'Credit the Giver' is a golden rule in accounting. And to a far extent, most accountants take the rule quite seriously – applying it to more than just their books. Accountants acknowledge their clients, their employees, their state-of-the-art accounting software – but often forget to credit themselves.
So, in light of the Mental Health Awareness Month, we are redefining selflessness and self-care in the accounting industry and showing how accountants are building resilience during crisis by choosing self-care over overwork, stress and pressure.
To make a point, we went around the industry and asked accountants in the UK and across the pond in the US, about how they were prioritizing mental health and self-care while working from home. The responses we got were refreshing, inspiring and reflected the resilience in the global accounting community. These accountants value their mental well-being, encourage self-care among team members and some are even re-defining the concept of self-care into a more inclusive notion of collective care – all while working from home. Here’s what they said:
Joe Gallard, Co-Founder & CEO, Reducer
“For many of us, working from home five days a week is a brand new concept that has taken some getting used to. It’s understandable that this new normal can take a toll on our wellbeing. As an accountant and the CEO of Reducer, there have certainly been times where I feel swamped by my workload whilst trying to stay on top of the latest news in business and finance.
To stay in a good headspace, the most important thing for me is creating clear boundaries between my work day and home life. That means making a separate space to work in, setting strict timings, and refraining from constantly checking my phone for work updates when it hits 5:30. Making sure I’ve got clear time set aside for myself is vital for ensuring I don’t feel overwhelmed by work, so it’s important that I stick to an organised schedule.
Having people to talk to is also vital for not succumbing to isolation. Luckily, I have a great team around me and it seems we talk more now than ever before! Regular video calls, phone calls, and a vibrant group chat helps us to feel connected and also helps our company to run smoothly despite the long distance. I make sure that I contact each team daily, and am always on call for anyone who needs a chat, as are they for me.
In my personal time, going for walks and cycling (while keeping to restrictions) have kept me in a good mood and are also a perfect way to break up the work day when I feel stuck in a rut.
I think a general rule of thumb to take charge of your mental health is to make time for yourself to do anything that’s not related to work, but also to practice good communication with friends, family and even colleagues who can offer their best support.”
Francesca Tricarico, Managing Director, Future Cloud Accounting Limited
“I think the best way that I have personally dealt with this testing situation is to keep busy.
I've been looking at inspiring posts, exercising at home early. Drinking loads of water. Walking every day. Who knew press ups were so hard but good!!?
If I've had a bad day I try not to drag it out and start the next day with a fresh outlook. I've been playing feel good songs too! We have twice weekly team updates and check ins.
I've made new friends on social media too.”
Graeme Tennick, Partner, Graeme Tennick & Co Accountants
“In such troubled times as these every accountant is faced with being asked so many challenging questions all at the same time by all of their clients whilst also battling with maintaining their own business.
Now more than ever the right support networks around us in terms of team, technology and externally family and friends is massive alongside healthy living.”
Alex Falcon, CEO & Founder, Soaring Falcon Accountancy
“In terms of the wellbeing side of things – I make sure everyone has adequate tools to do their job – the tech tools, the apps – all these things contribute making sure they can work safely.
We take care of ourselves and show support for each other in many ways. We send each other wellbeing packs with bath soaps, hand creams, lotion - things to remind each other to take care of ourselves.
On the personal end, I make sure to exercise or go for walks, runs. I attend personal training sessions online, group sessions etc. I have gotten into doing meditation in the garden and I sometimes do yoga.
I also like to do some charity work and food deliveries where I help out kids and families – who are especially struck during the crisis. It’s truly helps to help someone out and know that you’ve significantly contributed in making sure they are safe. Besides, I love hearing the stories of the kids – they are lovely! One of them wants to attend the Cambridge University one day because she thinks that’s probably where Harry Potter went.”
Sharon Pocock, MD & Chief Innovator, Kinder Pocock Chartered Certified Accountants
“My first thought as the pandemic started to affect us in the UK was for my clients. As we were hearing that this may affect us, I realised how desperately worried they would be. So our first act was to get on the phone and speak to all of them. Just to listen to them, and then to put a plan of action in place, and constantly reassure them.
But what I also realised very early on was that I was expecting my team to put themselves on the front line talking to anxious business owners, when they too were dealing with this strange situation.
So I made sure that I kept asking how my team were doing, and encouraging them to put themselves and their loved ones' wellbeing first. We all talk every morning on zoom, and share silliness on WhatsApp. I'm also having regular one to ones with them. I try to send them things regularly, to show how much I appreciate them. Last week they each got something different: a paddling pool, a pizza delivery and flowers.”
Sarah Elliot, Co-Founder & Principal, Intend2Lead LLC
“As we work from home with higher levels of stress than usual, creating self-care rituals is more important than ever. A strong morning routine that nourishes your body, mind and spirit can expand your energy and change the entire trajectory of your day. Some nourishing activities are exercise/movement, meditation/mindfulness, gratitude, and reading/listening to something that inspires you. Choose a few simple activities that feel good and doable to you, so you can create a routine that makes you excited to start your day!
Being a healthy leader starts with being a healthy human being. By investing in yourself and your well-being, you're bringing more of YOU to the world. Your well-being sets an example for others. When you thrive, you inspire those around you to thrive.”
Priyesh Shavdia, Partner, Kings Mill Partnership
“For me, it’s important to keep some kind structure to my day and week. I try to still wake up at the same time as I would when I was working in the office, take exercise when possible and take regular breaks.
The hardest part of all of this is the social aspect, being so used to seeing our full team of 20 people daily to then nothing! We have weekly calls with all partners and management team, plus we check in on all staff to see how they are doing and coping.
But the key driver for me in maintaining my mental health has been learning when to switch off. It’s very easy to just continue working when you are at home, but I have tried to make it a rule to log off as per the normal working day to then spend time with the family.”
Liz Briggson, CPA, Encoursa
“One way accountants are taking care of their mental health is by dedicating certain spaces to work from while at home.
Having dedicated spaces to work, relax and enjoy free time helps in creating boundaries in your mind and doesn’t disrupt the balance. Taking breaks to get outside for exercise and fresh air is also a must to give yourself a break from the confines of your house and helps to detach yourself from thinking about work.”
Dishant Desai, CEO, QXAS Limited
“I have always thought of accountants as givers. We do all that we can – for our clients, our employees and our firm. But amid all this, we often forget to look after ourselves.
When work from home began, there was a lot of responsibility on me as an accountant, a decision maker and an employer of more than 400 accountants – but I knew that the resilience that I wanted to see in my clients, employees and the business – started from within myself. I make sure that I don’t blurr the lines between work and home.
I plan my meetings in advance, even when working from home. I try to replicate the existing office environment as much as I can – so that I can keep the balance between work and home.
We usually take a one-hour break at office but at home, it’s important to take small breaks throughout the day – to give equal time to family. I also feel that work-from-home isn’t as bad for accountants because we like to work without distraction (mostly, when processing). You also have more time when working from home, so it’s important that you invest it in picking up that hobby or learning something new, not related to work, of course.
Remember – Rest and reflection are way more important in running your remote firm than working round the clock, without pause.”
Resting isn’t slacking off; nor is refusing to work out of hours to spend time with family. In short, self-care isn’t selfishness.
We’re now treading fast into the future of the accounting industry – with state-of-the-art accounting software and now, tools that let you run your firm from home. It’s important we also take the same progressive approach to combat the parochial culture of overwork and results.
Working from home was jarring, at first, for most of us in the accounting community – just the clash of bringing work into a space of rest. But one look at these responses by accountants who are owners, leaders and decision makers – tells us that working from home is a great chance for accountants to rediscover the importance of self-care, work-life balance, and why investing in yourself is a long-term investment in your firm’s future.
My name is Rishmita and I’m an aspiring journalist and blogger. I love telling stories – of people and brands. When I’m not too busy typing out incessantly on the computer, you’ll find me reading some old American classics or petting some furry stray cats.