firefighting to the point of overwhelm.

So it’s a simple formula really.

A skilled and diverse team of talented accountants + a first class support package of health and wellbeing = a thriving firm.

We’re not actually accountants at Public Practice Recruitment Ltd but you’re probably really impressed with our maths!

But as with all things HR, it sounds really easy on paper doesn’t it? But how do you actually create a first class package of health and wellbeing without sacrificing your profits?

The answer is that you don’t.

Start up practices that turn into thriving firms all had one thing in common at the start of their business journey, they re-invested everything they earned into their people. But in time (and usually not that much time) that investment pays off and you’ll find that there’s plenty of profit to allow for healthy dividends for those at the helm as well as ongoing investment into the firm’s most important asset, it’s people!

So there’s tip number one – invest in your people. Prepare to invest or prepare to fail – you can’t have both!

And once you’ve made that decision that you’ll need to put your money where your mouth is to create a package of wellbeing and mental health support for your workforce, here’s some ideas about how and where to spend it.

Take a look at your team and how they work together. Stress in the workplace is often a result of conflict and unnecessary conflict can be sparked when the personality mix of your teams isn’t balanced. Invest in a space, refreshments, a personality mix audit and  possibly a facilitator for a company away day and consider the results as a team. They can be fascinating and you’ll find that your employees start to be more mindful of the way those around them work and make decisions.

You’ll also find the results give you a really clear picture of what kinds of personalities you’re missing in your teams which, in turn can shape your hiring decisions going forward.

And while you’re on your away day take some time to create a snapshot of your workforce’s mental health and wellbeing. If you’re on a mission to improve it you’ll want to know what matters most to them and also to create a benchmark to measure future investment against.

So ask them questions about it one on one or send out anonymous surveys.

If the results showcase that your staff feel bored and like the working week is repetitive consider what you might do about that.

Could you employ a yoga instructor to come in once a week to encourage them to pause and re-calibrate?

Or could your team take it in turns to book a different speaker or practitioner every week to offer a 45 minute session on a whole heap of non accountancy relevant topics – maybe a quick cooking class or a talk on compassion or a floristry workshop? Something different every week to break up the inevitable mundanity of the coal face of accounting and make work fun.

If the results showcase that your staff don’t feel like they’re supported to learn and progress within their careers this will affect their wellbeing and is something you can easily fix with an internal succession planning programme. The feeling that you’re part of an organisation that cares about your future is a real contributor to positive mental health and employee wellbeing.

Consider big organisational changes that might help reduce burnout amongst loyal staff who you want to retain. Could you offer a sabbatical to employees with 10 or even 5 years service? Can you make flexible working a standard offering or consider enhanced maternity, paternity or carers leave?

Encourage employees to prioritise their own health, physical and mental. Offer a contribution towards counselling and encourage a practice running club or enter a race or team challenge each year together to raise funds for a charity your staff will be proud to support.

Look at the office if you have one and consider if it’s well set up to promote employee wellbeing. Is there plenty of natural light and are you encouraging staff to work in a physically and mentally healthy way; could stand up desks work, is your workplace accessible to those with a disability?

And if your staff work from home could you make an annual contribution towards their home working environments to allow them to create healthy workspaces?

The last and most important suggestion we have is to invest in your workplace culture.

Time and time again we see firms shelling out on fancy IT equipment and offering their teams huge salaries in exchange for endless hours at their desks, when what most people really want and need in order to be happy and healthy at work; is trust, praise and recognition. Incorporate plentiful opportunities to deliver that into your workplace strategy and we’re pretty sure you’ll be half way there.

At Public Practice Recruitment Ltd we want to be sourcing brilliant accountants to fill your vacant posts. But even better than that, we really want to be placing those accountants into firms we know will look after them. It’s in our interest to develop this kind of trust with our candidates and we’ll encourage them to ask these important questions about wellbeing at interview and to feel confident they’ll be well looked after.

So in a candidate led job market there’s so many reasons to keep your workforce healthy and well and we’re always on hand to offer our clients support and advice in doing just that. In fact we have a heap of other resources on just that topic so if you found value in this article, we’re pretty sure you’ll love these too:

How to avoid business burnout.

How important is wellbeing at work to accountants?

Employee Value Proposition E-Guide.

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