Accounting firms urged to bolster mental health strategies
The accounting industry must do more regarding mental health, with research indicating most firms are not well equipped to deal with the mental health of their employees, according to Beyond Blue.
Speaking to SMSF Adviser, Beyond Blue's head of workplace research and resource development, Nick Arvanitis, said public accountants are generally going to be dealing with clients and the public, which can offset certain stressors.
“Generally speaking, consumers are becoming more empowered – we know that’s happening and it’s important for employers to recognise that is a potential stressor for individuals working in client-facing roles,” said Mr Arvanitis.
It is vital employers consider what measures they could introduce within the workplace to offset that stressor because it is not something that’s going to change, he added.
“Part of that is making sure that if there are things an accountant is struggling with, they’re aware of the various support that is available to them,” he said.
“It’s also doing things like providing a bit more flexibility. In terms of working hours, it might be that as an employer you say, ‘If you’ve had a demanding interaction with a client, I’m very happy for you to take five or 10 minutes to go for a walk or chat to a colleague just to reflect on the scenario’.”
Mr Arvanitis said that based on a 2011 Annual Business and Professions Study, accountants scored below the average in the rating they gave for how well equipped the organisations they worked for were in dealing with mental health in the workplace.
Accounting organisations scored 2.4, while the average was 2.6, based on the findings of the study.
Accountants were also least likely to have undertaken training in dealing with mental illness in the workplace at 11.3 per cent, compared with the sample average of 17.5 per cent.
“These are indicators that perhaps, relatively speaking, there’s not the confidence or the skills to be able to manage a lot of these workplace mental health issues in the accountancy profession,” said Mr Arvanitis.
Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.
Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.