Report: Analyzing Accountants’ Relationship with Technology as Stressor in the Workplace – and at Home

Earlier this year, FloQast and the University of Georgia released the results of a survey of finance and accounting professionals that detailed widespread burnout in the accounting profession that, unfortunately, didn’t surprise many accountants. 

In Controller’s Guidebook: Burnout in Accounting – Understanding the Problem, Leveraging Solutions, we found that 99% of accountants suffered from some level of burnout, with an astounding 54% reporting that they were at or above the average score, and an additional 24% admitting medium-high or high levels of burnout. 

While stress and periodic, long hours have always been associated with the profession, these unhealthy numbers (to say the least) truly illustrate the need for change. In addition to the personal toll that burnout takes on an individual, widespread burnout puts businesses’ data at extreme risk from a productivity standpoint. This begs the question: What is causing burnout, what’s contributing to its continued high numbers, and how can companies address it?

Today, FloQast released the findings of its latest survey exploring just this. In Controller’s Guidebook: Is Your Relationship with Technology a Solution to Burnout or a Source of Stress?, we take a closer look at what is causing these high levels of burnout and, specifically, what role technology plays in it.

Conducted in partnership with the University of Georgia Consumer Analytics Program, the survey includes the perspectives of 217 accounting and finance professionals with varying titles, tenure, and company size, among other characteristics, we found that the relationship between employees and the technologies they rely on plays a significant role in the level of burnout they report. 

The report established three types of accounting technology relationships that exist. 

  • Adversarial: The tech is seen as more of a hindrance than a resource
  • Routine: The tech works but the value added is minimal
  • Synergistic: The tech becomes an extension of the accountant

According to the report, a mere 36% of accountants reported a Synergistic relationship with their technology. A further 29% reported a Routine relationship with the technology they’re expected to use on a daily basis, but most alarming is the 35% admitting to have an Adversarial role with their technologies. That’s not a “Man, Lotus Notes is really a bummer!” type of situation: Per its definition, Adversarial actually makes it harder for accountants to work. Ever have to transfer data from Excel over a web form and reformat? That doesn’t make accountants’ jobs any easier.

That kinda sucks, but what impact does this have on those burnout scores we were talking about? A lot, unfortunately. The report found that accounting professionals with a Synergistic technology relationship had burnout scores that were 15 points lower than those who had an Adversarial relationship and 11 points lower than those with a Routine technology relationship. 

Unfortunately, and somewhat obviously (which is equally unfortunate), the effects of these impacts reach beyond the employees (and their families) to negatively affect the businesses they work for. According to the survey, accountants with a Synergistic relationship, the books were reopened 1.4 fewer months than an accountant with an Adversarial relationship and 0.7 fewer months than an accountant who has a Routine relationship.

In an age where finding and retaining quality finance and accounting professionals is becoming more challenging and the need for timely, accurate financial reporting is increasing dramatically, these scores should concern accounting leaders greatly. When “Do more with less” is becoming more widespread, it’s time to start factoring in the impact of adopting this mindset and its impact on accountants’ personal and professional well-being. 

Check out the full report + infographic

Stefan van Duyvendijk

Stefan van Duyvendijk is FloQast's first Accounting Operations Evangelist. Stefan is a tenured controller who has consistently nurtured finance professionals and improved accounting processes throughout his career. Previously he was Corporate Controller for Kodiak Cakes where he led a 10-member finance team through a pre-IPO initiative. Before that, he was U.S. Controller for Skullcandy and senior associate at KPMG.