Does reduced stress, better physical and mental well-being, increased job satisfaction, and improved productivity sound intriguing to you as an accounting professional?
These are just a few of the benefits of work-life balance — something that a majority of accounting and financial professionals want but defining it for yourself can greatly depend on factors unique to your individual preferences and circumstances.
Understanding Work-Life Balance
The importance of work-life balance in 2023 is more significant now than ever. The dynamic and changing nature of the modern working era has brought about many priority shifts in today’s accounting and finance workforce.
Accounting professionals play a vital role in organizations, managing financial records, ensuring compliance, and providing valuable insights for decision-making. However, the nature of their work often involves long hours, tight deadlines, and high levels of responsibility.
Despite more than 300,000 accountants and auditors having left their jobs due to CPA requirements and workplace shifts due to baby boomer retirement, the accounting and finance profession still proves to be a stable and recession-proof industry. Yes, it’s true that the profession is demanding, especially during busy season and month-end or year-end! But, you CAN still find a good environment and achieve work-life balance.
Here are a few key areas to think about when asked the interview question “What does work-life balance mean to you”:
Establishing clear boundaries for yourself (and for your employer) is crucial. Employees should communicate their availability and accessibility to clients, colleagues, and supervisors to ensure uninterrupted personal time and minimize work-related interactions during non-work hours.
In recent years, the ability to work from home has entered the conversation and muddied the waters of accessibility. When home becomes the workplace, it’s important to think about where the cutoff between your work and your personal life is.
A remote accountant may have to be more self-disciplined than someone who regularly goes into an office. Having cut-off times for work and personal time is integral. It’s easy to feel the imbalance from home and careful consideration should be made of where your ideal situation sits.
Accessibility Self-Reflection Questions
- What hybrid schedule is best for me – mentally, physically?
- Does a commute to an office help me separate work life and home life?
- When I work from home, do I notice clients, colleagues, and supervisors reaching out to me outside of business hours?
Trust & Delegation
A trusting work environment fosters collaboration and effective communication among team members.
In an environment where you can trust colleagues to handle delegated tasks, it encourages open dialogue, knowledge sharing, and seamless coordination. This collaborative environment enhances teamwork, improves problem-solving capabilities, and reduces stress levels for everyone involved.
By delegating tasks to capable colleagues, you can have peace of mind, knowing that your responsibilities are being handled. This enables you to detach from work during personal time and achieve a better balance between your professional and personal life.
Trust and Delegation Self-Reflection Questions
- Am I empowering my coworkers or employees to handle tasks without me?
- Have I noticed that I have an issue letting go of control?
- Would others characterize me as a ‘workaholic’?
- Do I trust the people I work with to get things done when I’m not there?
- How could delegating be improved at my workplace (i.e. clearer communication on expectations, better training, etc.)?
- Have you made sure that everyone on your team who depends on the work you do can function normally without you there?
At the end of the day, the discussion around work-life balance is typically a personal one, chiefly involving the question of what you’re looking for. Anna Orr, Executive Recruiter at Accountants One says, “Work-life balance is driven by you. Be strategic about planning it [PTO], disciplined about taking it, and contemplating the win-win for everybody.”
Always think about the win-win. Whatever the case may be regarding PTO (paid time off), or more balanced work weeks, you should try to establish a win-win scenario for you and your employer.
Here is one example of a win-win scenario: You identify and implement a new accounting technology such as an automation solution or accounting software that speeds up a process whereby your employer benefits by efficient and accurate accounting processes and you get an extra five hours back of your week.
Remember, the guarantee of what you’re looking for might not be on the table immediately, but in most cases, the more trust and credibility you show your employer, the more likely you will get the work-life balance you are looking for.
Win-Win Self-Reflection Questions
- How am I currently bringing value to the organization?
- What processes can I improve for my organization that will help me and the organization itself?
- Am I putting in the necessary preparation to have the time off I need?
Establishing a win-win scenario requires collaboration and commitment from both you and your employer. By recognizing and actively promoting work-life balance, employers and employees can forge a path toward a more fulfilling and harmonious future.
Take the time to think strategically about your time and efforts. You want to be effective wherever and however you’re working. The key to finding a work-life balance that you want doesn’t lie exclusively in finding a job that has it built in. Most of the time it lies in the collaboration with your employer, your team, and ultimately yourself.