Walking the Work/Life Tightrope - Asia Pacific Survey
More than half of all accountants in the Asia-Pacific region (53%) have admitted that an increase in working hours has had a detrimental effect on their health with stress1, low energy, significant weight gain/loss and insomnia all ranking high according to the latest survey conducted by CareersinAudit.com2.
Nine in ten of all accountants are working in excess of a 40 hour week, with nearly half of these accountants (43%) working between 50-70 hours a week. More than two thirds (68%) have seen hours increase over the last year with nearly a quarter (24%) working at least of 2-5 hours more a week and 14% working at least 5-10 hours extra a week.
Yet there seems to be no respite when accountants go on holiday. Nearly two thirds (64.4%) of accountants are checking their phone or computer for work emails at least once a day with a further 14% checking between every 2-4 days. Just 18% turn off all work communications as they feel their holiday is a time to completely tune off from work. Even getting away from the workplace could be a problem as just over half of all bosses (55%) are encouraging staff to use up all their annual leave.
Four in ten accountants admitted that they have been prevented, by work, from attending important events including funerals, important school events for a child, weddings and nearly a fifth (18%) have had to miss a family holiday.
Despite a third of companies (34%) supporting sick leave and 18% being allowed time off work, just 2% were given a coach or counsellor when their health suffered. More than a quarter (27%) admitted that their company did not offer support and a further 13% were too scared to tell their company as they thought it would have a negative impact on their career progression.
Other highlights of research:
- Given the option of freeing 10 hours a week of their working life, more than half of all accountants surveyed (53%) would spend it with family, friends or partner. A further 18% would be playing sport or doing a hobby.
- Whilst there may be a desire to have a better work life balance, nearly three quarters of all accountants surveyed (72.5%) accept that giving greater priority to personal interests and or family would hinder their career progression.
- When asked which country’s accountants are best at managing their work-life balance , 30% said the UK and 21% said the USA. (Nearly half of the UK accountants admitted their workload has had a detrimental effect on their health too.)
- More than half (57%) believe that teachers (out of all the professions) have the best work life balance.
Simon Wright, Director of CareersinAudit Australia & New Zealand adds:
“Accountants in the Asia Pacific region are having to accept a big hike in the working hour week . Yet whilst there may be times when specific projects demand more man-hours, there has to be respite at some point. Yet some accountants are worried to take time out, because they feel this will hinder their career progression.
Bosses should be encouraging staff to take all their annual leave and, at the same time, create a culture where the vast majority are not having to check in and look at work emails when they should be enjoying the holiday.
We are now seeing the consequences with so many suffering poor health. If nothing is done to address the issue, the region may witness a mass exodus of accountants as many choose to work abroad in favour of a better work/life balance.”
1. Signs of stress may be cognitive, emotional, physical, or behavioural. These include memory problems, poor judgement, anxiety, constant worrying, short temper, insomnia feeling overwhelmed, depression, aches pains, nausea, chest pain, eating more or less and procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
2. CareersinAudit.com’s survey was conducted amongst 1231 accountants in a wide range of roles including newly qualifieds, auditors, seniors, managers, senior managers, heads of audit, financial controllers, directors and partners. The research took place in June 2012.