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Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable: Tips for Avoiding Burnout


Posted on January 5, 2015 by Kirk Dresen

While almost any career on the planet can suffer from the effects of burnout, those in positions that are both demanding and predictable, like those working in the back office with accounts receivable or accounts payable, can find themselves in the perfect storm of being worn thin.

Burnout on the Rise

According The Huffington Post, burnout is an epidemic, one that we’re seeing the effects of worldwide, though Americans seem to be bearing the brunt, working longer hours than their Australian, Canadian and western European counterparts. Add to that, the fact that the U.S. is the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation and only industrialized country to not guarantee paid parental leave and we have all the ingredients for mass burnout at the ready.

USA Today reports that workplace burnout is on the rise everywhere, with no signs of ending anytime soon. Regardless of your occupation, experiencing elevated stress levels, long work hours, being unsure of your company’s rules and procedures and feeling unappreciated or devalued can lead to the feelings of fatigue, lethargy, lack of motivation and dissatisfaction associated with being burned out.

ComPsych Corporation, the world’s largest provider of employee assistance programs, shared the results of their recent StressPulseSM survey, which highlighted that some 64 percent of employees are reporting high levels of stress while 29 percent missed 3 to 6 days per year due to stress and 16 percent missed more than 6 days per year due to chronic stress.

ComPsych’s Chairman and CEO, Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz says,“Sustained, high levels of stress [can] have a deleterious effect on work product as well as physical health.”

As one of the most integral positions in your organization, it’s important to make sure you’re taking care to minimize the possibility of burnout.

Here are 6 tips to avoid burnout in A/R and A/P

1. Set realistic goals: While being a perfectionist may sound good on paper, in regular practice it can not only move you one step closer to burning out but it can undermine your overall productivity by slowing down progress. Combat perfectionism by setting realistic and attainable goals that will help you gain a sense of accomplishment

2. Keep great records: Part of a successful accounts receivable and accounts payable department is the ability to access accurate and pertinent information quickly. Making sure to take good notes when speaking with your customers or vendors, filing information back where it goes and running regular reports will keep you one step ahead of the game and make it that much easier to resolve issues with your customers or vendors. When your job runs smoothly, burnout is less likely.

3. Variety keeps it fresh: While there is enough variety of work in any A/R or A/P department to keep your mind stimulated, if you do the same thing every day, at the same time – you could be headed for burnout, or at the very least boredom. Try grouping like tasks together and scheduling them for 1 or 2 specific days per week, spaced out from one another. This will give you an opportunity to feel like each day at work is a little different than the last – breaking up the repetitiveness of your days.

4. Get Physical: Stand, walk around the office, get sips of water, use the bathroom and take a stroll on your breaks or spend time after-hours getting your fitness on. Studies have repeatedly shown that regular exercise helps reduce stress and anxiety and promotes overall feelings of well-being

5. Don’t take it personal: A/R and A/P professionals have a tough job when it comes to calling customers about overdue or outstanding balances or answering vendor calls about payments. It’s your job to smile like you mean it when you’re on those calls. So before you sit down or dial the number, be sure to take a minute to center yourself, smile into a mirror and then dial. Just a few moments preparation can greatly shift your attitude AND the conversation, helping you to resolve your outstanding accounts. Remember your customers and vendors are people too – they’re having a rough day, juggling multiple pressures and overdue bills and invoices – remind yourself this is NOT about you and don’t take it personal.

6. Rejuvenate after-hours: When it’s time to clock out, leave the workday behind. Schedule at least one night a week out with friends for dinner or a walk after work, exercise, spend time with family and discover new hobbies and pursuits. The things you do to feed yourself outside of work will shore you up for the next new day or week ahead.

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