Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi
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September 2003

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Beware the workaholic

The current economic climate is forcing many companies to ask themselves how they can ‘do more with less’. This pressure affects the treasury just as it does any other department within the company.

In most cases, treasurers will be focussing on ways to utilise technology to make internal processes more efficient, to allow straight-through processing or to provide more detailed and timely information. These innovations, where relevant, should go some way to achieving the ultimate objective of adding value and not cost to the company.

In many companies, the treasury is under pressure to reduce headcount, either through natural wastage or forced redundancy. This pressure often results in the remaining staff members working longer and longer hours. On the other hand, staff members in some organisations feel that they are under pressure to work long hours. Some employers even seem to believe that ‘he, who works longest, works best’!

The view that working long hours is good is very dangerous, especially in the treasury. Firstly, can any treasurer argue that work done in the ninth working hour of the day is handled effectively? Are the implications of decisions taken late in the day fully considered? Is the attention to detail fully applied?

Secondly, the greatest risk from fraud within a company comes from within. The staff member who arrives before everybody else and goes home after them has ample opportunity to cover any dishonest tracks. Just as the staff member who does not take all their holidays might be hiding something.

Far from being the virtuous employee, the workaholic can, in fact, represent a significant risk to the company as a whole. Even if achieving a ‘work-life balance’ is not sufficient reason to ensure that employees do not work overlong hours, preventing the risks of error and fraud should be.