The dangers of workaholism often surface during the yuletide period and accountants are often among the most susceptible to them, writes Philip Fisher.
It is a sad fact that far too many of our number are workaholics. Their ex-wives or ex-husbands will have told them so on numerous occasions, typically in phone calls from half-empty marital beds to lonely offices, but those afflicted never listen.
The situation has been made far worse by modern means of communication, not to mention the frequently unreasonable demands of clients.
In the past, if you went away then, give or take the odd 20p shoved into a phone box for a panic call, your clientele, the tax authorities and anyone else who had a vested interest accepted that fact, albeit occasionally grudgingly.
Now, there are many colleagues and clients who do not understand the concept of a holiday, expect phones to be turned on and manned 24/7 and e-mails to be accepted and responded to practically before they are received.
The acid test of your own susceptibility to the dangers of workaholism (depressingly that word is now recognised by Microsoft Word's spellchecker) can most easily be taken during the yuletide period.
In an ideal world, you should be able to answer no to each succeeding question below.
- Did you do any work on Christmas Day?
- Did you do any work on Boxing Day?
- Given that it was a Monday this year, did you do any work on Christmas Eve?
- If so, did you finish several hours earlier than usual?
- Are you taking off Thursday and Friday?
- Will you work over the ensuing weekend?
- How about New Year’s Eve?
- And New Year’s Day?
Those with no susceptibility to this nasty disease will have comfortably answered in the negative to every single one of those questions - yes, really. An acceptable alternative might be to answer yes to some of the intermediate days, with the codicil that you have plans for a holiday in January or perhaps August, and have been saving up the leave allowance with those in mind.
Anyone who enjoys a flutter could probably bet against 50% of accountants passing this test, even if you take questions five and six out of the equation and allow for a short day as reasonable on Christmas Eve.
Indeed, there could be thousands of accountants who put a dampener on Christmas Day by spending large portions of it glued to their laptop or iPhone when they should have been carving the turkey, entertaining the children or listening to the Queen begging our politicians and her subjects more widely for a brief burst of peace and harmony.
In the long run, working 365 days a year under pressure is unhealthy and will probably shorten your life. Perhaps it would be good to have a New Year’s resolution that includes turning off the mobile phone for a full day at least once a week, taking your full allocation of holiday and, allowing for some knot tying on the first day of each vacation, enjoying a number of total breaks from anything to do with business regularly throughout the year.
Alternatively, work yourself into divorce, estrangement from the kids and an early grave, since that is the pattern that the true workaholic’s family will instantly recognise.
(Just in case you wondered, this article was written very late on Christmas Eve by an accountant who needed to clear the following day to get some serious work done).