We received the following email from a distraught and burnt out Big 4 auditor in the Southeast: The level of morale in the [XYZ] office is at an all time low. Discussion with low level staff, through managers, have yielded the same opinion of overwhelming expectations without the needed support from the firm. They want […]
Although it feels like it was a lifetime ago, I’m going to ask you to recall back to The Before TimeTM when everyone still worked in offices. Picture it: you’re back at your desk, deep into a project, and finding your groove. Your fingers are tapping away, and the work is getting done before your […]
Busy season stress is no joke. When it hits and those 60-hour work weeks start piling up, where do you turn? You could (and probably will) drain every last drop out of the company coffee pot or slam green energy drinks composed of dubious ingredients. You’ll probably take a few Office Space-style breaks along the […]
Millennials are leading the nation in stress according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Fusion reports: The group’s annual Stress in America report found that millennials, which they defined as individuals aged 18-35, reported an average stress level of 5.5, compared with 5.4 for Gen X, 4.5 for Baby Boomers and 3.5 for […]
So, CalCPA has this interesting article about managing stress that is definitely worth a read but it's the following description that really stood out to us: The accounting profession, much more so than most, has been known for its high stress environment and culture. I’ve seen an increasing lack of healthy life balance result in […]
Have you experienced workplace stress at any point in your career? In the last year? How about the last month? Or perhaps today? CGMA Magazine reports that stress at work is most often caused by a familiar factor. Understaffing: One-third of professionals frequently experience excessive pressure at work, according to a global survey by Towers […]
It's March. Some of you are tired. Some of you are malnurished malnourished. Some of you are thisclose to crawling under your desks and curling into the fetal position until someone comes by to spur you back into action. And for some, only a bathroom stall can provide the stillness and quiet that a frantic mind […]
I Want to be a CA is a Canadian site, obviously, but Big 4 misery is a universal thing that transcends race, sex and geography. In the spirit of busy season, I'm happy to share the following with those of you slaving away dreaming of running off to the circus. "The Accountant" left Big 4 […]
Much like the flu, it's far too early to say how bad this busy season will be. But this particular case doesn't sound good: We have about 10 days between when the client closes their financials and the earnings release…going to be an intense 10 days… — Life at EY (@EYstaff) January 15, 2013 We'll […]
Deloitte partner Daniel Pirron's suicide is terrible. Anyone that has had to cope with a loved one taking his or her own life knows the helpless feeling you have in the aftermath of such a tragedy. If someone at your company committs suicide, the emotional level is obviously different but it is no less shocking regardless […]
According to an intrepid survey by Accountemps that investigated what stresses out CFOs, balancing work and life responsibilities was listed as the biggest drag. This beat out office politics, keeping up with accounting and finance regulations, higher workloads, and a "challenging commute." Maybe all these men and women wouldn't be so stressed if more of them […]
Yeah, we all have our tax season stories. Like remember the day in April when you got arrested on charges of stealing from your business partner while your husband got arrested for making a drunken spectacle of himself at the local elementary school? You don’t? Then your story can’t top this one out of the […]
Yep! And apparently there’s new evidence “suggesting” as much:
The Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association is logging rising numbers of calls from professionals who appear to be developing mental health issues, or believe they are at risk of doing so. Interim operations team manager Helena Coxshall said the evidence is not conclusive as the helpline does not offer medical diagnosis, but highlighted rising numbers of calls in the second half of 2011. “These are coming from people who feel that they are heading towards a potential breakdown and we also see it from people who call us regarding other issues, but appear to be showing symptoms of mental illness of which they may be unaware,” she continued.
So take care out there, masters of the double-entry system. The last thing we want to see is any of you cracking up.
Accountants’ mental health ‘hit by stress’ [Accountancy Age]
Almost two-thirds (63%) of accountants felt their firms should do more to support health and wellbeing, according to a new survey. More than half (55%) said their stress levels have increased over the past 12 months and 68% said their jobs have made them ill, citing stress as the main cause, Sovereign Health Care reports.
Chief executive Russ Piper said higher workloads combined with pay freezes have hit morale and dented employee contentment, noting 53% of accountants said they would change jobs for a better benefits package on the same salary.
Accountants bemoan unfeeling employers [Accountancy Age]
Not only that but another shocking revelation is that they use caffeine to help them pull through this tough stretch.
They work 60-hour weeks this time of year, relying on pots of strong coffee and late-night dinners to help them calculate an endless swirl of numbers. Accountants are working feverishly to meet the deadline to file their clients’ tax returns this year even though they have extra time to do so.
Also, this just in – things get stressful because taxes are complicated:
The late nights can get intense, according to Carolyn Dolci, a tax partner in the Hackensack office of EisnerAmper. “It is busier than last year, partly because of the complexity of the tax code,” she said.
If you’re experiencing this phenomenon in your office, tell us your story in the comments below. Things will remain fluid for a few more weeks; we’ll keep you updated with any developments.
Accountants burning the candles at both ends [Star-Ledger]
Actually, there might be a few of them but we’re talking about a very specific instance. A partner with a hectic international travel schedule got taken to the cleaners by his wife after she discovered that he was keeping company on the side while on his business trips, including the aforementioned hookers. And as luck would have it, some of the court documents found their way into our inbox. We’ve clipped some of the juicy parts for you:
It should be noted that this particular situation took place a number of years ago and proceedings were still being wrapped up fairly recently. Now, the hookers angle is especially salacious (which we like) but what does a situation like this say about the pressure that many globetrotting partners are under? The firms demand a lot from their top leaders and a lifestyle of high pressure and international travel can wear on a person. If whores on the cheap happen to be in close proximity to your hotel…well, it’s not inconceivable that some partners may want to blow off some steam. Landing an exotic piece of tail to help you cope with the stress while traveling on business may be a lot of fun but if you have a wife and kids and home, that’s where things get can complicated, and in this case expensive, as the following indicates:
And we didn’t even mention the possibility of the spreading around the clap. No one wins there.
Apparently! Health.com churned out “10 Careers With High Rates of Depression” and lo and behold, Financial Advisors and Accountants made the list of “fields […] in which full-time workers are most likely to report an episode of major depression in a given year.”
Stress. Stress. Stress. Most people don’t like dealing with their own retirement savings. So can you imagine handling thousands or millions of dollars for other people?
“There is so much responsibility for other people’s finances and no control of the market,” Legge says. “There is guilt involved, and when (clients) are losing money, they probably have people screaming at them with regularity.”
Over at CPA Success, Bill Sheridan writes, “That strikes me as a simplistic and overly dramatic conclusion, with no mention at all of the opportunities CPAs have to help their clients improve their personal and professional lives. But what do I know?” We agree with Bill, that the write-up doesn’t really portray accountants accurately, some might say, “bullshit” but stress is part of your job. Does that mean everyone feels like running into sick room and sobbing every day? Well…maybe some of you. There are plenty of people that thrive on the stress and then there are those that bottle it up until they finally quit with a melodramatic sendoff.
Everyone knows that working long hours for weeks on end can eventually get to even the toughest of white-collar warriors but your run-of-the-mill stressed out accountant typically has methods for dealing with the the busy season blues. Some people exercise; some people get their religion on; some people drink/smoke/snort themselves into oblivion. Do those things work? Sure, sometimes. But we’ve all worked with that person who you expect to suddenly not show up. Are there more of those people than there used to be? Hard to say. Maybe we should talk about it. Let it out; it will feel good. Plus, we’re cheaper than a therapist.
The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.
During the tax season of 1995-1996, Norm Lorch was not feeling well. He had a sore throat, but told himself it would go away. In any case, he did not have time to go to a doctor.
Lorch is principal of Owings Mills, Maryland-based Norman J. Lorch, Chartered, a firm that assists contractors, accountants, and attorneys in areas unique to government contracts.
Eventually, he spoke with a doctor on the phone who prescribed antibiotics – two weeks on and off – but he still did not feel much better. At one point, Lorch passed out, but he told himself that he had tripped on something, picked himself up, and went back to work.
While attending an American Bar Association conference, Lorch met a friend who would be conducting the session he was planning to attend. The friend told him in “pretty clear English” how he looked and said he needed to see a doctor. Lorch said no, but the friend insisted, saying that if Lorch didn’t call a doctor, he would stop the session.
Lorch set up an appointment for the next day. The doctor’s diagnosis was strep throat and made an appointment with a cardiologist for the following Monday. At first Lorch said “No, I have to go to Chicago,” but eventually he acquiesced. The strep had settled in Lorch’s aortic valve and destroyed it, causing congestive heart failure. He was given three to five days to live if he did not have immediate surgery.
“This is a crazy profession. Accountants are nuts. We work ourselves to death. I had allowed my clients to be the most important thing in my life. I didn’t listen to anybody,” Lorch told AccountingWEB.
“Making a few bucks less won’t kill you. When you are tired, quit. When you don’t feel good, stop working. Yes, some clients may leave, but they are going to find someone else if you die,” he said.
“I made a lot of money that year and eventually earned a penalty for underpayment of estimated taxes. I called the Internal Revenue Service to explain, spoke with a supervisor, and she said, ‘if you receive another penalty notice have them contact me.’
“Now, my priorities are my health and my family. My daughter had to leave college during her exams because of my medical condition, and I nearly missed her graduation. My clients can wait, and those that can’t wait can go. When you remember what comes first, everything else will fall in line,” Lorch said.
“When I teach, I tell everybody about this and what stress can do to your health because if I can help one person, it is worth it. I persuaded the moderator at an AICPA tax conference to allow me to speak to a group of 50 or 60 people when I wasn’t scheduled. As we were leaving, one man said, ‘Thank you very much. I am going to the hospital,’ Lorch said.
Since his illness, Lorch has lost weight and is careful what he eats. He walks five to seven days a week for one and a half miles. When he doesn’t feel well, he calls his doctor.
A specialist in financial oversight, compensation, and administration of U.S. government prime contracts and subcontracts, Lorch travels at least 50 percent of his working hours, but now plans travel with his health in mind. “I try to extend the hours, spreading two days of work over three.”
BKD Partner Found Dead at His Office
“Overtime-induced work stress might contribute to a substantial proportion of cardiovascular disease.”
~ Gordon McInnes, professor of clinical pharmacology at the University of Glasgow’s Western Infirmary.
On Monday we briefly mentioned the unfortunate case of Colin Tenner, a former PricewaterhouseCoopers partner that is suing the firm for disability discrimination. He is claiming that after he took a leave from the firm after “mismanagement by PwC and bullying by a client,” after which, negotiations for him to return to the firm fell apart and he was let go.
Now the Times Online is reporting some of the feelings of Tenner’s fellow partners. In January 2007, Mr Tenner took sick leave for a couple of days and that did not sit well with his fellow partner Hugh Crossey:
While Mr Tenner was on sick leave in January 2007, his managing partner, Hugh Crossey, e-mailed a third partner to say that he had heard that Mr Tenner was ill again and that the firm needed to point out that “real partners simply do not get sick”, it was alleged.
Depression? Anxiety? Apparently those aren’t real sicknesses, according to Hugh. But wait! Hugh wasn’t the only ones that thought Tenner was a total wuss. The tribunal also heard that a member of PwC’s “partner affairs team” (which probably has nothing to do with treating people like whores) wrote to the firm’s chief medical officer (?) “that there was a ‘very strongly held view that [Mr Tenner] was not as unwell’ as he claimed.” So not only is he total sissy, he’s also a faker.
Tenner claimed that his health had deteriorated to the point that it led him to “actively research ways of committing suicide,” although he actually never made any attempts on his own life.
PwC maintains that this mental health thing is all bullshit, sticking with the standard communiqué, “We believe that his claim is completely without merit and we will vigorously contest it.”
Seems like logical conclusion, right? Okay, it’s not the post office but yeesh, have you noticed the bitter Bob in the cubicle next to you? Is he approaching the breaking point? Busy season sucks after all and who knows when he’ll eventually crack:
Is our suggestion that accountants might be more likely to snap a little overblown? Maybe. But read this description from AccountingWEB before you blow us off:
You are sitting at your desk on a sunny Thursday afternoon. Your company is experiencing some hard times, and there have been layoffs company wide. A co-worker has been part of the layoffs, and is very distraught. The co-worker may have known layoffs were eminent, and thought it would never happen to them. All of a sudden, the co-worker pulls out a gun and starts shooting up the office!
Sound familiar? Of course! We imagine that someone throwing their 10-key at your head is more likely scenario but violence is violence. The article cites OSHA stating that 2 million people are victims of workplace violence every year but what’s even more exciting/troubling is the BLS survey that “70% of workplaces don’t have any type of violence prevention program in place.”
The solution? Training of course! AccountingWEB breaks it down like this:
• “Train managers and supervisors on how to detect the early warning signs of potential violence” – In other words, you know that guy who says ALOUD he’s thinking about punching the next person that asks him a stupid question? You should probably should have a word with him.
• “Tell employees that the firm wants to know about any threats or incidences, and that they are extremely serious about handling these problems.” – Naturally it helps if your company follows through on “serious about handling these problems” part. In other words, the guy swinging the sledge around should be tarred and feathered and then fired in front of the entire company. The proceedings should be broadcast internally for those that can’t attend in person. It’s simply not enough to fire the person. Public humiliation is imperative so people get the picture that this shit won’t be tolerated.
• “Implement a zero tolerance policy in the handbook relating to workplace violence” – And by zero tolerance, we’re talking no noogies, wedgies, open handed slaps, arm slugs, bloody knuckle contests or even berating someone to the point that they develop an eating disorder.
Violence in the Workplace: Are You Next? [AccountingWEB]