Like many other industries, financial services faces a significant talent gap, with more than 300,000 accountants and auditors leaving their jobs in the past two years. This exodus can be attributed not just to retirement but work environments that hinder employee engagement and satisfaction. For instance, CPAs can often work 70 to 80 grueling hours per week, especially before tax and audit deadlines. Entry-level associates also shared that repetitive tasks such as balancing cash sheets can often leave them dissatisfied with accounting work. This technical, desk-based office work in accounting can signify a rise in sedentary behaviors among CPAs.
Sedentary behavior can significantly decrease energy expenditure and lead to weight gain. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing chronic conditions like cancer, stroke and heart disease. Prolonged periods of sitting can also contribute to musculoskeletal disorders like muscle tightness, lower back pain, stiffness and swelling. This can affect health and wellness among CPAs, necessitating the need to encourage the following practices for staff:
- Have regular eye exams. There’s no going back to manual, labor-intensive accounting, as the digital transformation is here to stay. This means that most accountants will spend the majority of their time looking at a computer screen, which, over time, can lead to the development of issues like eye strain. To counter this, CPAs can prioritize eye care by getting an eye exam and consulting with an optometrist for regular monitoring and the early detection of possible eye conditions.
- Use ergonomic furniture. Musculoskeletal disorders like joint pain can be remedied by introducing ergonomics into the work environment. A prime example of this is using an ergonomic chair designed with adjustable back support, armrests and seat height to reduce fatigue and discomfort while sitting. This means CPAs remain comfortable and focused throughout their shifts, whether they’re reviewing financial statements or preparing tax returns. Ergonomic chairs come in various materials, styles and price points, with leading brands like Topstar and Herman Miller offered by major retail stores like Walmart.
- Offer flexible work arrangements. Employers in the financial services industry can also make an effort and contribute to employee health and wellness by introducing flexible work arrangements. Demands for flexibility are no longer seen as a workplace benefit but are now a crucial part of recruitment and retention strategies. As flexible work models allow CPAs to manage their time better, not only do they become more efficient and productive, but they can also prioritize sleep, exercise and healthy eating for improved well-being.
Ultimately, the changing nature of accounting work should compel employers and employees alike to reflect on their lifestyles and find ways to adopt healthier habits.