The numbers don’t look so good when it comes to accounting and finance workers’ level of happiness, according to a new Robert Half report, The Secrets of the Happiest Companies and Employees.
Research for the report, which focuses on eight professional fields, found that employees in finance, accounting and financial services were among those least happy on the job. They were also the ones with the lowest level of interest in their work.
Does this mean accounting and finance professionals are doomed to live without job satisfaction? Far from it. But if the shoe fits for you, it may mean taking career happiness into your own hands. Here are six steps you could take if workplace happiness seems about as impossible as zero-calorie doughnuts or a perfect score on the CPA exam:
1. Scrutinize the reasons you’re not happy
You analyze a lot of datasets, but have you ever evaluated your own happiness level? Compile a list of what’s stopping you from being satisfied in your job. Perhaps you’d rather work less with clients and more with big data, or maybe you’d like to finally earn that certification and boost your salary. Making a tangible list can help. After all, you can’t fix something until you know what the problem is.
2. Take a well-deserved break
In our report, only about 65 percent of respondents working in accounting, finance and financial services reported that they have a healthy work-life balance. Yes, that’s a majority, but it’s near the bottom of the list compared to other professions. Additionally, almost half of those responding to a separate survey said they don’t use all their paid time off because they’re afraid of work piling up while they’re away.
Not enough play makes for stressed-out accountants. So be sure to use your vacation time to recharge your batteries and come back happier. Ask colleagues to cover for you so you’re not overwhelmed when you return. You can pay back the favor later.
3. Connect with colleagues
When you enjoy the people you work with, heading to the office each morning can be a pleasure, even if you’re not 100 percent enamored with your job. Our research finds that people with strong workplace friendships are as much as two and a half times happier than those without.
Don’t have any work buddies? Then take the initiative to create strong relationships. Ask them to join you for lunch, or get a group together after quitting time. And don’t bow out of work-related social functions because you’re too tired or too shy. If respondents to our survey are any indication, chances are good that the more you mix and mingle, your level of workplace happiness will increase.
4. Be honest with your boss
Your manager may never know your workplace happiness has hit the skids if you don’t say anything. Do both of you a favor by bringing up this sensitive subject.
Before you do, brainstorm some ways you could be happier in your role, keeping in mind that your aim is to create a win-win situation for the company as well as yourself. Then, sit down with your boss to discuss setting career goals and present ideas for greater job satisfaction. For example, if you’re a financial analyst who feels ready for a senior-level accountant position, ask whether there will be any openings in the near future and, if so, to keep you in mind.
5. Make a career move
If you’re in an unhappy slump because you no longer love your career, it may be time to launch a job search. There are plenty of nontraditional accounting career paths, such as environmental or entertainment accounting, that may align better with your passions. Our happiness study finds that one of the top factors in workplace happiness is interesting and meaningful work.
If you’re feeling especially bold, you could even relocate and make a fresh start. Do some research to find the city that best suits your needs.
6. Take the consulting route
Tired of the regular 9-to-5 and lack of autonomy? Consider the consulting career path. This career move allows you to work on a project basis, meaning you would have the opportunity to dive head first into an array of projects. As an added bonus, you pick your clients and get to work for different companies — and make new networking contacts — with each engagement, which could add much-needed variety to your accounting career.
Kick the accounting blues by taking steps today to amp up your happiness quotient. Job satisfaction is within your control and your reach.
Want more insights?
Download Robert Half’s free report, IT'S TIME WE ALL WORK HAPPY.®, for more research and analysis on what today’s accounting and finance professionals need to feel satisfied at work.