Report: Burnout in the Accounting Industry Is Widespread. How Can We Change That?

As accountants, we enter the profession understanding that busy seasons will be busy and stress comes with the territory. In many cases, we’ve even witnessed the toll of stress first-hand as we interact with friends and family. But at the end of the day, for accountants, the stability, opportunity to put an analytical mindset to its best use, and ability to impact the direction of an organization with well-researched, thoughtful insight is the draw.

But that doesn’t mean burnout and high levels of stress need to be part of the job description. As the first part of a new research series analyzing some of the most pressing issues facing the accounting industry, today, FloQast released the results of its latest survey, Controller’s Guidebook: Burnout in Accounting – Understanding the Problem, Leveraging Solutions, putting data against stress and burnout worries in the accounting profession to a degree that merits serious concern. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
  • reduced professional efficacy.”

According to the report, produced through a survey of 204 accounting and finance professionals, 99% of accountants experienced some level of burnout. While everyone experiences burnout in different ways, of the 99% of respondents who reported feeling some level of burnout, 54% were at or above the average score, with a further 24% admitting medium-high or high levels of burnout.

While everyone is susceptible to burnout, it’s no longer a question of pushing through or toughing it out. Why? Because burnout scores are significantly correlated with the disruption of accountants’ lives — personally and professionally. According to the report, 81% of accountants had at least one month in the past year where the Financial Close disrupted their personal life, with an additional 43% admitting the process has negatively disrupted three or more months out of the year. 

These figures go far beyond just the accounting team. 85% of participants reported having to re-open the books in at least one month during the last year to fix errors. Almost half (49%) had to re-open the books in three or more months. Given the vital role that accounting teams play in an organization, the room for error, fueled by burnout, is simply unacceptable.  

As professionals, we’ve accepted that heightened levels of stress and even burnout are natural aspects of the job, but with fewer accountants joining the workforce and many accountants retiring, the status quo no longer works. 

For additional findings, an eBook with more detailed survey results can be found on FloQast’s website here. Additional resources on how to manage burnout among accountants are available as well. 

At 8 a.m. PT on August 10th, Dee Warmath, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Director of the Consumer Analytics Program at the University of Georgia, and I will review the report, highlight the impact of burnout on the accounting sector, and discuss potential solutions. The link to register is available here.

See the complete findings

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.