IPA ups focus on ‘social impact’ of accountants

The Institute of Public Accountants is looking to ramp up its research into the impact accountants have on the mental health of their SME clients, which it anticipates will boost its advocacy efforts with government.

The IPA’s chief executive officer Andrew Conway said the association is now looking to analyse and assess the impact the work of an accountant can have on the wellbeing of their SME clients.

This works in line with the IPA’s distinct focus, and prior research, on Australian small businesses.

“I want to do some specific research in relation to not just the mental health of small business owners, but the impact of engaging a professional and qualified person. In this case, with a public accountant, the impact they might have on the mental health and wellbeing of small business owners,” Mr Conway said.

“If we can do that, that might help provide some really good context to our advocacy efforts,” he said.

The minute an accountant says to [a client] ‘I’ve got this, just relax, I’ll take care of it’, you have no idea the impact that has on that small business owner. So we don’t spend enough time looking at the real human interaction that the profession has,” he added.

This news comes as research again suggests the stress levels of professionals and business owners is on the rise in Australia.

Last week, Robert Half released the results of its latest research, revealing that 76 per cent of Australian CFOs believe the stress levels of their staff will increase over the next three years.

Forty-eight per cent indicated that they think the level of increase will be significant.

Respondents indicated the key causes for rising stress levels, with 61 per cent pointing to increased workloads, 52 per cent pointing to increased business expectations, 37 per cent pointing to shorter deadlines and 26 per cent pointing to lack of staff.

“Higher workloads and shorter deadlines are key contributors to workplace stress, particularly for finance staff around end of financial year,” said Nicole Gorton, director at Robert Half Australia.

“While Australians are world-renowned for their relaxed attitude and well-developed work/life balance, CFOs and their teams are under pressure to meet increased business expectations, produce more results, in some cases with fewer resources, so it isn’t surprising this can cause added stress for finance professionals.”

In an effort to combat rising stress levels, 94 per cent of CFOs are taking measures to reduce stress in the workspace.

Sixty-four per cent are redesigning the office space to facilitate better productivity and promote a more efficient working environment, while 55 per cent are encouraging staff to give regular feedback to management and 41 per cent are offering flexible working hours or remote working opportunities.

“Reducing workplace stress is a key business priority for Australian companies who are increasingly implementing a combination of measures, from applying changes to their infrastructure, amending their staff policies to even adjusting their corporate culture,” Ms Gorton said.

“Measures such as changing workspaces, hiring contract or temporary professionals or establishing open lines of communication to develop an inclusive workplace are all examples of this encompassing approach.”

 

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