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Stress management in accounting: relief through AP invoice automation

AP professionals must verify pertinent vendor data, verify purchasing contracts, and ensure the proper payments are made on-time or early to take advantage of discounts, among dozens of other crucial steps in the AP process. All the while, they’re hounded with supplier inquiries and chasing down approvers in various business units. With the financial health of the company at its fingertips, it’s easy to see why the accounting and AP departments should adopt stress management strategies.  

First, take a deep breath and focus on eliminating stress. Then discover how the accounting department, AP team, and C-suite can all achieve better stress management through AP invoice automation

AP stress factors - dealing with the busy season 

Dealing with the busy season is a significant stress factor for the accounting and AP teams. Facing the fast pace and long hours of month-end and year-end closing is tiring. In the United States, the busy season begins on New Years Day and ends on April 15. A recent study revealed accounting professionals take more sick time in March than any other month of the year. And the other busy season, specifically in retail, starts on Thanksgiving and runs through the Christmas holidays and creates a months-long non-stop crunch time to ensure retail locations and eCommerce are supplied with the resources needed to meet high consumer demand.  

Before the busy season begins, the AP team should be well-prepared to manage stress and stay calm throughout the most hectic days of the year. Try a few of these smart tips for relieving stress during these fast-paced times: 

  • Establish and maintain open communication, mutual respect, and recognition between the C-suite and the AP team 
  • Get up and walk around the office or do stretching exercises every hour to move the body, relieve muscle tension, improve circulation, and regain composure 
  • When everything starts to feel too stressful, it’s time to leave the office and take a short break for some fresh air and sunshine for an instant mood improvement 
  • After being plugging into work for hours unplug everything for awhile - include the personal cell phone - and just decompress quietly, without the distractions of discussion and technology 
  • Take a fifteen-minute break to read a magazine or book and escape from the routine for a little while to return with a fresh perspective 
  • Remind yourself to have a snack, get a glass of water, and use the restroom every couple of hours for proper self-care 
  • When everyone starts to get tired and punchy, take a ten-minute break together to chat about anything unrelated to work 
  • Discover the benefits of being mindful and meditation to let go of stress - newbies can get started by using meditation apps such as Headspace  

One of the most effective ways to reduce stress in the office during the busy season is to invest in the right tools. AP automation helps the AP team save time and increase productivity, to make the load lighter during the most hectic times of the year.  

Encourage personal stress management 

Accounting managers and the C-suite should acknowledge the most stressful times of the year and offer strategies to help employees get through them successfully. Schedule a brief company meeting or send a memo to everyone outlining stress management strategies to empower workers to tackle these tough times without losing ground.    

The Stress at Work Report from NIOSH revealed 40 percent of workers feel their jobs are very or extremely stressful. Employers can help by sharing some of these stress management tips at a meeting or in a memo. 

  • Encourage employees to have reasonable expectations of themselves and recognizing the signs of burnout that occur when someone is more than they are able to take on 
  • Focus on intention and recommend employees set realistic goals for the day, with the thought of achieving them rather than exceeding them during the busiest times of year 
  • Avoid fast food and choose healthy diet options to minimize weight gain and the added stress associated with trying to shed pounds 
  • Fit exercise into the day because it releases endorphins that help to reduce stress naturally - give the employees tips for exercising at work, such as taking walks at lunchtime or doing stretches under the desk 
  • Learn how to let technology do the work for, such as the touchless processes of AP invoice automation solutions 
  • Try meditation or yoga to de-stress - during crunch times, it helps to close your eyes and take three deep breaths in and out to let go of the tension 
  • Design an office that supports productivity and reduces stress with plenty of light and open spaces 

 Use technology to take the stress out of the workplace 

Employees who feel they don’t have the proper tools of the trade should bring it up during the next company meeting. And management should always encourage the team to share bright ideas for improving operations and building a profitable business. For example, AP invoice automation is an investment in the future. As more organizations around the world automate the invoice process, companies who fail to implement this technology will be left behind.  

Management should also have regular discussions about the implementation of cutting-edge technologies to improve workplace productivity and reduce stress. AP automation helps companies attract young talent, such as millennials and Gen Z, who grew up with technology and expect to find it at work. Plus, AP invoice automation increases job satisfaction in the AP department as employees become more involved in strategic work that gives them greater control over their work product to minimize stress.  

Encourage collaboration 

When people have little or no feedback or assistance, stress starts to build. Workers need to connect with others for ideas, information, and inspiration. Implementing technologies such as AP automation supports collaborative efforts. And to foster inter-team learning, hold regular technology sessions to keep updated on new features from cloud technologies, which are automatically updated. 

Cloud AP automation enables team members to work anytime and anywhere, using the devices of their preference. Flexible remote work arrangements save time and reduce stress by improving communications and turnaround time. For example, AP automation solutions help eliminate the long waiting time and ongoing follow-up to get invoice approvals.  

Reduce commuting and encourage remote work opportunities  

A recent survey revealed nearly a quarter of workers left a job because of a bad commute. Technology-driven millennials expect to have remote work opportunities or be able to perform some aspects of the job away from a traditional desk and brick-and-mortar building. AP automation supports remote work opportunities, which eliminates the stress associated with a long commute.   

And reducing commute time is particularly beneficial during the busiest seasons of the year. The time spent commuting is better used to unwind and get rest to face the hectic days or weeks ahead. And touchless processing through AP automation is a sure way to see the AP team relax when the clock is ticking to close the books.  

Each day companies lose talented people and AP employees leave potentially satisfying career opportunities due to stress. Instead of looking the other way, it is crucial to open up a dialogue about how to reduce stress at the workspace. Implement tools such as AP invoice automation to lighten the load and improve work conditions for a thriving company with loyal and happy employees.

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