Cash isn’t always king

A recent remuneration survey undertaken by Chartered Accountants (CA) of their members in Australia and New Zealand made it clear that cash isn’t always king when it comes to employee satisfaction. What did the survey tell us then?

  • 70% nominated work life balance as their key career priority.
  • 67% were after flexibility and flexible work hours.
  • Culture was a key driver in terms of work environment. Who you work with plays a key role in job satisfaction.
  • Being engaged in interesting and stimulating work was also key.

The survey results show that most employees would prefer to have more choice around the hours they work, putting in extra hours when it’s needed and deadlines are due but at the same time on a quiet day or when there is less demand on our time, to have the flexibility to work from home, work shorter days or have time away from the office.

It seems that an ideal workplace for CAs is probably one that puts their employees first. It offers stimulating work and assignments, and provides the flexible work arrangements to allow for the ebb and flow of daily workflow. 

A further interesting takeaway from the survey results is that workers are prioritising wellness and firms that have an emphasis on health and wellness seem to be doing a lot better than those that don’t. The survey also showed that a lot of firms, a lot of employers are offering their staff members a wellness allowance, which they can go and spend on gym shoes and gym memberships, fitness classes, anything that contributes to their health and wellness.

It’s not just about renumeration

Results like these show that Cash Is Not Always King. Your choice in job isn’t all about the remuneration. People want to have a work-life balance and to achieve more out of their day to day without simply slaving away for the money. Sydney accounting recruitment firm Richard Lloyd also completed a salary survey finding that that people receiving higher salaries and benefits aren’t necessarily happier in their jobs. It’s clear from these survey results that more and more early career professionals are prioritising their happiness within their career over all other benefits.

So, what does all this mean to the early career professional? Sometimes you don’t have a choice about where you work, you take the job that is offered, despite not being overly excited by it or the benefits because the number of graduates is greater than the number of jobs available. The desire to have a job, any job within your field of practice, especially after all those years of travel is strong.  If you find yourself in that job, the one that isn’t quite right, here are some tips to make sure your balance is right, even if you haven’t yet found that dream job.

Tips to find work/life balance

If you find yourself working in a practice area that isn’t quite what you were thinking – say you love family law but find yourself in the property team more often than you’d like – join the family law network, read and learn about family law to keep up to date with what is happening, despite not practicing in the area every day, keep learning about the area you want to be in.

Maintain, as best you can, normal work hours, not the possibly expected 10 hours per day.  If you have targets to meet, aim for early but always leave on time (expect when there is a team effort required for a big project).  The pull is hard in those early years and the balance between the expectations our work might have and the desire to head out of the office at 5pm is difficult.  There is always a solution though.

Enjoy life outside of work.  Catch up with friends and family, read, exercise, fill up those out-of-work buckets.  You will find the out-of-work buckets will motivate your daily productivity to get out of work on time and spend time doing those things you love and that motivate you.

Finally, keep looking, look out for that dream job, search for it regularly because you never know when jobs open.  If you have been reading and learning within your favourite area, looking after yourself and enjoying life outside work it will show in how you present at an interview.

The same report found that 35.96% of accountants feel overworked and are highly likely to seek out new employment. Of this group, those who did not have the flexible working arrangements that they would like said that almost 41% of them would consider new opportunities. This leads us into the costs of becoming an accountant or the costs of becoming a lawyer.

We all know that we’re going to have to put in long hours. Quite often, we’re going to have deadlines. Be that whether that’s ATO deadlines or whether that’s Court deadlines, and whenever those deadlines come up, things are always hectic at the pointy end. With that hectic period comes stress. When we have ATO deadlines, that is all in one hit, and you have every entity needing to have their tax lodged at that point in the year. And there’s really no give and take. Obviously you can apply for special consideration and adjournments and everything like that. However, it can cause an innate amount of stress and insomnia and all sorts of things, which leads us toward burnouts, and what happens there when we do burn out.

What is burnout?

So I guess we could talk about what is burnout? Well, basically it’s a syndrome that is combined from chronic exhaustion and a disconnection with your work. Those that are more likely to suffer burnout are the perfectionists and the workaholics.

Which, when we all started early out into our careers, we know we tend to have those traits.

We know that we’re going to have to put in the work now to get to the career advancements.

We know that there are going to be deadlines.

We know that’s going to cause added work that we’re going to need to adhere to.

We also know that if we’re not perfectionists, if we don’t put in a hundred percent effort, if we don’t double check, if we don’t triple check, if every i is not dotted, every t is not crossed, if a six is confused for a nine, we know that we’re the ones that are going to wear the brunt of that.

That is such a conducive environment to build stress. While some of us have personalities that can deal with different levels of stress, consistent stress, it will wear you down.

Not all stress is bad stress

Now, some people thrive under stress. It can enhance them. It can motivate them. And in short bursts it can cause focus and give people that little burst to get over that little hurdle that they have. However, when it’s consistent, when it’s day after day, week after week, month after month, and you can’t take a holiday because you have deadline after deadline after deadline, and you feel that at the end of the day, you go to bed and you haven’t been able to do any exercise for yourself. You haven’t been able to stop properly for lunch, so you ate something on the go. You had a packet of chippies out of the junk food box. And you go to bed and you’re kicking yourself because all day you’ve run around and dealt with other people’s problems.

And yet, some simple steps to make sure that you’re looking after yourself and handling your stress as best as possible. Simple things such as prioritising sleep, getting regular exercise. Turn those notifications off on your email, on your phone. Limiting any distractions so that during the time that you actually need to work, that you actually can manage to get that done without distractions. Working out what time of the day works best for you. We’ll talk about that in another article in the next couple of weeks.

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