A report from job board CareersinAudit.com has found more than a third of all accountancy professionals (37 per cent) admit that on a weekly basis, they are suffering stress as a direct result of their work. This statistic rises to more than half of accountants (57 per cent) suffering at least once a month. So extreme is some work-related stress that 15 per cent of accountants revealed they were signed off work. More than a fifth (who suffer or have suffered stress) reported low energy, a further 17 per cent reported headaches, 16 per cent reported mood swings and 13 per cent reported insomnia. Others reported panic attacks, stomach ulcers, weight gain and binge eating as well as lack of concentration.
Despite the majority prone to stress on a regular basis, six in ten sufferers have not alerted their line manager or senior management to the issues. More than a third (38 per cent) were quick to brush away this saying the reason they hadn’t alerted anyone senior was ‘because everyone gets stressed and I don’t want to bother him or her’. Nearly an additional three in ten accountants believe that raising stress as an issue could have a detrimental impact on how their co-workers and bosses regard them. A further ten per cent believed they could either lose their job or wouldn’t get the promotion.
According to CareersinAudit.com’s research, nearly half (48 per cent) believe that the main cause of their stress is that there is simply too much work and not enough hours in the day. More than a quarter (27 per cent) believe it is due to company politics or a boss or line manager that they do not get on with – which goes some way to explain why some of the those suffering stress do not feel able to discuss this with their co-workers or managers. Others believe that at the core it is down to poor management practices, unrealistic targets and the pressure to do other people’s work.
Even when those suffering raised this with someone senior at work, a third admitted that ‘nothing happened as they didn’t want to know about it’ or they ‘made jokes that I was on leave already’ or ‘said it was part of the job’ or ‘nothing more as the company hadn’t approved the HR budget”. Yet some employers showed compassion and understanding; nearly a quarter (24 per cent) who were made aware of an employees’ stress sat down and worked through how their workload could be delegated. A further quarter reported that they were either told to take a day or two off or were provided with free counselling mindfulness or another therapeutic treatment.
Other highlights of the research included:
•Two thirds of respondents believe that their company does not do enough to support stress;
•Nearly a third (32 per cent) want someone in a position of responsibility at work to listen to their concerns, whilst a further 22 per cent would like their workload reduced. Others, it seems, are prepared to suffer the effects of stress as long as they are remunerated with working longer hours. Whilst nearly a quarter (23 per cent) would prefer to work at home or be given counselling, mindfulness or another therapeutic treatment;
•Half of respondents admitted that on average they are working 8-10 hours a day, with a further 23 per cent working between 10-12 hours a day. 10 per cent reported they are working at least 12 hours or more;
•More than a quarter of respondents admitted that they often work at weekends with a further 11 per cent working most weekends and a small sample (3.5 per cent) saying they work every weekend. A fifth had worked 10-20 weekends over the past twelve months, with a further 14 per cent working more 20-30 weekends over the past year and a tenth revealing they had worked more than 30-40+ weekends in the same time period;
•Nearly two thirds (65 per cent) revealed that their employer expects to contact them outside work hours and the majority 54 per cent admitting that it bothers them and they feel they should be able to finish the working day and focus on their private life. However, three in ten are resigned to their work fate, stating ‘there is nothing I can do about it’ and a further 21 per cent believing that if they said anything it could affect their job or chances of promotion;
•Three quarters of respondents admitted they check their mobile or emails for work communication whilst on holiday, with 40 per cent stating they look multiple times a day and a further 37 per cent looking once a day and
•Six in ten respondents admitted that have had to miss an important family or friend’s occasion because of work – these included a wedding (24 per cent), a children’s school event (22 per cent), a funeral (14 per cent) and a spouse’s/partner’s birthday (15 per cent).
“Despite many admitting (and resigned) to the fact that stress is part of their working lives, there is a strong call to action for bosses to make changes to create a better work-life balance for their employees and, in turn, reduce stress levels,’ said Simon Wright, operations director, CareersinAudit.com. “Many are suffering in silence – fearing it could impact negatively and potentially hinder their chances of a promotion or even result in the loss of their job. Even when sufferers spoke up, a third of senior management turned a blind eye and did nothing to alleviate the stress. Whilst some companies clearly demonstrated that they care by allowing days off, therapeutic treatments or counselling for their staff, bosses and senior managers need to look at the real causes of the stress epidemic in the workplace.
“Those in the profession are at risk of being burnt out by the daily toll of long hours, working weekends regularly and the majority engaged with work even on holiday,” he added. “Everyone needs to be able to have time out to ‘recharge their batteries’. Bosses need to create a working culture where there is no stigma attached to stress and, crucially, make sure there are enough employees to manage the workload.”