Accountants are known for working ridiculously long hours. A CPA named Marty McCutchen, however, found that improving workflow actually improves work/life balance.
McCutchen told a familiar tale of life in a successful firm:
Public accounting — a place where chargeable hours were king and working on Saturdays was a badge of honor. Why in the world would we want to complete our tasks faster and then have to explain why we missed our charge hour goal for the month? A young staff that answers that question with, “I guess I am more efficient with my time than my colleagues,” does not find much traction in the world of a tax and accounting firm.
The author goes on to explain that the overarching problem in his field is the obsession with billable hours. When professional services companies chargeby the hour, they effectively encourage employees to work more hours. After all, the more hours you can bill, the more money you can make.
McCutchen’s answer was to charge for services instead of time; however as we here at AccelaWork noted when we first covered this topic while researching business improvement solutions, the real issue is the old problem of confusing activity with progress. Employees might receive a salary for working, but customers prefer to pay only for results.
It’s not always possible to bill your clients based solely on actual work product, and although companies like Best Buy have bravely pursued a results-oriented work environment, it’s not always practical to compensate employees for their output alone. Therefore, every organization that struggles with work/life balance should evaluate the impact of their business services model on the work patterns of employees. Companies can design their pricing and their promises in a way that respects their workers. To learn more about how good workflow can improve work/life balance, our business process consultants us today.