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September 25, 2023

Accounting News Roundup: Burnout and Knowing When to Quit | 09.05.17

accounting news burnout


I wrote briefly about workaholism right before the holiday weekend, and now that we’ve returned, some of you might feel angst and woe about returning to work. I think this is normal and should not concern you. However, if those feelings occur on an average Tuesday, then maybe something else is going on: Burnout.

This New York Times article lists some of the more common signs of burnout:

Feeling emotionally drained and mentally unwell. Nausea. Being unable to sleep or constantly fighting sicknesses like head colds.

Feeling alienated by your colleagues and bosses, feeling constantly underappreciated, or feeling ostracized by them.

Feeling you are not personally achieving your best, or regularly “phoning it in.”

I experienced all this and more during the waning days of my public accounting career. I remember showing up to work brazenly late, but no one seemed to mind, so that made me feel even more underappreciated and ostracized because I was essentially invisible. Looking back on it now is kinda funny, but it’s also clear to me that I didn’t quite know what to do about my burnout.

“[P]eople […] shut up about some of the stressors they’re facing because they don’t want to be viewed about not doing their best,” says one doctor quoted in the article. Which isn’t surprising since American culture loathes the vulnerable and champions those who bottle up and persevere…or blow a gasket.

The cycle of working too much and burning out is so prevalent that 50 percent of respondents in a recent survey said they “are consistently exhausted because of work.” That suggests worker exhaustion is borderline normal in regular jobs, although it’s probably still higher in public accounting where it’s been considered a minor occupational hazard for decades.

Accountants behaving badly

You might think that only accountants who are down on their luck would be susceptible to the temptations of embezzlement, but that would not be the case in this particular story:

The 30-year-old accountant accused of embezzling at least $300,000 from her employer won two Michigan Lottery jackpots during her employment there.

Both jackpots — one $20,000 and the other $60,000 — Nichol Evans won in late 2016 by playing online gambling games, according to Michigan Lottery articles.

Even after winning $80k, authorities allege that Ms. Evans was forging checks into June 2017. I think most people would agree that this instance of someone winning the lottery, quitting your day job would have been a good idea.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Megan Lewczyk wrote about accountants and the internet of things. In Open Items, a Senior 3 with a “large regional firm” who “would like to set myself up for a nice career in industry at some point,” is considering a pre-IPO industry role or Big 4.

In other news:

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