Danny McCance 26 Apr 2019 10:01am

Stress damaging accountants’ social lives

More than three quarters (76%) of accountants say that work has had a negative impact on their lives in the past 12 months

Almost a third (31%) of accountancy professionals admit to being stressed on a daily basis, while only 2% say they’re completely free of stress, according to the Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association (CABA).

A survey of 251 chartered accountants found that 41% thought they were being overworked and 29% had difficulty in maintaining a good work/life balance.

More than a third (38%) checked emails outside of work hours and 33% while sick or on annual leave.

Almost two thirds (61%) admitted work had caused damage to a close relationship, while 37% said they’d been unable to partake in a hobby.

“While a certain degree of pressure can help with motivation, if stress levels are excessive, we risk becoming less productive or burning out,” Kelly Freehan, CABA service director, warned.

She said firms need to do more to promote a better balance as many chartered accountants are finding workloads “are so severe” that they are checking emails after the workday is done.

The research found younger individuals were disproportionately affected as 43% of 18 to 34-year-olds and 45% of 35 to 44-year-olds report being stressed on a daily basis compared to 13% of 45 to 55-year-olds and 15% of over 55s.

Freehan said that it is particularly concerning to see stress affecting younger individuals and that business leaders need to “provide tangible support” in promoting healthy working practices to “avoid the risk of fewer young people seeking opportunities in accountancy”.

Other factors contributing to stress included office politics (33%), feeling undervalued (29%), having to attend too many meetings (28%) or frustration over pay.

The main cause of stress for a fifth (21%) of respondents was money.

However, this cause of concern seemed to affect the younger generations more with 24% for 18 to 34-year-olds and 35% of 35 to 44-year-olds citing it compared to just 10% of 44 to 45-year-olds and 17% of over 55s.

Research last year found professional services to be the worst sector for managing stress, with accountants and lawyers being the worst in the UK at taking time to relieve stress levels – 78% blamed lack of free time as their biggest obstacle.

Research in February found that more than two thirds (67%) of UK business leaders said a lack of work/life balance was the biggest factor hurting their mental health.