After the challenges of 2020 and subsequent changes in 2021, many accounting and finance professionals are experiencing more stress than usual. These professionals went into overdrive to help their organisations survive the financial anxiety of the pandemic, and went beyond their limits to provide all they could for company leaders.
Combine that with the personal stress, like suddenly managing childcare or eldercare responsibilities, e-learning, or personal health and safety concerns, and the burdens of the pandemic can feel unmanageable. Compound stress like this can often lead to feeling burned out, which can oftentimes lead to job dissatisfaction. After such a stressful time, many finance and accounting professionals may be looking for a change.
As we sit in a thriving jobs market with a demand for accounting and finance talent, it’s tempting for professionals to toss in the towel at their current job and leave for another opportunity.
However, especially coming out of a period like the past year and a half, it’s crucial to truly consider the reasons for leaving and whether their current position is worth the commitment.
Accounting and finance processionals should consider the following actions before quitting.
Before even starting to look for another opportunity, professionals should first reflect on the following questions:
Do you stand behind the company’s mission? Job satisfaction can stem from being proud to stand behind what the company stands for. Disagreeing with the company mission may be a good indicator that personal goals and the organisation's mission are misaligned and may not be compatible, which can be a sign that it is time to move on.
Do you like your teammates? Reflect on whether co-workers make the role worthwhile. Statistics show that employee job satisfaction goes up 50% when employees have close relationships with their peers. Despite working from home, employees spend a lot of time with co-workers virtually, making it vital to have a good relationship and level of respect for one another.
Do you have a strong relationship with your manager? An uneasy relationship with a manager can chip away at employees' organisational engagement, confidence in their roles, and dedication. If they're feeling a lack of communication, little connection, or negativity from their manager, that alone can warrant a job change.
Is the work enjoyable? It's crucial for any professional to enjoy the work that directs their day-to-day responsibilities. Getting trapped in the wrong job function can dim an employee's perspective not only on a career but potentially on life. They should consider if they find it exciting and empowering to take on new projects with new challenges and responsibilities.
After reflecting on these questions, it should be clearer on whether to stay or leave a position based on the connection to the company, manager, and role. If the decision is to stay, here are ways to improve job satisfaction.
Own career development
Often, people want to quit their current job when they're unsuccessful in the role. Learning new skills and putting effort into career development can offer a new sense of purpose in an accounting or finance professional's role, ultimately boosting value.
Taking the initiative to learn more and grow a skillset can help find success in a position and improve job satisfaction. We also encourage talent to continue investing in their development by seeking additional certifications or skills training not only to remain a competitive professional, but because it can also improve their work's efficacy and help them achieve career growth and fulfilment.
Another way to invest in career development is by joining professional organisations not only to connect with and learn from other professionals in the industry but also because these organisations and associations also provide access to webinars, networking events, and more.
Talk to a manager
Accounting and finance professionals should not be afraid to speak up, because if they're feeling disengaged, their manager has probably already noticed. Being proactive and talking about it with their manager is a great way for employees to show initiative.
Before scheduling the meeting with their manager, professionals should first write down a list of what in their role is most frustrating or daunting and causing unhappiness, as well as proposed solutions. Do not meet with a manager with a laundry list of complaints and no action plan to reengage in the role.
Think about what is missing in the position. Is there something specific that would make the role more enjoyable? For instance, after working on long projects, like budgets or forecasts, turning to a different project can offer a new and exciting aspect to the position.
Another idea is working cross-functionally to help revitalise the role and spark engagement. Employees have the opportunity to use their skills in new ways, which can give them new and interesting challenges. The opportunity to partner with other leaders and other teams can give them the opportunity to build new work relationships, which can also increase their overall satisfaction.
Focus on building interpersonal relationships
Strong working relationships and friendships can help any accounting or finance professionals enjoy their role that much more. Rough patches and career troubles happen for almost every professional, and work friendships can help navigate these problems and increase overall job satisfaction.
Research shows that employees who are close to their co-workers are happier at work, more engaged, better with clients, and do better work..
While any new hire is first focused on learning the job function and succeeding, as they become more established in the role, it is important to spend time connecting with colleagues. Happy hours, team lunches, and internal networking events are all great opportunities to meet and connect with others in the organisation. Interpersonal relationships at work can help accountants and finance professionals bring more value to other teams and overall improve their satisfaction in their role.
Stay or go?
After reflecting, trying new career development tactics, talking to a manager, and focusing on building relationships, it could be that the role still does not seem like the fit. Whatever the reasons are for wanting to leave, it is crucial to fully understand what influences the decision, weigh the pros and cons, and go out on professional terms with colleagues.
If all the steps necessary are taken and revive the relationship with the job, remember to keep these tips and habits consistent. No matter how the role changes throughout an accounting or finance career, seeking ways to improve an attitude and outlook will keep career progression steady and on track.
— Kevin Roeder is vice president, Recruiting at LaSalle Network, a staffing, recruiting, and culture firm based in Chicago that specialises in accounting and finance recruiting. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek, an FM magazine senior editor, at Andrew.Adamek@aicpa-cima.com.