Mental health issues rather than employment topics headed the list of enquiries to the Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA) for the first time over the summer, but the signs are that accountants are managing their work/life balance well
CABA says workplace queries normally dominate calls to its support services, but in the last few months have been pushed into second place with financial support in third position. The most common mental health issues recorded during 2014 have been stress followed by depression, bereavement, relationship issues and addiction.
Kelly Feehan, CABA service manager said: ‘These statistics should not be taken as a direct indication that mental health is becoming an increasing issue among accountants. Instead, our interpretation would be that members of the profession are becoming more aware of the effects of mental health issues and less reticent to admit that they might have an issue and need support.’
Separate research by recruitment specialists Robert Walters backs up this view. It found that the length of the average working week for accountants is gradually growing and now stands at 44.4 hours, a rise from 44.3 hours in 2013. It says nearly nine in every ten accounting professionals clock up at least 40 hours per week, while there is a year-on-year increase in the number of accountants working 50 or more hours per week, from 28% to 30%.
However, the firm’s Career Lifestyle Survey also found that despite working longer hours, most accountants are keen to retain a sound balance between work and home life, with 65% saying that work-life balance is ‘very important,’ more than those who rate remuneration (45%), status (24%) or even interest in the work (43%) as similarly important.
Andrew Setchell, director of accountancy recruitment at Robert Walters, said: ‘Working hours for accountants continue to creep up, fuelled by the improving economic outlook and a rejuvenated climate for investment. However, the results of the survey do show that, compared to a number of other professions, those working in accountancy are still capable of striking a healthy balance between time spent in and out of the office.’
For those finding it harder to manage competing demands and who experience stress or other mental health issues, CABA says it can offer support and can often provide services such as counselling more rapidly than through the NHS.
Feehan said: ‘We offer a range of highly confidential services to help accountants in this area but one fact we would underline is that, as with so many other issues, the earlier you come to us, the faster and more effective the remedy is likely to be.’
More information on CABA is available from www.caba.org.uk