Something that we had explored in our webinar on the return to normal and discussed in our blog titled Three Ways Controllers Have Kept Things Running Smoothly during the Pandemic, the mental health of your employees matters now more than ever.

“One of the most common topics discussed throughout our Controllers Roundtable event was the topic of mental health. In a time when layoffs, furloughs, and reduction in force initiatives are on the table, when social interaction is rare, and when anxiety over a global pandemic is consistent, it’s vital to keep everyone in touch. Focusing on connection and compassion will go a long way to keep your people focused and productive.”

But this was months ago. People had planned for a return to normal long ago—back when we had thought that the state leadership would have settled with flattening the curve, preventing deaths, or reducing the mortality rate. But with many states refusing to reopen until there’s a vaccine or zero percent positivity rate, the lockdowns have continued. Understandably, this has put mental strain on your workforce. However, there are ways to keep your people motivated, confident, and productive.

As noted in the articled in Financial Management Magazine titled Pandemic Performance Strategies for Finance Leaders, there are a variety of ways to keep people content even during the pandemic.

Don’t Underestimate Continued Worry about Remote Work

Pre-pandemic, many CFOs were uncomfortable with the idea of distributed workforces and changed or decentralised processes, according to Omar Choucair, CPA, the CFO at Trintech, a US company that provides financial close software.

“The best CFOs … are embracing and accelerating their adoption of next generation technology by investing in the digitalisation of the finance function, understanding things will not go back to ‘the way they were’,” he said.

Don’t Lose Focus on Relationships

If the role of financial guardian is changing, so too is the need to actively look out for the wellbeing of finance professionals.

“Understanding a teammate’s situation and showing empathy and respect goes a long way. It is always good to check in regularly and clarify expectations with team members. The important thing is to create a culture where team members can ask for help, professionally and personally.”

Don’t Overdo Zoom Meetings

Zoom meetings can leave even the most consummate professional exhausted. As discussed in the article “Why Zoom meetings really do leave you exhausted,” the Journal of Accountancy looked at a trend called Zoom Fatigue, noting that remote work agreements have harmed a lot of employees.

When interviewing Marc Staut, Chief Innovation Officer at Boomer Consulting, Staut highlighted the dangers of Zoom Fatigue, a phenomena caused by remote work and video calls.

“It is actually exhausting, more exhausting, to be watching what we call the Brady Bunch view, or all the different squares on a videoconference, than it is to actually be interacting with the same number of people in person,” Staut said. “You are trying to focus on each and every one of those boxes. So if there are 16 people on a videoconference, and you can see all of their faces at the same time, your brain is trying to read their body language, all at the same time, and it is exhausting.”

Don’t Push for Frequent Reporting

Managers need to trust their staff, says CFO, who notes that “When employees have to make frequent reports to their bosses, it raises their anxiety levels and lowers their performance, new research suggests.”

Citing a study from The Accounting Review, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Accounting Association, CFO notes that despite the idea that frequent reporting “enhances the timeliness and therefore usefulness of the reported information for decision-making,” it also is heavily correlated with burnout. As noted in Frequent Worker Reporting Lowers Worker Performance,

“High frequency, the study concludes, serves to increase “avoidance orientation,” defined as “an individual’s tendency to focus on avoiding unfavorable judgments of competence” rather than on developing competence for the work at hand.”

Keep Your Staff Focused: Leading the Charge with Advice from Controllers Council

Motivation is a management skill that few leaders have. If you’re looking to keep your top performers on board and productive as we approach a return to normal, we invite you to join us for all the latest. Get to know more about the benefits of joining the Controllers Council here.

Additional Resources

Planning Your Reentry: HR Tips for Getting Back to Work

How Controllers Can Approach HR Initiatives During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Why the Controller Role is More Important Than Ever—The Decline of Accountant CFOs