How the Burnout Crisis is Leading to Talent Shortages in Accounting

As the burnout continues to affect employees across industries, one of the major challenges in the accounting industry is talent shortages. The growing demands and pressures in this field have resulted in high turnover rates and difficulty in finding qualified candidates for open positions.

Recent Avalara research indicates that 84% of surveyed CFOs in the United States and United Kingdom are facing a significant talent shortage within their accounting and finance teams. Among them, 47% believe that employee burnout due to long hours and menial tasks, as well as professionals changing careers, are notable factors contributing to the diminishing talent pool.

Therefore, burnout has emerged as a significant issue in the accounting profession, playing a key role in the talent shortage.

Burnout Crisis in Accounting

As accountants work long hours and face high levels of stress, especially during intensive periods like financial closes, the likelihood of experiencing burnout at some point in their career is high. Burnout is characterized by emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion resulting from chronic stress.

The accounting profession has been confronting a burnout crisis for several years. Long hours, tight deadlines, and heavy workloads have become the norm. These factors contribute to high levels of stress, fatigue, and overall dissatisfaction among professionals.

Furthermore, technological advancements and changes within the industry have added to the stress levels of accountants. Constantly having to adapt to new software and stay abreast of regulatory changes can exacerbate an already demanding workload.

Most Common Causes of Burnout in Accounting

  • High workload: The demanding nature of accounting, characterized by tight deadlines and a high volume of tasks, often leads to burnout. This is particularly true during peak periods, such as tax season.
  • Long working hours: To meet these deadlines, accountants frequently work extended hours, sacrificing personal time and leading to a poor work-life balance. Feeling overworked and overwhelmed, employees may experience burnout.
  • Lack of control: Many accountants have little say over their workload or the tasks they are assigned. This lack of autonomy can foster feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction, contributing to burnout.
  • Monotonous tasks: The repetitive aspects of accounting work, such as data entry and number crunching, can become mentally exhausting over time, leading to burnout.
  • High-pressure environment: The accounting field involves high financial stakes, compelling employees to strive for perfection at all times. This pressure can heighten anxiety and contribute to burnout.

As a result, burnout is causing significant consequences for the accounting industry, including:

High employee turnover rates

Burnout often leads to employees feeling overwhelmed and unfulfilled, prompting them to seek new job opportunities. This not only incurs high costs for organizations due to the need for constant recruitment and training but also leads to workforce gaps and talent shortages.

Talent shortages

The accounting industry faces a growing shortage of talent as high turnover rates deter skilled professionals from entering or staying in the field. The industry’s reputation for being mundane and high-stress further discourages new talent. Companies must actively work to counteract this by promoting a healthy work-life balance through flexible working hours, regular breaks, and a supportive work culture.

Decreased productivity

Burnout drastically reduces productivity, with physically and mentally exhausted employees struggling to meet deadlines and maintain quality. In an industry that relies on precision and timeliness, this can severely impact overall productivity.

Negative impact on mental health

The continuous stress and pressure associated with accounting can lead to serious mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. It’s imperative for companies to prioritize employee mental health by providing adequate support and resources to manage and prevent burnout.

How To Recognize Signs of Burnout in Your Finance Team

Burnout can manifest in various ways, and it’s important to be vigilant. Finance professionals may exhibit burnout through several indicators, some of which may not be immediately obvious. Here are the key signs to watch for:

  • Chronic fatigue: Common signs of burnout include feeling tired even after resting, lacking energy, and feeling drained.
  • Increased cynicism: Increased cynicism or negative attitudes towards clients, colleagues, or the organization can be a red flag. A once passionate employee becoming increasingly pessimistic is concerning.
  • Detachment and isolation: A team member experiencing burnout may start to isolate themselves from colleagues and participate less in meetings or team activities.
  • Decline in performance: A sudden or gradual decline in work performance, characterized by increased errors, missed deadlines, or a drop in productivity, should be closely monitored.
  • Physical symptoms: Chronic stress can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach issues, or muscle pain. Frequent illnesses may also indicate that the body is weakened from stress.
  • Emotional exhaustion: Signs of emotional exhaustion can include a lack of enthusiasm for work, feeling overwhelmed by tasks, or a sense of disillusionment with one’s career.

Strategies to Prevent Burnout and Retain Top Talent

For accountants, preventing or addressing burnout is to practice self-care. This includes taking breaks throughout the day, setting boundaries with work hours and workload, and finding ways to relax and recharge outside of work. Talking to a colleague or seeking support from a mental health professional can also be beneficial.

However, the primary responsibility lies with employers. They should prioritize creating a healthy work-life balance for their employees. To address the issue of burnout in the accounting industry, organizations need to take proactive measures to prevent it. Here are some strategies that can help prevent burnout and retain top talent:

  1. Promote a healthy work-life balance: Organizations should prioritize promoting a healthy work-life balance for their employees. This can include implementing flexible working hours, providing opportunities for remote work, and encouraging employees to take breaks and vacations.
  2. Offer support and resources: Employers should provide resources such as counseling services or employee assistance programs to support their employees’ mental health. Additionally, offering training and development opportunities can help employees feel supported and motivated in their roles.
  3. Encourage open communication: It’s important for organizations to foster an environment of open communication where employees feel comfortable discussing their workload, stress levels, and any concerns they may have. This can help identify potential burnout cases early on and address them before they escalate.
  4. Consider technological solutions: With advancements in technology, organizations can leverage tools and software to automate mundane tasks and reduce the workload for their employees. This can help alleviate stress and allow accountants to focus on more high-value tasks.

How Technology Can Help Prevent Burnout in Accounting

Technology has played a pivotal role in transforming the accounting industry. With an increasing demand for more efficient and accurate processes, technology has become essential in helping accountants manage their workload and prevent burnout. Here’s a closer look at how technology can aid in preventing burnout in accounting:

Automation of mundane tasks

Various software programs and tools are available to automate manual tasks, such as data entry, bank reconciliation, and report generation. This not only expedites processes but also minimizes the potential for human error, freeing accountants to focus on more complex and engaging tasks.

Real-time data access

Cloud-based accounting software enables accountants to access financial data in real time from any location. This flexibility eliminates the need to be physically present in the office or work overtime, promoting a better work-life balance.

Collaboration and communication

Technology has simplified the way team members collaborate and communicate, even in remote work settings. This enhancement can reduce feelings of isolation and foster a sense of teamwork, contributing to a more positive and supportive work environment.

Data analytics and forecasting

Advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, assist accountants in analyzing data and predicting trends. This capability facilitates more effective planning and workload management, which can be crucial in preventing burnout.


In conclusion, recognizing the signs of burnout in your finance team and taking proactive measures to prevent it is crucial for maintaining a healthy and productive workplace. Employers should prioritize promoting a healthy work-life balance, providing support and resources, encouraging open communication, and leveraging technology to prevent burnout in the accounting industry. By taking these steps, organizations can not only retain top talent but also ensure employee well-being and satisfaction. As for accountants, it’s important to practice self-care and seek support when needed to prevent burnout and maintain a fulfilling career in finance. So, it is essential for both employers and employees to work together in creating a supportive and balanced work environment to prevent burnout and retain top talent in the accounting industry.

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