April 26, 2019
Accountancy has joined the legal profession in a developing mental health epidemic within their respective workplaces. Recent studies found that just over a third (37 percent) of solicitors feel stressed by work, striking a worrying comparison between themselves and accountants. The accountancy profession is in the grip of a mental health crisis according to a new study which claims that a third (31 percent) of chartered accountants feel stressed on a daily basis. The research, conducted by CABA, a wellbeing charity, suggests that as few as 2 percent of respondents claim to be unaffected by stress.
Nearly two-fifths (37 percent) said that their job was the main cause of their stress, while a third (29 percent) cited the difficulty of trying to maintain a work-life blend. Driving this issue home, two-fifths (38 percent) check their emails outside work every day, and a third (33 percent) even check their emails while sick or on annual leave.
There are various pressures within the workplace itself, which many accountants are grappling with on a regular basis and are sure to contribute to the rising industry stress levels. The research found that the most commonly felt workplace frustrations include:
- being overworked (41 percent)
- office politics (33 percent)
- feeling undervalued (29 percent)
- failure to increase pay or rewards (29 percent)
- having to attend too many meetings (28 percent)
Kelly Freehan, Service Director, CABA, comments on the findings: ‘While a certain degree of pressure can help with motivation, if stress levels are excessive, we risk becoming less productive or burning out. With our research finding that many chartered accountants feel their workloads are so severe that they need to constantly check their emails outside work, it’s clear that firms should be actively encouraging their staff to maintain a healthier work-life blend.’
A fifth (21 percent) of respondents cited money as the main cause of stress, though this was of greater concern to younger and middle-aged respondents than it was to their older colleagues. A quarter (24 percent) of 18-34-year-olds and a third (32 percent) of 35-44-year-olds report money being their main source of stress. This was in comparison to just 1-in-10 (10 percent) 45-54-year olds and fewer than a fifth (17 percent) of those aged over 55.
Business leaders must provide tangible support that helps staff to form healthy working habits
The research actually found that younger and middle-aged chartered accountants are likely to feel more stressed overall than their older colleagues. More than two fifths of 18-34-year-olds (43 percent) and 35-44-year-olds (45 percent) report feeling stressed every day, compared with just 13 percent of 45-54-year olds and 15 percent of those aged over 55.
Kelly Freehan concluded: ‘It’s particularly concerning to see that so many young people within the industry are wrestling with stress, with our research showing that they are the most likely to take work home, stay late in the office and work on days off. Business leaders must provide tangible support that helps staff to form healthy working habits at the start of their careers, if we’re to avoid the risk of fewer young people seeking opportunities in accountancy.’
Whatever the root cause, it’s clear that stress is having a major impact on accountants. Three-quarters (76 percent) claim that work has negatively affected them in the past 12 months, with a particular strain being placed on their social lives. Some of the most common effects include:
- a close relationship being damaged (61 percent)
- being unable to partake in hobbies (37 percent)
- feeling unable to concentrate on non-work-related issues (28 percent)
- being unable to see friends (27 percent)
- putting on weight due to a lack of work-life blend (27 percent)