The Future of Work
Accounting at a Crossroads: Report Illustrates Widespread Work-Life Balance Concerns In Hopes of Identifying a Fix
Maybe it’s the last year (or so) of hearing about burnout in accounting and Quiet Quitting, but it’s starting to feel like we’re becoming a tad conditioned to reports of people seeking out new employment.
However, today, with the publication of the third chapter of FloQast’s Controller’s Guidebook series, Controller’s Guidebook: The Great Recalibration – The Role of Technology in Retaining and Recruiting Accountants, a number of findings from our survey of finance and accounting professionals illustrate that the accounting industry needs to change, and it needs to change fast.
Work-Life Challenges Leading to Potentially Disastrous Staff Turnover
According to the report, a whopping 53% of those considering a change may leave their current company in the next year. For a profession notoriously desperate for an influx of new talent — while nervously looking at dwindling numbers of college accounting majors — this indicator of potential mass turnover signals potential disaster for already-overburdened accounting orgs challenged to do more with less in a rocky economic climate.
But the most alarming finding from the survey of 203 accounting and finance professionals was this one: 63% of respondents considering a change may leave accounting entirely as teams work to recalibrate work-life balance.
What the what? Yeah, that’s not a typo.
According to the report, conducted in partnership with the University of Georgia Consumer Analytics Program, 60% of accountants report they struggle with an imbalance between work and life, doubting they can complete the work they’ve been assigned and, yet, still aspire to take on a more strategic role in their organizations.
A Solution Amongst the Numbers
As doom and gloom as the above may seem, the report did identify a handful of steps employers can take to create more positive work environments.
For one, a sense of fulfillment for accountants is key. According to the survey, when a sense of professional fulfillment is high, accountants are almost five times more likely to stay with their current employer than when fulfillment is average. While it can be difficult to identify the factors that contribute to a sense of fulfillment, this is an opportunity for leaders to create positive, ongoing dialogues with their employees in order to identify what matters most to them and how they can help.
Another major factor was the resources available to accountants. In the past, accountants were more apt to work with what they had, no matter how counterintuitive or obsolete it may be. But according to Controller’s Guidebook Chapter 3, More than 60% of accountants say technology is more important in their job satisfaction today than it was two to three years ago, and 43% say they are extremely likely to ask about technology when interviewing for a new role.
The Ball Is in the Employers’ Courts
Good leaders know when their team members are unhappy, unsatisfied, or both. While reports of job dissatisfaction across industries have been widely published, this report makes it clear that the accounting profession is at a crossroads, with looming disaster looking likely if the appropriate steps aren’t taken.
Now, more than ever, they need to consider more than just the day-to-day responsibilities they’re tasked with. They need to talk with their teams on a personal level to understand challenges and concerns. They need to explore potential solutions to alleviate manual, stressful processes that weigh on employees and cause them to lose interest in their roles. But, most importantly, they need to look at their own definition of work-life balance and change the way they think about it. It’s not a buzzword, it’s not leverage for a higher salary: It’s the one thing that puts you most at risk of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring, training, and retaining new accounting staff in the future.