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This Is How Some Accountants Are Surviving Busy Season

Thanks to those who stopped by Tuesday’s post to discuss work-life balance issues. I also received an email from a PWC reader which details the firm’s “official” tips for dealing with hell busy season. Let’s begin with the PWC checklist of helpful tips. The best of:

Work late two nights a week and stay for dinner. The other two nights leave by 7, 7:30 so you can have dinner at home. This way you aren’t staying until 9 or 10 and eating at the client every night of the week.

Is Dubya promoting a four-day workweek or just assuming that most people don’t count Friday as anything more than a 9 to 5 barnburner? Either way, factor in a 7:00pm departure, home by eight, dinner on the table an hour later. While thoughts of what you left at work brewing on your mind? I don’t think so.

Work 7am – 7pm Monday through Friday. This allows for team members to have dinner at home and eliminates the need to work weekends.

It also means your team members land the best parking spots in the lot. It’s all about the little victories, isn’t it? FTW.

Agree which weekends the team will work from the client site at the start of the audit if this is something that can be accomdated by the engagement team. Set an agenda for those weekends and send a calendar invite. This way everyone knows what their expectations are upfront related to hours you will work and what you should try to accomplish. Sending a calendar invite and working hours for the weekends gives staff the opportunity to plan around those hours instead of not knowing when you might wrap up that Saturday.

I like this one. Communication is constantly at a shortage when it comes to weekend work, especially on larger engagements where weekend face time is an awful reality. Nonetheless, you competent team leaders out there should consider this. Be mindful of the realistic possibility that some team members will finish Saturday’s agenda on Friday. Do these people still need to come in on Saturday?

Make your course of action known ahead of time. The personal motivation of your staff will be severely threatened if their timely work is unknowingly rewarded with more. There’s nothing wrong with updating the meeting request Monday through Thursday as work progresses; but at some point the staff needs to know what to expect.

PWC’s list also included the popular idea discussed in the comments of Tuesday’s post regarding leaving early one night a week. Commenter bitteraccountant made this point:

If you think that it (a work-life balance) does exist, and going home at 6pm during the week and working till 10 the remainder is what work life balance means, you have a fucked up image of a life.

Touché, bitteraccountant. To a degree, the comment rips the blinders off and exposes the truth of the situation. Is it naïve to think that the public accounting industry can really have a near balance of work and life, especially during busy season? Oftentimes it’s not happy hours or PTA awards that your staff needs to get through the winter months (although the vodka doesn’t hurt). Clear communication from everyone, straightforward status updates, and a minute amount of respect for colleagues is a stronger foundation than most teams care to admit they’re missing.

Posted in DWB