The accountancy profession is in the grip of a mental health crisis, with a new study finding that 31% of chartered accountants feel stressed on a daily basis.
The research, conducted by CABA, the chartered accountants’ wellbeing charity, found that as few as 2% of respondents claim to be unaffected by stress.
Some 37% said their job was the main cause of their stress, while 29% cited the difficulty of trying to maintain a work-life blend. A further 38% said they checked emails outside work every day, and 33% checked their emails while sick or on annual leave.
The research found that the most commonly felt workplace frustrations include:
- being overworked (41%)
- office politics (33%)
- feeling undervalued (29%)
- failure to increase pay or rewards (29%)
- having to attend too many meetings (28%)
Kelly Freehan, service director, CABA, said: “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.”
Some 21% 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. Furthermore, 24% of 18-34-year-olds and 32% of 35-44-year-olds reported money being their main source of stress. This was in comparison to 10% of 45-54-year olds and 17% of those aged over 55.
The research actually found that younger and middle-aged chartered accountants were likely to feel more stressed overall than their older colleagues. Some 43% of 18-34-year-olds and 45% of 35-44-year-olds reported feeling stressed every day, compared with just 13% of 45-54-year olds and 15% of those aged over 55.
KFreehan added: “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. Some 76% claimed work had 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%)
- being unable to partake in hobbies (37%)
- feeling unable to concentrate on non-work-related issues (28%)
- being unable to see friends (27%)
- putting on weight due to a lack of work-life blend (27%)
In conjunction with the survey, CABA has launched a new ‘Mental Wellbeing’ campaign. Featuring a dedicated microsite, the campaign will provide support and advice to empower members of the ICAEW chartered accountant community to take greater care of their mental wellbeing.