Stress and happiness exist hand-in-hand in UK accountants?

Industry news roundup: week ended 12 Feb 2014:

Accountants are a highly complicated lot , as two conflicting research studies have revealed that they’re both the happiest and the most stressed right now.

The second annual Wellbeing Survey, conducted by CABA, found that stress was a serious problem amongst the chartered accountant community. In fact, the number of workers that needed to take some time off because of overwhelming stress levels has multiplied by a factor of two over the past 12 months. A rather sizable 15 per cent reported stress driving them from work in 2013, while that figure was 8 per cent the previous year.

However, a related survey found that 2013 saw the majority of accountants working over the course of the last year to be generally content. A full 63 per cent reported happiness in their job situation. So what does this mean for the industry in general? I haven’t the foggiest clue, other than accountants are most likely some of the most conflicted people out there.

I suppose it makes perfect sense if you think about it, though: the accountancy field is a very exacting one, as a single mistake can easily send the entirety of a firm’s finances into the kind of spiral that is impossible to recover from. That’s stressful enough – maybe not as stressful as the job of an air traffic controller, where the lives of hundreds of people are in your hands in any given day, but when you’re talking about the financial security and livelihood for companies big and small the stress can obviously add up.

On the other hand, there are some people that simply flourish under those circumstances. I can’t possibly imagine being one of those people – the idea of working in a high-stress environment like that makes me want to run for the hills – but some people just don’t feel challenged unless there’s something serious on the line. It’s their driving factor, and indeed can lead them to perform better and enjoy their work more than if there was little at stake.

Well, well done you if you’re one of those mad accountants who enjoys working under that kind of pressure. I’ll be back here where it’s a bit less hectic, enjoying a nice cup of tea and hoping I did my taxes right this year.

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