Having read “ The Work/Life Balance Sheet So Far ” ( JofA , Aug.06, page 45), I am not surprised that success of these initiatives is lacking. I certainly agree that the failure of the leadership of any firm to support these programs is a key component in preventing widespread success. However, I wonder whether the profession has really addressed the issues that drive people out in the first place.
I noted in the article that one CPA arranged a flexible work schedule that ultimately wound up with work being done at home after the children had gone to bed. How is this a “work/life balance” if we are simply moving our work from the office to the home? The article said that people entering the workforce today are opposed to promotions if the requirements are longer hours or more work being brought home.
I have to wonder whether the profession is simply “dressing up” the same stigmas and slicing the pie in a different manner. As one who has worked in the accounting profession, work/life balance means that I am free to cultivate real relationships with my family, work on a hobby, pursue a graduate degree in something other than accounting or perform civic or church work that is meaningful to me. Work/career has its proper place and time, but the three initials after my name are not the be-all and end-all of my existence.
While we can do little with respect to the deadlines imposed by the IRS that so consume our lives from January 1 to April 15, I have never heard anyone ask whether there is a better way to manage the work flow. Is it really necessary to work 60 to 80 hours a week and every Saturday for four months?
Certainly there have to be viable options. This is where I believe the true solution to the work/life balance issue begins. We must challenge our status quo and antiquated mentality and find creative ways to give our people a real sense of balance.
Widespread success will not happen until we decide to make it happen. It may take the next generation of leadership in our profession to make any real progress, but we must start somewhere.
Jeff Porter, CPA