Employee wellbeing continues to be an issue as finance executives feel fatigued and jaded after having worked harder in the last 12 months than they’ve ever done before, said ACCA when releasing results of a survey.
“The finance profession has experienced a ‘five years in five months’ evolution due to Covid-19, as organisations increasingly looked to them to plot a path of financial stability in challenging business conditions,” ACCA noted in a statement.
The unrelenting demands of the last year have placed a strain on the mental health of finance professionals globally said the accountancy body, advising that employee wellbeing is crucial if finance wants to remain valuable.
Respondents were asked what the most significant issues facing their organisation and 48% rated mental health concerns the priority, according to survey results.
Adapting to 100% remote working has also proved difficult and draining for many, ACCA said, adding that finance leaders need to continue to manage this issue, especially as they plan a potential return to the office.
Many do not consider ESG a priority
In addition, less than half that percentage said environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) considerations were the priority, raising a concern that issues such as the climate crisis have taken a back seat while organisations firefight the global pandemic, ACCA observed.
However, stakeholder interest in this area is growing rapidly and finance teams have an important part to play in explaining the organisation’s journey, the organisation added.
Advice to finance: Build on the progress made during the pandemic
The ACCA also advised finance functions to retain what they've learnt during the pandemic and build on the progress mede.
Finance functions have responded well to the challenges of the pandemic and there is an opportunity to build an even more relevant function, based on data, insights and collaboration — finance teams cannot afford to lose sight of this, said Helen Brand, chief executive of ACCA.
‘If finance teams continue to focus purely on financial measures, when cashflow ceases to be the issue, there is a risk that organisations will revert to their pre-pandemic practices,” Brand warned. “There is a definite need to embrace change and develop skills.”
The challenge now for finance is to build on the progress made during the pandemic and take a central role in defining business strategy and direction, Brian Furness, partner and global head of finance consulting at PwC pointed out.
It’s critically important they do this at a time when business models are changing and stakeholder interest in broader measures of business performance is increasing, he added.
“It would be all too easy for finance teams to shrink back into a familiar scorekeeping role but as this would be a wasted opportunity for finance professionals and the organisations they serve,” Furness said