Hitchcock, Wesley R

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  • Publication
    Auditor Strong: A C.P.A. Plan for Resilience; How Character Strengths, Purpose, and Adapting to Stress Can Help Public Accountants Survive and Thrive
    (2021-08-01) Hitchcock, Wesley R
    Chronic stress and burnout affect many professionals from physicians to lawyers to educators; one group that is also impacted but underexplored is accountants. These professionals, and particularly auditors, experience unique challenges, such as lengthy busy seasons, periodic surprise inspections, disconnect from the beneficiary of their service, and a lack of meaning. This paper reviews the literature on antecedents of burnout in public accountants and efficacious interventions from positive psychology that may be useful with this population. Literature reveals that identifying and using one’s character strengths, connecting with one’s purpose and the meaning of their work, and cultivating skills to adapt to stress (i.e. resilience skills) are effective ways to increase protective factors associated with resilience. Synthesizing this literature, this paper proposes these three pathways to resilience be combined into a “C.P.A. Plan.” The paper proposes sixteen practical interventions that those interested in increasing their colleagues’ (and their) well-being, or “well-being ambassadors”, can use to increase resilience. One contribution of this paper is adding to the lack of literature on auditor resilience. A broader contribution is calling for a mindset shift in public accounting from habitually identifying what's wrong to leveraging what's strong. Finally, it provides a new value proposition for firms wishing to attract and retain talent.