Long hours hit accountants’ careers

Accountancy
firms’ working practices have come under the spotlight following research which
reveals that four out of 10 accountants are fed up with their long hours.

The
study, published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants this month, finds that
regular working in the evenings and at weekends is common.

A
total of 57 per cent of respondents said they often work evenings, 37 per cent
work at weekends and 27 per cent fail to take leave entitlements.

The
study forms the first phase of the institute’s workplace initiative to tackle
skills shortages in the profession.

Kathryn
Britten, chairwoman of the initiative said, “The first phase of the research
reflects a real concern that failing to comply with the stereotypical
office-based, long-hours culture is detrimental to the individual’s career.”

The
findings, which also cover HR managers, show that flexible working practices
are spreading.

All
firms surveyed offer part-time/reduced hours working and study leave and 80 per
cent provide secondment opportunities and career breaks.

However,
many respondents are unaware of all the flexible provisions offered by firms.

Only
12 per cent of respondents said it was easy to find out about work-life support
programmes in their organisations.

Carmen
Burton, HR manager for the accountancy firm the Norton Practice, told Personnel
Today that her firm was reviewing its working hours.

She
said, “From a personal point of view, we don’t like employees to work weekends
but evening work is up to the employee.

“We
are looking at flexible working practices but our partners have reservations
about this – it’s an issue of trust.”

Burton
agrees with the survey’s findings that chartered accountants under 30 are most
likely to regard working long hours as unacceptable. She said, “I’ve noticed
trainees are less adaptable to long working hours.”

The
research was conducted by the Umist school of management and Manchester
Metropolitan University, which received 670 responses from chartered
accountants.

www.icaew.co.uk

By
Karen Higginbottom

Comments are closed.