Is Accounting Stressful?
Many accountants find their careers rewarding, but it can also be stressful from time to time. Their worries also vary, from deadlines to overtime to heavy workloads to unrealistic expectations and demands from their superiors.
However, this is not surprising since they are responsible for accurate reporting and processing of financial information. Accountants may incur penalties or, worse, the revocation of a CPA license. One small mistake can already have serious consequences.
In this article, you will know whether an accounting job is stressful. If yes, how stressful can an accounting job be? Is it worse or better than the school setting?
Keep reading until the end as we also share tips on how to lower accountant stress levels.
Let’s get started!
Is Accounting a Stressful Job?
Yes, accounting can be stressful.
Helping people file their tax returns can be demanding because accountants usually have to finish the task within a four-month window. Managing the finances of a big company can be stressful as the tiniest mistake can likewise cause serious ramifications.
The Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association (CABA), an occupational charity that supports the chartered accountancy profession, even conducted a survey. According to the results, only two percent (2%) were unaffected by job stress. (1)
1. Accountants report stress daily at work
The same survey revealed that 98 out of 100 accountants were stressed at work, even before the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc.
It also brought many problems and worries, such as how businesses can thrive in a work-from-home setup.
Of the 98% who are stressed at work, 31% said they feel stressed daily. This figure increased to 48% for accountants between 18 and 34 years of age and 45% for those between 35 and 44 years old.
Some 29% said the difficulty of maintaining a work-life balance was the main cause of their stress. Meanwhile, 37% cited their job as the culprit of stress.
Thirty-three percent claimed they even check emails while on annual leave or sick, and 38% said they are already outside work. Most people, accountants are no different, they are getting overwhelmed by the deluge of emails they get every day.
2. Accountants work long hours
Long hours, workload, and work complexity have contributed to more than half suffering from burnout and other mental health problems (nothing too serious).
Accountants have increased workloads at certain times of the month that require them to put in extra time. This affects family time and personal commitments. These long hours can be difficult to manage and accountants report feeling stressed out by trying to balance responsibilities.
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3. Being overworked and office politics are major sources of work-related stress among accountants.
Among the issues that contributed to the high-stress levels of accountants, these two causes stand out: being overworked (41%) and office politics (33%).
Other reasons why they are stressed at work are feeling undervalued (29%), having to attend too many meetings (28%), and failure of the company to increase rewards or pay (29%).
The data clarifies that firms should actively encourage their staff to observe a healthier work-life blend.
4. Younger accountants are most stressed
Another survey done by the Monash Business School shows that younger accountants, females, or those who work for a consulting or law firm suffer the most stress. (2)
This study is quite understandable, as young people don’t know what their bosses want from them. As a result, they won’t have a clear sense of their duties at work.
This can heighten their tension or cause them anxiety because they don’t feel like they have full information.
The Monash survey involved 260 professional accountants with at least five years of experience. To determine whether their mental health is flourishing, moderate, or languishing, their overall well-being is being checked.
The researchers also measured the accountant’s psychological, emotional, and social health.
5. The stress level still depends on the person
Still, the stress level largely depends on the person, work environment, and role at work.
Many accountants enjoy the high-stakes aspects of their work. Some accountants say that outside the busy tax season, they have a healthy work-life balance and enjoy the flexibility of their work.
Meanwhile, other accountants love working for small businesses because they can see the fruits of their labor or because they get to work with a team.
This means that at the end of the day, an accountant’s stress level will depend on how they respond to pressure and how much they find joy in the detailed, hard work.
After learning the answer to the question, “Is accounting stressful?” we’ll proceed with the strategies to regain a sense of normalcy in your life.
8 Tips for Accounting and Finance Teams to Reduce Stress
1. Make a list of your accounting task or create a flow state
One way to lower the stress level if you work in the accounting and finance department is to list your accounting tasks.
A to-do list should not be just something you have to do for the sake of doing it but should be something to help you be more organized and focus first on the more pressing matters.
Having a list of accounting tasks is very important, especially during the busy season, to see what needs to be done in the coming hours or days.
Once some of the items are checked, you can already move on to the next matter.
You can use a block of time for a flow state in your schedule. We refer to this as focus hours, where you can work with virtually fewer or no distractions.
It is easier to complete your task without delay if you have an accountant flow state.
For most accountants, their flow state is during the morning. As soon as they enter the office, they lock their door and finish the work. Create an accountant flow state and know how efficient a couple of hours can be without distractions.
2. Delegate your obligations and learn to say “no”
CPAs are regulated and licensed by their state boards of accountancy.
For instance, the American Institute of CPAs must follow a rigorous Code of Professional Conduct, which means they act with objectivity, competence, due care, and integrity.
But just because you know how to do things as an accountant doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself. You might feel overloaded, especially if working in a large financial services division and dealing with a superabundance of weekly data. That’s where the value of delegation comes in.
Delegating your task as a Certified Public Accountant or someone in the finance department is an important skill to free up time and achieve more important tasks. Keep in mind that the world will not end just because you cannot get everything finished.
As for the young professionals who attach bragging rights when overworked, they may increase their stress levels. So, another essential skill to learn is to say “no” to impossible deadlines or others without antagonizing people.
Be honest with your boss about what you can accomplish for a certain period, or tell your clients or team should you need to postpone a deadline.
[Related Post: How to Deal With Difficult Accounting Clients?]
3. Set specific times to review emails
Accountants may be asked to compose different written documents, so their job is not all about numbers.
For instance, they may prepare technical documents, like financial reports or analyses of business performance. Accountants may also have to respond to emails.
To minimize mail disruption and spend more time on more important things, we suggest you set specific times to review your emails.
Some examples include:
- First thing in the morning, as you begin your work
- During lunchtime
- Before your finish for the day
When you open your emails like this, you can focus on work. The other solution is to have somebody else manage your work inbox. Remember that not every email that lands in your inbox needs a response.
4. Identify your stress triggers
One of the biggest factors that affect the stress levels of those in the accounting field involves specific triggers. In some cases, it could be a disrespectful client or a colleague who does not accomplish their share of the work.
Public accounting is already a taxing industry, but it doesn’t mean you can’t keep a positive attitude. Learning how to identify your stressors from the macro to the micro level is the key.
Once you assess yourself and mentally recognize the triggers, it will impact your professional life.
5. Stay active
Accounting is not an active career. Most of the working hours are spent sitting at a desk, which is detrimental to health.
Long periods of sedentary behavior can lead to heart problems and an increased risk of developing diabetes. Therefore, staying active, especially when not at work, is essential for health.
Exercise can increase your overall sense of well-being and health, putting more pep in your step daily. Staying active also has direct stress-busting benefits, which are pumping the production of feel-good neurotransmitters (endorphins) in your brain.
You can also take care of your overall physical health by getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, enjoying some downtime, and eating a healthy diet.
6. Use accounting tools
Handling business accounts using spreadsheets alone can be time-consuming, confusing, and prone to errors. So, think beyond just spreadsheet accounting.
Investing in the right accounting software is the solution.
The right accounting software has many features that make accounting work less demanding. The tool can also help the business grow smoothly and continuously.
From project management and tax calculation to billing and basic invoicing, using accounting software is essential, especially during busy seasons.
Managing invoices on paper is error-prone and tedious. Automate this process using Envoice to free up your accountants’ time. Try it here for free.
[Related: How to automate data entry in accounting?]
7. Create a more relaxing physical environment
Whether working in the department of office accounting or working at home because of the pandemic, it is best to create a more relaxing working space.
An airy workplace encourages collaboration, helps reduce stress, and promotes the best work efforts among the team. It will also foster greater productivity.
So, firms, companies, and individuals should consider redesigning their offices to make them more open and increase the amount of light coming in.
Some companies help their employees, such as their staff accountants, junior auditors in public accounting, and assistants in private accounting.
To make their job less stressful, they allow them to work from home and flexible hours, provide counseling services, and create events to build their social networks.
According to Robert Half’s Salary Guide, one perk the employees like the most is a flexible schedule. Also, not far behind the list is the ability to work remotely. (3)
Maintaining a flexible work schedule can help team members manage their work-related stress more effectively. It will also boost their overall morale and engagement at work because they will have a better work-life balance.
On the company’s part, they should encourage their employees to be more fulfilled and happier in their personal lives.
8. Plan meetings with efficiency in mind
If you’re the head of an accounting department, you can help ease the pressures on your team by planning your meetings.
When employees face impatient clients and pressing deadlines, the last thing they often want is to be pulled away from their work and attend a meeting.
Some think that attending a meeting will not make good use of their time. So, before you set a meeting with your team, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this meeting necessary?
Save meetings for critical project updates, share relevant news, discuss issues undermining the team’s productivity, or brainstorm.
This can be done by imparting non-urgent information or implementing a routine in your department. You can consider using emails or memos so employees can read them in their own time.
- What’s the agenda?
When planning a meeting, it should have a clear purpose. We recommend you outline the topic that needs to be included and who will discuss what topic and for how long.
These steps will help make the attendees more engaged in meetings.
Remember also that video conferences can be as disruptive as in-person meetings. So, avoid scheduling meetups too often or too long during the workweek. Sometimes, your team members will not want to turn on their video camera, so avoid making it an issue.
- Who needs to attend this meeting?
There’s no need to invite the whole team. So, be strategic with your attendee list and invite only a few key players.
Win Your Battle With Accounting Stress
In some ways, it is not too surprising that accountants are becoming more stressed nowadays with the pressures of ever-changing compliance and legislation.
Some accountants might be fed up with demanding working hours, forced to work on a holiday, or overloaded with complex work that leaves no room for error.
Still, there is a lot to love about an accounting career. One reason is being a stable and growing job field as virtually every business needs an accounting team or an accountant to keep the business running.
Plus, the earning potential of an accountant is favorable.
Now that you have a better grasp that an accounting career can be stressful, you can evaluate if this is the field for you.
However, if you’re already in the accounting field and want to battle your work-related stress, follow the steps above to reignite your passion. Rediscover the reasons why you got into accountancy in the first place.
Are you struggling to keep up with the responsibilities of running a profitable business? Envoice.eu is here to help! Our accounting software is designed to decrease an accountant’s stress levels.
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