For most, summer brings to mind swimming pools, sunscreen and tropical drinks. But many AP staff associate summer with more of the same: evasive invoice approvals, boring data entry and piles of paper clutter.
According to our 2023 AP Career Satisfaction Survey conducted with the Institute of Finance & Management (IOFM), only 22% of AP professionals took their full allotment of paid time off (PTO) in 2022. A shocking 35% took less than half of their PTO.
Our survey found that 77% of AP staff work 40 to 50+ hours each week, yet 61% agreed or strongly agreed that they have a healthy work/life balance. Overwork seems to be an accepted part of the culture in most finance departments today.
The Benefits of Time Off
Research suggests that after vacation, most people feel more creative and say they are “refreshed and excited” to get back to work. The American Psychological Association says vacations are correlated with better health outcomes like less stress, lower rates of heart disease and reduced depression and anxiety. The journal Environmental International linked long working hours to 745,000 deaths per year from stroke and ischemic heart disease.
The benefits of taking PTO are significant on both personal and organizational levels. So why are AP staff not taking time off?
The Challenges of Time Off for AP Professionals
AP functions are typically small within finance departments. This may leave employees feeling like taking time off would paralyze workflows and potentially damage vendor relationships with late payments.
In our 2023 AP Professional Career Satisfaction Survey, only 4% of respondents said their AP department is fully automated, which means the vast majority are still dealing with physical invoices and paper checks. Some AP pros may fear the pile of paperwork awaiting them when they return to the office from vacation.
Many employees working in AP feel crushed by their workload. Unemployment is at a historic low of 3.4%. RSM reported that 23% of middle market executives said it’s been “extremely challenging” to hire finance and accounting talent in the last 12 months. In understaffed departments, employees may feel that taking time off is simply not worth having to play catch-up when vacation is over – but it doesn’t have to be this way.
AP Automation to the Rescue
Adopting AP automation technologies can help your department work more efficiently so staff feel comfortable taking time off to recharge.
Our AvidInvoice solution allows customers to create sophisticated workflows and easily reroute invoices when someone involved in the process is out of office. This feature keeps approvals circulating without interruption.
Additionally, AvidInvoice gives AP teams anytime, anywhere visibility to invoice status and real-time reporting. Employees can check accounts and make updates from any device no matter where they are thanks to 24/7 online access. This means AP staff can take their PTO with the peace of mind that if something comes up at the office, they can easily log in and take care of business.
AvidPay enables automated bill payment, including e-payments, at the click of a button so AP staff can quickly catch up before or after a vacation without getting bogged down with manual tasks like printing checks, stuffing envelopes and filing paperwork. This helps ensure suppliers get paid on time – and helps AP pros to feel like a vacation is possible.
Our AP Professional Career Satisfaction Survey found that AP staff are overwhelmingly in favor of automation – more than 94% of respondents said they would use a tool to automate the repetitive parts of their job. Most said automation would help them save time (85%), reduce errors (79%) and focus on more fulfilling work (65%).
Supporting Employee Wellbeing
Beyond the benefits that come from taking PTO, AP automation supports overall employee career satisfaction. Our study with IOFM uncovered that a “workplace culture that respects time off” and “flexible work hours” rate nearly as high as salary and benefits on jobseekers’ wish lists.
When asked to rate their work/life balance, 83% of those in departments with fully automated systems felt theirs was healthy, compared to 45% of those working in departments with manual systems. By and large, we found that AP staff who use automation feel more connected to their organization’s mission, cared for by their supervisors and satisfied in their roles.
It’s clear that AP automation helps keep staff healthy and happy while driving efficiencies. You can learn more about its positive impacts in our whitepaper, “9 Stats That Define the Modern AP Professional.” Extra points if you read it from a poolside lounge chair this summer!