Managing Spreadsheets & Your Sanity

November 19, 2020

How To Achieve An Effective Work-Life Balance As A CPA

A healthy balance of work and personal life may seem unattainable, but companies that have implemented work-life balance practices have seen improved analytical thinking, creativity, happiness, efficiency and an increased sense of task ownership by employees, according to Laurence Whittam of The Daily CPA

Whittam Suggests Outsourcing Tedious, Low-Cost work, Such As Payroll, to: 

  • Allow CPAs to focus on projects that are more interesting, satisfying and financially rewarding, 
  • Provide time for training programs to improve employees’ technological skills, and 
  • Promote improved communication with clients.

The Outsourced Accountant states that employees strongly prefer a firm that supports work/life balance when choosing where to work. Therefore, the author suggests ways that CPA firms can improve working conditions while supporting life outside the job.

Accounting Work Support Benefits

These Company-Driven Supportive Efforts Include:

  • Focus on different value-added metrics rather than just the number of hours worked,
  • Illustrate the importance of work-life balance by lead partners personally setting an example,
  • Avoid overloading employees with tedious projects, or with assignments that have insufficient resources, and
  • Establish a company culture in which rest, personal time and family time are supported.

A Lack of Support Damages Much More Than Job Performance

Mark J. Cowan, CPA, J.D. explains in the Journal of Accountancy the negative impact that a lack of work-life balance can have on a person’s quality of work, personal life and mental health. Cowan shares that jobs, like accounting, that “involve long hours, stress, and pressure” can either cause or aggravate mental health problems, including depression. Because of their analytical mindset, CPAs typically try to rely on their business methods to address mental health problems, seeking solutions for depression in the same way that they balance a messy budget.

Accounting and Depression

“Depression cannot be cured by following a checklist.”

Cowan strongly encourages CPA firms to remove the stigma associated with mental health care and advocates, “We must listen and watch to see the pain behind the smiles and encourage those who are struggling to get professional help.”   

Jason Bramwell writes for Gong Concern about a CPA firm that actively embraces work-life balance practices. Cover & Rossiter, in Wilmington, Delaware, keeps the average work week below 40 hours and, for those crunch times when overtime is necessary, the company makes sure that the employees are “not working obscene hours.” The company also offers flex time, recognizing that not all people have the same scheduling preferences.

The Benefits of Work-Life Practices, According to Cover & Rossiter’s recruiter Lindsay Wheeler:

  • Managing burnout, because people are well-rested and happier, 
  • Better quality work because employees make fewer mistakes, and 
  • Greater willingness to work for the company and do right by our clients.
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