The concept of work-life balance in the accounting profession is well documented on Going Concern. I wanted to discuss why all work-life balance initiatives in the accounting profession will ultimately fail. I was at a conference last month and the MC Chris Helder, explained an interesting concept which I have illustrated below:
At the Boomer Stage, work and life were mutually exclusive. You had your job and you had your life. They started overlapping in the 80s with Gen X where the circles started converging. Xers started demanding balance, probably due to increasing demands on both the home front and the work front. These days the circles of work and life are converging on each other in such a way that there is no discernable difference between the two. This is both a threat and an opportunity that I discussed at Xerocon last year.
This is what they mean when they talk about work-life integration, as opposed to work-life balance which suggests the two are separate. Work-life integration is not a problem when the following is true:
“If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.”
The problem is that I don’t know many millennial accountants that love what they’re doing. Which would explain why, “I am a Millennial and I Hate Accounting” was one of my most popular blogs on GC. Millennials are looking for meaning and purpose above all else. I suspect that a lack of fulfilment in the public practice will manifest in millennials exiting the profession early to pursue positions in corporate or their own business over following the traditional “partner track.” This phenomena is just one factor of the shifting labor force element of the accountapocalypse, and one the profession should take seriously.