How often do you think about quitting your job in accounting?
A recent survey by the charity Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association (CABA) found that more than a fifth (22%) of chartered accountants consider throwing in the towel at work on a weekly basis, and 8% think about handing in their notice daily.
Clearly the accounting industry needs to pull its socks up. But what can firms do to make accountants happier? And why are so many people discontent in the first place?
Respondents to the CABA’s survey said one of the key factors contributing towards accountants' dissatisfaction is the inability to "achieve a work-life blend". Over half of accountants (54%) admitted working late on a weekly basis, and 22% said they work late every day.
Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey also found that a good work-life balance is the primary factor for employees when evaluating job opportunities (after salary and other financial perks, of course).
Finally, another recent survey, this time from professional services firm Aon, revealed a couple more priorities for employees. A staggering 98% (yes, you read that right) want more flexible working hours, while 79% want better awareness of mental health.
These studies suggest that if accountancy firms want a team of happy accountants who don't think about quitting on a weekly basis, they need to focus on making sure their employees leave work on time, and on flexible-working and mental-health policies.
That’s no good to you right now, though. It could take a while for firms to catch up to accountants' needs. So, what can you do to achieve happiness while you're working long hours, trying to meet strict deadlines, and (in some cases) studying and taking exams?
According to Richard Layard's Origins of Happiness report, "…the things that matter most for our happiness and for our misery are our social relationships and our mental and physical health."
So, without further ado, here are accountingcpd.net's top tips for boosting your mental and physical health, and achieving happiness in the workplace:
1 Turn off technology
Technology means you can access your work emails and take calls from clients at any time. But that doesn’t mean you should. Working overtime on a regular basis can make you physically and mentally unwell. Try to get into the habit of switching off when you finish work.
2 Ask about flexible working
Technology isn't all bad. It makes it easier to work flexible hours and from home. Many accountancy firms are trying to adapt to flexible working policies – ask your employer if they have one. If you're able to fit in your work around your lifestyle, you'll have more time with the people, or doing the things, you love, which is guaranteed to make you happier.
3 Look up mental-health or wellbeing services
If your company offers mental-health or wellbeing services, try to take advantage of them. If it doesn't, it's worth take matters into your own hands. You could practise mindfulness, exercise or go for a walk in the park – these are all great ways to manage stress levels and boost your mental and physical health.
4 Take time off
Always take your lunch break – you'll be more productive in the afternoon! And never let your holiday time lapse. You are giving yourself a greater chance of stress or health issues if you don't take a break from work every now and then.
5 Eat well
Drink plenty of water and eat as many vegetables as possible. Try to avoid quick fixes like caffeine and chocolate, and try not to have too much alcohol or too many carbs before bed. You’re guaranteed to feel physically and mentally healthier, more energetic and therefore happier.
6 Do something creative
Give your brain a rest from processing figures by doing something completely non-related and creative. You could sit in on another team's meetings, start a new hobby or course, or read a book you wouldn't normally choose. Doing something creative for yourself will help you manage your stress when you’re running around trying to file returns at the end of the tax year.
At the end of the day, there's no magic wand you can wave to make yourself happy, and doing all these things won't help you feel better overnight. But over time these small steps should make a big difference to your mental and physical health, both inside and outside the accounting industry, and, maybe, you won’t want to quit your job.
If you're struggling to cope at work or in your personal life, here are some places you can get help: