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Posted by Formulate - A Kainos company on 02/12/20 13:55

Working in finance can be stressful. Recent research shows that four out of five Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) say stress levels in their job are rising.

Research by recruitment company Robert Half found that the majority of CFOs see their jobs becoming more stressful in the next 24 months and key factors include larger workloads, higher business expectations and staffing shortages. The survey suggests that pressures are increasing on CFOs across the globe.

reduce workplace stress

Rising stress levels

There's no denying it, CFOs are some of the most stressed executives in any organisation. They make sure that the company's finances are at the optimal level, financial risks and controls are correctly handled, and that the books are always kept in check. CFOs also play managerial roles in the finance department as they oversee their performance and mentor future finance leaders. Finally, they are also expected to contribute to the overall business strategy and leadership.


78 per cent of British CFOs predict an increased level of stress


With so many responsibilities on their plate, it is understandable that CFO stress levels are rising. Managing stress is not as straightforward as it seems. You need a continuous and conscious effort to keep your stress levels at bay and prevent it from interfering with your job as a CFO. Hopefully, these stress management tips will come in handy when you need them the most!


"In life, there's always a solution to a problem".

Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster.


1: Work Smarter, not harder

A study conducted by the American Institute for Stress reveals that unmanageable workload contributes to 46% of the leading causes of workplace stress. As a CFO, it is normal to have a lot of things on your plate, but these should always be manageable. If you find yourself still lacking time for everything else other than work, then you have a problem.

To address work overload, you should evenly delegate whatever tasks you can to your team, automate routine and manual tasks. A modern cloud-based FP&A system such as Workday Adaptive Planning is a great way to lighten up your load, and that of your team, so you can focus in addressing more complex issues that need your full attention.


2. The right finance team

Nothing relieves a CFO more than knowing that there is a capable finance and accounting team behind them. While hiring the right people every time remains every manager's dream, you can always turn some of your employees into the best finance and accounting professionals in the industry.

Spending time with them, keeping them motivated, and recognising significant achievements will surely help them go the distance. Set aside a part of your schedule to mentor your team, and you'll reap the benefits with them in no time at all.

3. Be clear about goals and expectations

The worst thing about stress is that it can distract us from reaching the goals that we set out to accomplish. In the heat of the moment, even the most experienced professionals can forget about the necessary steps in hitting their targets, and even the most basic tasks they have in hand.

Set realistic goals with your team and make sure that everyone is on the same page. These keep you aligned with your team in every step of the way, and provide checks to ensure that tasks are handled properly.

As much as you can, end your meetings with clear and finalised decisions and points-of-action. Doubts and issues should be addressed during the meetings.

4. Continue to learn

Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside, such as learning a new software platform or a new sport, helps build confidence. This will help you deal with stress.

"By continuing to learn, you become more emotionally resilient as a person,"

Professor Cary Cooper

"It arms you with knowledge and makes you want to do things rather than be passive, such as watching television."

Reading is a great way to learn and is and is proven to relax your body by lowering your heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles. A study by the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. Why not take a look at our must read books for CFO's.

5. Company culture

Do you still feel like a conscious human being whenever you are in the office? Or do you see yourself as a machine programmed to accomplish the job requirements? If you agree with the latter, then you have to re-evaluate your corporate culture.

In an article published by the American Institute for Stress on work-life balance highlighted that employee issues at work contribute to 48% of the main causes of stress in the workplace. It is worth taking time to check if your corporate culture still caters to the needs of your employees for proper work-life balance and human interactions or relationships in the workplace.

6. Take a break

No matter how important you are in the company, keep in mind that you still have your limits. It might be hard for you to find ample time in your schedule for a holiday and leisure, but it will be all worth it. Taking time off work to travel, enjoy leisure activities, or to spend time with family and friends de-clutters your mind and resets your entire system. This gives you a fresh and an invigorated disposition once you get back in your office.

7. Avoid unhealthy activities

Don't rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping as in the long term; these crutches won't solve your problems. They'll create new ones. "It's like putting your head in the sand," says Professor Cooper. "It might provide temporary relief, but it won't make the problems disappear. You need to tackle the cause of your stress."

8. Help other people

It's proven that people who help others, through activities such as volunteering or community work, become more resilient to stress.

"Helping people who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective," says Professor Cooper. "The more you give, the more resilient and happy you feel."

Professor Cary Cooper

If you don't have time to volunteer, try to do someone a favour every day. It can be something as small as helping someone cross the road or going on a coffee run for colleagues.

9. Connect with people

A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things differently.

"If you don't connect with people, you won't have support to turn to when you need help,"

Professor Cary Cooper

The activities we do with friends help us relax. We often have a good laugh with them, which is an excellent stress reliever. Talking things through with a friend will also help you find solutions to your problems," says Professor Cooper.

10. 'Me Time'

The UK works the longest hours in Europe, meaning we often don't spend enough time doing things we enjoy. Professor Cooper recommends setting aside a couple of nights a week for some quality "me time" away from work. "By earmarking those two days, it means you won't be tempted to work overtime".

"We all need to take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise,"

Professor Cary Cooper

Be active - Exercise won't make your stress disappear, but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you're feeling, clearing your thoughts and letting you deal with your problems more calmly.


Make change happen

By making changes inside and outside of work, stress can be kept under control, ensuring that mental and physical health remain as high as possible.

The key to reducing stress levels is however, by understanding the root cause and creating an action plan for change. 

A modern cloud-based FP&A system such as Workday Adaptive Planning is a great way to lighten up your load, and that of your team, so you can focus on addressing more complex issues that need your full attention. If you don't think you can afford the time to deliver to implement a new system, then think again. Formulate are Workday Adaptive Planning Platinum Solution providers - meaning we do all the lifting and hard work for you behind the scenes with our team of accountancy qualified consultants. 

Find out more about Gartner leading Workday Adaptive Planning and how it has revolutionised finance departments and transformed the way organisations, forecast, report and plan, all while saying goodbye to Excel hell.

Don't just take our word for it, read the Gartner Peer Reviews and find out for yourself.


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About Formulate

Formulate - a Kainos company are leading UK and European partners for Adaptive Insights. We build and improve forecasting solutions for existing and new users of Adaptive Insights. Our unique set of business pack solutions, alongside our extensive skills in finance, business and software deliver leading forecasting solutions.



Tags: cfo