As an accounting professional, you know just how hard it can be to maintain a good work-life balance throughout busy season, summer time, and the latter end of the year. While in the past it was considered normal to work 7 days a week during busy season, or 80-90 hours regularly per week, the industry has shifted over time. In today’s economy, employees are becoming more focused on achieving a better work-life balance and as a result, an increasing number of public accounting firms have had to fine tune their benefit offerings to better match the demands of the market.
Irv Myones, Senior Managing Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance division, has witnessed firsthand the gradual shift in public accounting firms’ stance on offering better work-life balance to prospective candidates. “Over the years, small to mid-size firms have increased their focus on retention and succession planning efforts by taking steps to improve work-life balance for their employees,” says Irv. As a result, the level of flexibility a firm offers should be one of the factors you take into account as you evaluate if a particular firm would be the best move for you.”
Big 4 firms like PWC have led the charge through offering a relaxed dress code and ‘year-round flex time,’ leading the way for an increasing number of small to middle market firms to follow suit. For example, certain firms have implemented a ‘4-day work week’ during the summer, in which employees have the flexibility to use up to 40 hours toward time off and extended weekends. “With summer weather on our heels, one of the biggest benefits our candidates have highlighted revolved around the increased flexibility they had to take time off around major holidays,” says Irv. “While select firms closed their offices on Fridays during the summer, many others also offer ‘work-from-home’ policies or other flexible seasonal/year-round scheduling options.”
As you consider your next career move, think about how a flexible schedule could positively impact your career overall. Whether you are seeking a flexible schedule to spend more time with family, or trying to find more time to study for your CPA, having greater flexibility can ultimately lead to increased productivity. “While compensation might be at the top of your list of what you want in your next employer, take the time to research firms that give you a glimpse into certain policies that can provide a better work-life balance,” advises Irv. Ultimately, for those in the public accounting sector, now is a great time to reconsider the benefits your current employer offers and take advantage of the shifting benefits that firms are offering candidates.