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The Deep Divide: Accountants want to contribute toward the society. Modern life has other plans.

18 Oct 2019  |  
Tags: Outsourcing Social
Businesses for good

Whether its politicians, non-profit corporations or Greta Thunberg herself – sources advocating for change are flooding in through our phones, TVs and radios. None of our newsfeeds go without an occasional post about the current state of the climate strike or a PETA-sponsored ‘How to’ guide on the steps to go vegan. Needless to say, the current affairs have triggered a sense of social responsibility on everybody alike; including accountants.

In the summer of 2019, when QXAS teamed up with British business author and practice strategist, Steve Pipe to culminate an original research on the ‘State of the Accounting Profession’ – it proved how accountants are not immune to the strides for ‘making a difference’ through their actions and lifestyles. Download the report here.

A majority of 55 percent accountants surveyed said that ‘doing some good in the world’ was important to them – ranking right alongside the factors of social mobility and self-worth like earning good money; work-life balance and making a difference to clients.

Clearly, despite all the dysfunctions in the accounting profession such as Brexit; MTD and an impending automation-world, accountants aren’t oblivious to the looming, most-discussed existential threat of our times – the current, toxic warming of the planet.

The Disconnect: Between Accountants and their Firms

There is a sense of urgency to make things better within the accounting community. Yet an obsession with overwork overpowers the profession leaving no time for the accountants to follow vital human activities like sleeping well; let alone civic duties.

The report explains why. There is a stark disconnect between what staff want and what they think their accounting firm employers want. Only 19% of accounting staff believe that the firm they work for also want to have a positive effect on the world.

One of the reasons for this disconnect could be the cult of overwork that has traditionally persisted in the accounting industry. For accountants, work is ubiquitous and dominant. To make matters worse, London is riddled with “workaholicism” with firms offering free food and ping-pong tables that encourage people to stay at the office and pull some late-nighters.

There is an imminent need for firms to re-examine the culture that they are promoting – whether it is productive or just as a shtick to show off corporate statuses through epic work schedules.

However, besides culture there may also be a need to re-organise how work flows.

Work, at the moment, is badly distributed. Accountants have either too much, or too little or both in the same month. And away from our all-consuming workplaces, there is no boundary between our time off and on. Digital technology lets work invade leisure even outside work, leaving no time for accountants to tune into discussions about their causes over dinner or leisure time.

The Cultural Shift

The disconnect has deep roots in our current workforce composition. Millennials show a strong philanthropic streak. Today, they are filling up offices faster than ever, replacing the retiring workforce of the baby boomers. The nuanced culture ‘to do something for the greater good’ could be a direct consequence of the millennial shift in the workforce.

Every generation is shaped by their circumstances and for the increasingly growing millennial workforce, priorities have evolved. According to the Deloitte 2019 Millennial survey, 47% of millennials in the workforce want to make positive impacts on community. The bottom line for accountancy practices is that, in order to hold on to a staff majorly composed of millennials, they must share this this sense of responsibility that is important to them.

How to Bridge the Divide?

It is simple – by giving. There is a sense of altruism in today’s workforce and most companies should look at it as an opportunity to inspire call to action to soothe the ills of society in distress and move toward equality.

Recent research by leading academics, Nielsen, Cone and Havas categorised benefits of the business behaviour, that can be collectively labelled as “doing good.” Some of these benefits include :

  • Faster growth – Businesses doing good for the society grow four times faster than the rest.
  • Competitive advantage – 89% of people are likely to switch from a business that isn’t contributing toward the betterment of the society to one that is.
  • Improved loyalty – 88% of customers are more loyal to businesses doing good.
  • Word of mouth advertising – 81% will tell others about businesses doing good.
  • Higher prices – 66% of people are willing to pay more for products and services from businesses doing good.
  • Higher productivity – One study found that salesmen make 143% more sales when working for a business doing good.
  • Future proofing – 79% of consumers expect businesses to do more good in the future than the past.
  • Millennial appeal – 47% of millennials in the workforce want to make positive impacts on community/society

For firms, a good place to start would be by staffing adequately and automating the mundane bookkeeping tasks – to free up the time for accountants to pursue their positive causes. Using the right offshore outsourcing provider that also supports a cause, like QXAS, can help kill both birds with one stone – firms get trained, experienced staff to handle non-core office functions while positioning themselves as a ‘business for good.’

Accountants are burnt out but they are still willing to be proactive about their civic duties. Beyond the workplace, we live in an age when society itself seems to be burning out, with the overuse of environmental resources; with poverty and uncertainties caused by Brexit, pushing people beyond their limits. It’s time that accountancy firms realised that round-the-clock-work is not freedom. Freedom is getting enough colleagues to share work with and being digitally equipped to save time on mundane, repetitive work. Freedom in today’s world is the time to make a difference to each other’s lives.

 Want to get started? Download our research report titled ‘The Really Bad News for Accountancy Practices and What to do About it’ and support our cause to tackle the UN Global Goals: Every time you reach out to QXAS, we will, on your behalf, reach out to a vulnerable young girl in Cambodia and enable them for a better future– in the following ways:

  • A filter to make her water safe
  • Enough seeds to grow vegetables and keep her belly full
  • A pushbike for her to get to school

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About Rishmita Aich

My name is Rishmita and I’m an aspiring journalist and blogger. I love telling stories – of people and brands. When I’m not too busy typing out incessantly on the computer, you’ll find me reading some old American classics or petting some furry stray cats.