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Good Lord, the Miserable Employees of Accounting Firms Are Really Miserable

Our friends at Vault have released a few more teasers from their 2013 accounting survey and this time, it's what they're calling the Dark Side of Accounting. They went with Pink Floyd art, which is fine. I personally would have chosen Palpatine or DV or even Darth Maul, but whatever. They still do a good job.

The first bit of news from Vault is that all those work-life initiatives appear to be working because the majority of their employees are satisfied with everything: 

[E]mployees of the larger accounting firms, on average, appear to be very satisfied with their jobs. In fact, this year, so far (the survey is still open and can be taken here if you’re a public accounting professional), respondents give their firms an average score of 8.11 out of 10 in overall satisfaction […]. Compare this to last year's Accounting Survey, when respondents gave their firms an average score of 7.93 out of 10, and it seems that satisfaction is improving. Also, this year, 48 percent of respondents give their firms a 9 or 10 in overall satisfaction, meaning just about half of all accounting professionals are pretty darn satisfied. And last year, just under 46 percent of accountants rated their employers a 9 or 10 in satisfaction.

This has to make the firms feel good about their efforts. There's no breakdown by firm at this point, but even for one that has experienced a bit of a work-life setback, this is welcome news.

Of course there are some employees who simply cannot be satisfied. You could spring for the Google-style cafeteria, stock the bathrooms with gold thrones, and offer free massages and people would still incessantly bitch. We all know these people. You may, in fact, be one of those people. And Vault has chosen to highlight some of those people who don't simply dislike the firms they work for, they excel at this disliking. 

For example, some people are working so much they are RISKING THEIR LIVES just leaving the job:

My quality of life since starting here has been extremely poor. We eat dinner four to five nights a week at our desk. There’s no time to sleep. In fact, driving to and from work is dangerous because we’re all too tired to be driving. I think this job is terrible. 

Also, if you're a victim of vast partner-wing conspiracy, then you can kiss your career and your social life goodbye:

If a partner doesn’t like you and knows other senior partners, life becomes very difficult, and lonely. 

Speaking of partners, some of these people don't even bother with names, apparently. They just see you as living, breathing money-making machines:

Most partners have no clue who people are at this firm. 

Then there's the bald-faced liars: 

This manure factory says that it focuses on treating its people with care, but it’s a huge hoax that fools only the naïve at this firm. It’s a political stunt, much like presidential candidates focus their efforts on the middle class and small-business owners. These men and women could run for office and become serious contenders for the presidency.

And finally the sickies:

I think the firm possesses a ripe population for psychological studies in the human condition, masochism, and the aggregation of mundane disquietudes into horror.

So far all the improvements you've made, public accounting firms, you should be aware that these people are still in your employ. For your next work-life act, may I humbly suggest an in-house shrink?

The Dark Side of Accounting [Vault]