How to Get Ahead of AR Staff Retention Challenges in 2023

Shaun Jex | Friday, Jan 6th 2023
Reduce Employee Turnoever

It’s a new year, and that means new possibilities and opportunities for success. But for finance teams, it can be perilous. Turnover tends to spike and teams with poor employee engagement are at even greater risk. With the labor market providing favorable conditions for job seekers and the looming prospect of recession, companies face the threat of losing essential staff when they need them the most.

That’s why it’s important to detect early signs of dissatisfaction and disengagement and take the necessary steps to right the course. Of course, there are general signs that managers should be aware of, such as frequent absences, employees who arrive late and leave early or take excessive breaks. However, there are specific issues that accounts receivable departments are particularly susceptible to.

Bogged Down and Burned Out

One of the clearest signs that an employee may be close to looking for a new position is a constant state of exhaustion.

A team member who is constantly taking on extra hours or working on their day off may seem like they are simply dedicated to their position, but it could also be a sign that they are overworked (we’ll touch on that in a moment). Either way, it’s an unsustainable approach that will lead to burnout. And it’s a problem that continues to rise.

76% of workers have expressed feeling burnout at work.

A survey by the American Psychiatric Association found that 3 in 5 employees are suffering from negative effects of burnout, including lack of interest and motivation, cognitive weariness, emotional exhaustion, and physical fatigue.

The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies burnout as characterized by three key features:
  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job
  • reduced professional efficacy

Not only do these conditions increase the odds of employee turnover. They can also impact a customer’s experience. Dealing with a customer’s money is a delicate process, and you don’t want tired, frustrated employees managing this exchange. This increases the possibility of a poor experience and when that happens, it’s not just your employees that are at risk of jumping ship, it’s your customers as well.

Overworked and Running Behind

Related to employee exhaustion is the burden of being overloaded with work. Accounts receivable teams that rely on manual processes are particularly susceptible to this. In general, the AR process can be broken down into four main functions: establishing credit practices, invoicing customers, tracking accounts receivable, and accounting for aspects such as early payment discounts, bad debt, and late payments.

When using traditional, manual processes, each of these tasks gets segmented into a substantial number of subtasks that must each be completed. It’s easy for the duties to escalate which leads to staff continually playing catch up, as opposed to getting ahead of tasks. This constant parade of "busy work" keeps employees from engaging in the more strategic aspects of collecting that are not only more rewarding but have a direct impact on cash flow. An example of this could be AR portfolio analysis, followed by proactively reaching out to accounts that are at risk of late payment. 

Having team members that are constantly behind on tasks can also be a warning sign that they are overworked and may soon suffer from burnout, decreasing engagement and increasing the likelihood of staff turnover. Managers should also be on the lookout for a consistent inability to meet deadlines, which could indicate an excessive workload.

Right the Course 

They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s particularly true when it comes to employee retention. Taking proactive steps to prevent the loss of employee engagement and increase job satisfaction is the most effective way to maintain a satisfied and productive workforce.

Accounts receivable automation can help provide AR teams with a strong foundation for better employee engagement. By centralizing account data and providing transparency between departments, less time is spent chasing relevant information. In addition, automation eliminates mundane and time-consuming tasks like data entry, delivery of invoices, and follow-up payment reminders.

Quadient AR makes accounts receivable teams 3X more efficient.

Not only does this help reduce AR employees’ overall workload and by extension the risk of burnout. It also gives them the opportunity to focus on higher-value tasks that deliver measurable value to the organization. By focusing on activities that clearly contribute to the company’s overall goals, team members are provided with a greater sense of work satisfaction and engagement.

Centralized and transparent data also helps by allowing managers to track key performance indicators (KPIs) in real time. This can reveal warning signs if productivity begins to drop off, while also allowing finance leaders to provide meaningful feedback and specific praise for performance, both of which are essential to keeping employees engaged.

This can also be supplemented by regular stand-up, sprint meetings where goals can be established, achievements recognized, and progress tracked. Virtual meetings are especially key for teams that are working remotely. Not only do they allow for necessary feedback, but they also help generate a sense of team when physical isolation exists.

By implementing these practices in conjunction with automating routine activities, management can decrease workload stress and prevent the risk of burnout that leads to high turnover. After all, there’s only one “turnover” you want to increase in finance management.

For additional strategies to reduce employee turnover, sign up for our upcoming webinar Retaining Top Finance Talent in 2023.