Our Blog

Accounting work/life balance: 10 ways to put it at the heart of your accounting firm

accounting work life balance
By Drazen Vujovic. Last Updated February 2, 2024

Accounting can sometimes be a stressful industry. 

A recent survey from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) found that 58% of public sector accountants reported stress and mental health concerns. It can be hard for some professional advisers to relax and de-stress. 

So, prioritizing a good work/life balance is vital for your well-being. 

If you and your practice team are happy, relaxed and not overworked, you’ll deliver better advice to clients. And you’ll also enjoy your work far more. But in the pressurized environment of a busy accounting practice, how do you support that positive work/life balance?

Sit back, relax and take in these 10 simple ways to power a more relaxed accounting firm.

1. Set clear work hours and don’t burn the midnight oil

off work hours

In some firms, working past midnight on an important project was (wrongly) seen as a badge of honour. But when you and your team work deep into the night, that’s not a recipe for success. 

Tired, overworked team members make mistakes and stupid errors – and that’s probably not how you want to run any engagement, right?

There’s real value to setting clear working hours, so the whole team can clock off at an allotted time. Then you can come back tomorrow refreshed, engaged and without the need for three short blacks from the local coffee bar to get you started. 

Maintaining employee job satisfaction demands a better approach. To keep your team refreshed and productive:

  • Set out your accepted working hours clearly for all staff, of all grades
  • Make sure new hires are told these hours when they’re onboarded
  • Tell people when it’s time to go home, and don’t let staff pull any all-nighters.

2. Make sure to take regular breaks to rest

break time

Many studies have shown that the human mind focuses best when working in periods of 90 minutes. So, it’s not a good idea to work flat out through the day, without taking proper breaks. 

When your concentration slips, you’re more likely to make mistakes on complex pieces of client work, or miss out on important observations when reviewing a client file. And that has the potential to lead to a truckload of problems further down the line — especially during busy season.

Make sure you and your team take regular breaks throughout the working day. Give yourself a rest, whether it’s a quick chat at the water cooler, or a stroll to the local sandwich shop. And make sure to stay active, hydrated and well-fed. You’ll feel better for it.

To keep you refreshed and on the ball:

  • Get into the habit of taking breaks throughout the day
  • Always make sure you take a lunch hour to eat and depressurise
  • Diarise these breaks, so you don’t find yourself getting caught up in meetings.

3. Socialise and have fun with the team

team building

The old ‘we work hard and we play hard’ maxim is a cliche. But if you only focus on work, that’s going to make for a pretty dull work environment for your practice staff. 

Keeping your people happy and energised is important, so there’s a balance to be found between getting the work done and also finding the time to relax, socialise and bond as a team.

Many firm owners arrange after-work drinks or snacks with the team and get proactive about socializing together. It’s a great way to crack open a beer or a juice and to have a good yabber about the day. 

What’s going well? Which clients have been causing aggro? How are things going with family, hobbies and life in general. It’s a great chance to unwind and get to know each other. 

To put the fun back into your practice team life:

  • Schedule a regular social event at least once a month
  • Keep things informal and let the team mingle and relax
  • Chat, socialize and play to find those team connections.

4. Get involved with your local community and charities

helping the local community

It’s extremely rewarding to get your firm involved with helping the local community. As a business, there’s real merit to doing something charitable. 

It’s not just about doing something wholesome and good for these deserving charities or social enterprises. There’s also an opportunity to raise awareness of your brand, your people and your values as a firm. 

Giving something back is a good way to engage with the firm’s community and do something special for the community around you. It also helps everyone involved to maintain a healthy work/life balance. 

Maybe your team could go on a working bee to help clear up the local park? Or you could run a charity event to raise money for good causes. You get to do something positive AND get to turn off the old work brain for a day. 

To become a pillar of your local community:

  • Nominate a charity to support each year and get involved in their work
  • Run volunteer days where your team can lend a hand with community projects
  • Sponsor charities and social enterprises to raise your profile and boost your corporate social responsibility (CSR) credentials.

5. Get sporty and dive into some friendly competition

playing sports

Sports and games are a great way to build some team spirit while kicking a ball around, or getting competitive with other local firms and businesses – just try not to maim the senior partner when going in for a tough tackle!

Not everyone will be a sports nut, but the sports-loving members of the firm will love a bit of friendly competition. You could get involved in a local footy league, try your hand at cricket or dive into a bit of swimming. 

Anything that gets you and the team active and away from the office is a good idea. 

And, who knows, you might win a trophy!

To raise the sporting stakes at the firm:

  • Get involved in local sports leagues as a company team
  • Have friendly games against the local accounting competitors
  • Cater to those who are less fit or able-bodied with other games and competitions.

6. Run client events to socialize and build your network

organizing events

Connecting with your clients is a great way to boost those all-important client relationships. 

As an adviser, you want to do as much as possible to offer helpful ideas and insights. Running client seminars and events takes you away from the usual practice work and puts you in front of a room of eager, engaged business people. 

It’s an opportunity to offer advice, but also to get to know these clients more closely. Have a chat, eat a slider (or five) and find out what makes your clients tick. 

Yes, AI is transforming the way the basics of accounting are managed in 2023. But having that face-to-face time with your clients is still a top way to relax while also expanding your client relationships.

To help chill out with your clients:

  • Run regular monthly or quarterly client seminars around different business topics
  • Make sure there’s time for food, drinks and a bit of a natter after the presentation
  • Allow yourself to relax and open up to your clients – it’s one of the best ways to build trust and connections with these people.

7. Check in with your people on a regular basis

one on one with an employee

It’s OK to not be OK. But do you really know how your people are coping? 

Are you on the ball with how well your practice employees are dealing with the pressures of their workload and targets? And does the firm have a culture that promotes talking about mental health?

Checking in with your practice staff is important and an opportunity to find out if they’re facing any challenges. Are they coping alright with the workload? Are they feeling stressed about anything? Is their family life all OK? 

If you don’t ask, you don’t know, so regular informal catch-ups are a vital way of opening up the conversation.

To be more supportive for your team:

  • Operate an ‘open door’ policy where your team can come to you with any problems
  • Schedule regular catch-ups for employees to talk, give feedback and ask for help
  • As much as possible, aim to have an open culture that supports team wellbeing.

8. Offer time off as part of your employee benefits package

on vacation

However much you love your job, there’s always value to having a day off. Time off might be needed to manage other life responsibilities, to take care of a family member or loved one, or just to ease off the pedal a little and to focus on your mental wellbeing. 

Offering staff free ‘doona days’ as part of their standard benefits package is becoming increasingly popular. If an employee is having a bad mental health day, taking this day off to rest and recover can be a life-saver. 

It’s also good to offer personal time within the working day for meditation, relaxation and other de-stressing activities — it can drastically improve job performance.

To make your benefits package more attractive:

  • Include a certain number of doona days that can be used throughout the year
  • Offer a generous amount of holiday days and ensure these can be taken flexibly
  • Offer extra days off for long service, great work or when staff want to volunteer in the community or carry out charitable work.

9. Be organized and make tech your friend

Keeping on top of all the touch points, documents and data involved in a client engagement can be a frustrating job. There are so many threads of information to pull together, and it can be a headache to find the exact document or data point you need. 

Make your data collection, filing and storage of important information organised and it will be far easier to locate the info you need – removing a heap of stress from managing the engagement.

Using cloud-based collaboration, data collection and storage solutions makes it easier for accounting professionals to stay organised. Put all the client information in one place and access it with a press of a button. 

To reduce the stress of searching for client information:

  • Sign up for a free trial of Content Snare and make it easy to get information from clients
  • Send clients one request for all information, so they can work through item by item
  • Upload and store all the info you need in one central location in the cloud.

10. Make the most of practice automation, wherever you can

using process automation

So much of a busy accounting firm’s work is driven by process and admin tasks. With the latest breed of practice software solutions and apps, there are tonnes of opportunities to automate some of the more time-consuming tasks and admin duties. 

In a nutshell, ramping up your use of automation is one the simplest ways to ease the workload and take your foot off the accelerator.

You can automate your client’s bookkeeping, the collection of client documents and even the invoicing and payment of your practice fees. With less admin tasks to complete, your team can get more done. And that free time offers more ways to rebalance their working day.

It’s a shortcut to a better work/life balance.

To lighten your workload and reduce your stress:

  • Review every process in the firm and see which areas could easily be automated
  • Look for the best tools to add to your tech stack and maximize your use of automation
  • Help your team free up time, relax a little and focus on tasks they actually enjoy

Content Snare: Taking the stress out of document collection

Running an accounting firm is such a rewarding experience for many advisers. But it’s crucial to look after the welfare and wellbeing of yourself, your partners and your practice team. A happy team isn’t just a more productive team. When everyone in the practice feels engaged and relaxed that’s good for your culture, your staff retention and the future of the firm.

Keep that work/life balance in mind, and use every hack available to support your wellbeing. 

At Content Snare, we aim to offer the easiest, most stress-free way to collect your clients’ documents. Instead of causing tempers to rise through frustrations and constant chasing of unresponsive clients, we make it easy as pie to get the info you need. 

With Content Snare in your practice app stack, you get:

  • A simple and easy way to request content and documents from your clients
  • Straightforward content collection that works, without all the back and forth
  • No more emails, messy hacked-together systems and confusing shared docs. 

Don’t get stressed out about missing content. Use Content Snare to collect and save all your client documents in one place – and watch your stress levels drop!
Try Content Snare for 14 days and add some relaxation to your content collection.


Drazen Vujovic

Dražen Vujović is a journalist and content writer. More importantly, he is a father of two and a long-distance runner.