- Almost all accountants (99%) suffer from burnout, harboring feelings of exhaustion, inefficiency and alienation from their job, according to a study by the University of Georgia (UGA) and FloQast, an accounting software company.
- Challenges such as long hours, new compliance rules, mundane day-to-day work, forecasts of an impending economic downturn and the shift to remote or hybrid work have worsened chronic workplace stress among accountants, according to the study.
- “Companies’ growth, success and their ability to properly deliver are put at risk when employees are experiencing burnout,” the study said. More than four out of five (85%) of respondents to the survey said they needed to reopen the books to fix errors during at least one month in the past year, and nearly half (49%) of respondents had to make such post-closing corrections in three or more of the past 12 months.
Caused by chronic stress, burnout is characterized by feelings of depleted energy, reduced professional efficiency and “increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism,” according to the World Health Organization.
COVID-19 has increased demands on employees in the workplace and at home, pushing up burnout and stress to “all-time highs across professions,” according to the American Psychological Association (APA).
Nearly three out of five employees last year reported psychological harm from work-related stress, including lack of interest, motivation or energy, the APA said, citing a survey of 1,501 U.S. adult workers. “An astounding 44% reported physical fatigue — a 38% increase since 2019.”
With the pandemic in its third year, “stressors have become persistent and indefinite, heightening everyone’s risk of burnout,” the APA said.
Four out of five accountants (81%) said closing company books disrupted their personal life during at least one of the past 12 months, and 43% faced such disruption in three or four months out of the previous year, according to the UGA/FloQast survey.
Burnout is “a particularly major problem within the accounting sector,” the survey indicated. “Accountants with high levels of burnout were twice as likely to have experienced conflicts between the requirements of their work and their relationships with friends and family.”
The burnout rates were higher among accountants at start-ups and pre-IPO companies than at publicly traded or recent IPO companies, according to the survey. Employees with six to 10 years experience as professional accounts expressed higher feelings of stress than respondents with less than six years or more than 10 years experience.
“Due to burnout, employees aren’t able to produce their best work and, as a result, companies place the accuracy and reliability of the close at risk,” according to the study.
UGA and FloQast surveyed 204 accounting and finance employees at companies of various sizes. Four out of five (82%) of the respondents are CPAs, and 88% of them have worked in audit at some point in their careers.