Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life, as the saying goes. But what if you’re one of the 40% of accountants who are stuck in a rut?
In 2017 AccountingWEB’s anonymous blogger The Imprudent Accountant likened the job as a partner to the captain of the Titanic after it hit the iceberg.
And there is plenty for an accountant to feel miserable about: whether it is the added burden of regulation, pressure on fees, the senior partner’s despotic email policy, or it could be Tim, the sparky new junior member of staff who is earning more than you.
Senior accountants are stuck in a rut
It could be any of the above that led to around 40% of partners and others in senior and middle management to feel stuck in a rut, as found in a survey conducted by the aptly named executive mentors Rutbusters.
The cloud of misery that circles these demotivated partners trapped in their job glooms down on everyone else in the office. So while the accountant in a management position wallows, the people working for them complain of reporting to a low energy boss who is often slow to make decisions (25%), not interested in change (35%), providing little leadership (42%), and getting little work done (33%).
The hatred accountants have for their job is becoming a frequent conversation within the profession. The number of accountants fleeing the profession has increased due to the additional workload and with MTD being the final straw. While others riding it out are burdened with stress, anxiety and ill health, as one beleaguered accountant recently confessed.
Another survey released by the chartered accountant charity CABA hit on similar nerves, where one-third of accountants admitted feeling stressed every day. The burnout culture was perpetrated by emails.
But the accountancy profession is not unique here. Senior teams from many other businesses are also seeing their motivation, energy and respect from their team nosedive.
The obvious answer is for those dreading the morning wake up alarm is to just leave. But these accountants would rather cling on than worry about the financial impact of leaving (26%) or family commitments (27%).
Age discrimination is still a concern
While 24% show that age discrimination is still a concern within the profession as they worry that their age will mean they won’t be considered for roles elsewhere.
Rutbusters points out that this could present issues for firms that have problems retiring those at the top of partnership to make way for new partners.
But the good news is that while there is a 10% hardcore of unmotivated, unfulfilled and low energy senior people at accountancy firms, the typical accountant in their 40s and 50s feels more motivated, fulfilled and happier than those at most other businesses.
For Kedge Martin, the CEO of Rutbusters, the research should act as a warning that accountants in their 40s and 50s can get stuck in demotivating and harmful ruts.
“They get there often because the challenge has gone and each year seems very much like the last. Once they have lost their fulfillment such people resist change and demotivate their team, even though personally they may well still be hitting their billable hours.
“By looking after these people, who have lost the satisfaction their colleagues get from advising clients firms are not only helping the partnership stay vibrant but also addressing at an early stage the mental health issues that follow from hating your job.”