Burnout in the Business Office: How AP Automation Can Help
It’s not uncommon for Accounts Payable (AP) pros to feel exhausted from time to time.
But prolonged periods of stress, pressure, and overwork can lead to something more serious: burnout.
Burnout can contribute to decreased productivity, job dissatisfaction, and even physical illness. Left unchecked, employee burnout can make it difficult for a business to scale its operations for growth.
This article provides strategies for preventing burnout in AP.
What is employee burnout?
If you are experiencing depleted energy, reduced efficiency, negative feelings, cynicism, or increased mental distance from your job, chances are that you are experiencing burnout and stress.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chronic stress is the biggest cause of burnout.
Employee burnout isn’t new. But increased demands on employees in the workplace and at home have pushed burnout to an all-time high, the American Psychological Association (APA) reports.
Nearly three out of five U.S. adult workers surveyed by the APA reported psychological harm from work-related stress. Everyone’s risk of burnout and stress is higher these days, APA warns.
AP professionals on the brink:
AP professionals are not immunue from burnout and stress.
More than 75% of AP teams are processing more invoices these days, the Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM) reports. Additionally, 50% of AP pros are working longer hours to handle the additional work. 13% of AP pros are working an additional two hours per day. The rest of AP teams are adding staff or automating to help with the increased workload.
It’s no surprise that burnout would be a big risk for AP staff when you consider the long hours, unrelenting compliance rules, mundane tasks, and work-from-home stressors that they face.
AP pros spend most of their workday bogged down with mind-numbing manual tasks such as:
- Manual data entry. AP pros waste lots of time manually keying (and re-keying) invoice data into spreadsheets and accounting software. According to IOFM, manual data entry is the task that AP practitioners would most like to eliminate from their workday.
- Fixing errors and mistakes. A single typo or transposed number can lead to big headaches downstream and result in more time wasted investigating and resolving the issue.
- Chasing down approvals. Determining who must approve an invoice is time-consuming and error-prone. And AP pros must stay on top of purchasers to keep approvals moving.
- Reconciliation. Manually reconciling invoices and bank accounts can be tedious.
- Reporting. It’s not unusual for AP pros to spend hours pulling data from multiple sources to create spreadsheet reports for management and other stakeholders. With so much riding on budgets and cash forecasts, AP pros can feel tremendous pressure to get things right.
Each of these tasks is stressful. Together, they can contribute to burnout among AP staff.
How to avoid burning out your staff:
Burnout effects more than the employee. It also impacts the overall effectiveness of a department. Fortunately, there are several strategies that AP leaders can use to prevent burnout among their staff:
- Encourage breaks. Sitting at a desk for long hours without any breaks can be exhausting, especially when staff are engaged in manual, repetitive tasks. Encourage frontline staff to take periodic breaks to stretch their muscles, clear their mind, and hydrate. Team-building activities such as team lunches and group activities also can help with employee well-being.
- Promote relaxation. Relaxation is critical to helping employees stay alert and focused. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can help employees feel relaxed and refreshed. Allow employees to build time for relaxation into their schedule.
- Keep tabs on your staff’s workload. AP leaders are under pressure to do more with less. But putting too much on your frontline staff’s plate can lead to stress and eventual burnout. Be sure to delegate tasks evenly to avoid exceeding an employee’s maximum capacity.
- Be flexible. Flexible work arrangements can help AP staff work at their pace and maintain balance between their work and homelife. Consider allowing employees to work remotely. And try to adjust workday hours when possible so staff can handle personal obligations.
- Be supportive. Few things overwhelm frontline staff more than feeling like they don’t have the skills necessary to do their job well. Improve staff productivity and engagement – and avoid potential burnout – by offering staff ongoing training and support. And periodically ask employees about areas where they could use additional training, support, and resources.
- Empower staff with the tools for success. Leverage tools like finance automation to streamline AP processes and eliminate tedious manual tasks. With automation implemented, staff can focus on high-value tasks that are impactful to your organization.
Frontline AP staff are the backbone of the finance department. The strategies outlined in this article will help your employees manage their workload and avoid the possibility of burnout and stress.
To learn more about how Paymerang’s AP Automation solution can help prevent burnout in your finance department, schedule a demo now.