Tooba Siddiqui is a recently qualified chartered accountant. Here, she shares her first-hand experience of the challenges those in the accountancy profession might be facing.
I have worked in a number of different firms and industries and one thing that unites them is a shared sense of stress. Different environments can impact the stress levels of employees and how organisations’ respond can make a big difference.
From conversations I’ve had with colleagues, it seems to me that this was first brought about by the pandemic, although there’s no denying that the cost of living crisis has made things worse. When businesses are worried about their income, as many have been since Covid hit, they turn to their accountant for help. It’s a huge amount of weight to carry, especially if your own firm is feeling the pressure. Burnout is a very real problem in our industry right now; I’ve seen plenty of teams shrink while workload increases.
Then, of course, there is the possibility of the cost of living crisis affecting accountants in their home lives, too.
This particular issue is something that, although it isn’t widely discussed within the industry, absolutely should be. It can difficult to admit, but accountants are just as vulnerable as everyone else to financial challenges. If you’re working in a struggling firm and dealing with frightened clients, all while worrying about debt or even your own job security, the stress is greater. To find yourself struggling when you work in finance can have a real impact on your self-worth.
It’s been a difficult few years, and there’s no sign of things letting up. It’s no wonder people in our community are struggling. But if you’re someone who is, understandably, finding the current climate challenging, there are things you can do to preserve your wellbeing.
We need to be better at communicating in the workplace if we’re struggling. You don’t have to do this alone, and you shouldn’t feel like you’re burdening someone by wanting to have a conversation. We talk so much about the companies we work for, but it’s actually about the people we work for and investing in your relationship with your line manager can go a long way. When we’re stressed, we tend to withdraw and try to shut the world out. If you can build a strong relationship with your line manager, there’s a better chance they’ll recognise when you’re doing this and be able to help you.
For employers, there’s a lot of talk in the sector about redundancies, with very little in the way of reassurance. This all adds to the growing sense of worry. Regular communication with your employees is essential to maintaining feelings of security in their jobs.
Finally, remember that accountancy isn’t all about numbers. In reality, you spend a lot of time dealing with people. Issues and crises like the ones we’re facing today are inevitable. All we can do is come back to being human, and focus on the things that are within our control.
For those of us who are newly qualified or who are in this career for life, the journey ahead will be rewarding, but could very well be long. When times get tough, remember why you joined this sector in the first place and find the tools that will help you be resilient.
Seek out help if you feel yourself struggling and be open to the help on offer, beyond all be kind to yourself.