The Christmas break is just weeks away, and yet somehow, the demands on business people just seem to be increasing. With everyone wanting to get their projects completed by the summer holiday, many of us are feeling overwhelmed just at the time when we’re also the most exhausted.
We spoke to Michelle Hill, Managing Partner, BDO Rotorua and Justin Martin, Head of Retail, BDO Wellington, about some of the best tips they’ve seen to help alleviate some of the stresses of the past year and how they’ve been coaching their clients through this tough time.
Structuring your day when you’re working from home
When we’re always working from home, it can lead to additional stress, according to Michelle.
“We’re working harder in many ways, and it’s all a bit too easy to go back to the office, because the office is right there. I’ve been helping clients create structure around their days so that they can leave work at work and come into the rest of their house and spend quality time with the family. Personally, I’ve found meditation really useful in the past year, and I’ve been recommending it to clients too. Some of my clients meditate, or even just go for a walk or a run when they finish their working day but before they go and spend time with their family. This enables them to leave some of the stresses of the day behind and be more present and mindful in their personal life.”
It’s okay to say “no”
Michelle Hill, Managing Partner, BDO Rotorua has found meditation to be useful in setting boundaries between work and personal life
You can’t be all things to all people, and if you try, you often end up getting overwhelmed. But when your employees are just as stressed out as you are, it’s often normal for a leader to want to try and support them in any way you can.
“We’ve all had to be out there supporting our people, and it puts more and more layers of pressure on ourselves,” says Michelle.
However you can still support your people and meet the needs of your clients, your customers and yourself, according to Michelle, all by following a business mindset that takes into account both backbone and heart.
“Effective leaders have a heart – they prioritise their and others’ wellbeing but they also recognise that having backbone is key to achieving results. So it’s not about being a pushover, and it’s also not about being too rigid. Instead, it’s about setting expectations and providing clarity, doing this with empathy and heart but helping your people know exactly what’s expected of them and what’s important in helping you achieve your vision. When you provide this clarity in a caring way, you’ll actually find your people are more invigorated, motivated and empowered.”
Prioritising what’s important – and using a business plan to get there
Justin Martin, Head of Retail, BDO Wellington knows how important it is to power down during the Christmas break
As with many areas of business, it all comes back to prioritising what’s important. It helps to sit down in times when you’re feeling overwhelmed and work out exactly what needs to be done now, what can be outsourced and what can wait for later.
For Justin Martin, Head of Retail at BDO, stepping back and working out what owners want to get out of their business and out of life in general is an essential task as we head into the summer break. “There’s so much going on at the moment, and when business owners come back hopefully feeling refreshed in the new year, it helps to have a think about your vision for your business, especially before the new financial year starts. I’ve been helping a lot of clients with business planning, working out their bigger dreams and then breaking that down into smaller more manageable goals, and accompanying that with clear accountability. Clients have found bringing more structure to this process really helps.”
Talking to someone about business decisions when you’re feeling overwhelmed is also essential, according to Justin. “When you’re a business owner you’re at the top, and it can sometimes feel like there’s no-one to talk through decisions. But having a trusted adviser who you can run things by is important to helping alleviate some of that pressure. And we’re not scared to ask how are you going and to listen to what you have to say, whether it’s business or personal or something else.”
It’s also essential to power down during the Christmas break. “It’s so important to use the time to focus on family and having a good time,” says Justin. “Your work will always be there when you come back.”
Here’s a quick run down of those top tips for promoting wellbeing in business:
- Structure your day when working from home and consider meditation between your work and your personal life as a way to make you more present
- Set clear expectations with your people – but do it with empathy and backbone
- Prioritise what’s important – and know that it’s okay to say “no”
- Take some time to create a structured business plan with clear accountabilities
- Power down over the summer holiday and have a proper break
Where to turn for more help
Xero small businesses, their employees, and their families are able to access the Xero Assistance Programme (XAP) which offers free, confidential access to face-to-face, telephone, live chat, and online counselling. Xero has recently extended this to all Auckland business owners, regardless of if you are a Xero user.
For further support, for yourself or others, visit the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand website.