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accountant burnout

Why Are Accountants So Burned Out?

Nearly all participants in a recent survey of accounting and finance professionals said they were experiencing some level of burnout.

That 99% of 204 pros are burned out should be a sobering wake-up call for any business that employs an accountant. Given both what it means for accountants themselves, not to mention the companies they’re working for, it’s important to know why some accountants have hit the wall — and how to correct the problem.

The following is a deeper look at the study’s findings, and some tips to help accountants avoid burnout.

Why Are Accountants Burned Out?

This staggering number was revealed in Burnout in Accounting: Understanding the Problem, Leveraging Solutions — a Controller’s Guidebook from FloQast, which partnered with the University of Georgia to conduct the survey.

Why study accountants’ exhaustion levels?

“Burnout doesn’t just impact an employee’s work-life balance,” says FloQast. “A rise in errors combined with accountants’ increasingly essential role in business operations significantly limit a company’s strategic ability to succeed in the present and plan for the future.”

FloQast conducted its survey using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) — “the leading measure of burnout validated by more than 35 years of research,” it says. It measured emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and low sense of personal accomplishment.

MBI scores responses on a scale from 1-100 points. Those scoring 60-100 have a high level of burnout; 40-60, medium; 20-40, moderate; and 1-20, low.

The average score of the 99% of accountants reporting any level of burnout by their jobs averaged 47, and thus a medium level of burnout. Still, only 8% of participants reported a low level of burnout, while nearly a quarter scored 60+ and thus were suffering from high burnout.

Many problems appeared tied to monthly and yearly closes. For instance, 85% of respondents said that they had to reopen their books at least once over the past year to fix errors; 49% said they had to do so in three or more months. And 57% of participants said the yearly and monthly financial close “are in desperate need of modernization.”

How to Help Your Accounting Team

Clearly, accountants are being pushed to the limit, but systems also are causing some of the strain. What can you do to reduce their level of burnout?

Improve Their Tech Tools

Automation can help reduce the amount of tedious manual tasks in an accountant’s day. This allows accountants to spend more time on the more critical aspects of the job. For instance, some cloud-based accounting software allows accountants to automate reports and other recurring tasks, gathering information and even test tax scenarios.

Set the Stage for a Healthier Work-Life Balance

Like most of the professional world, accountants are facing burnout in part thanks to poor work-life balance. If you employ accountants, ensure that you’re providing them with competitive paid time off. Where possible (and desired), offer flexible hours and/or the opportunity to work remotely. Managers can also help by not overloading employees and by respecting communications boundaries (e.g., not emailing after business hours).

Provide an Extra Hand

You might need some extra help — but not enough to justify another full-time hire. McManamon & Co. can help. We’re an accounting, tax, fraud, forensic and consulting firm that offers custom services to companies across a broad spectrum of industries, and that includes offering outsourced CFO and other accounting services.

Is the amount of extra help you need less than 40 hours a week? Consider our outsourced accounting services!

Learn more about what we can do for your small or midsize business. Call us at 440.892.8900 or contact us online today.

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