For fresh graduates, getting in the big four firms have long been considered as one of the ideal places where everyone aims for. This is because there are significant benefits from working at a Big 4 Firm. For instance, every Big 4 firm offer superior training to staffs, networking opportunities with professionals across different industries, and possibility to be hired at one of the client companies. Hence, many young accountants and fresh graduates are willing to take on lower pay to work in these firms.
However, working in a Big 4 firm is never an easy task, especially during peak season from January to April.
Typically, an employee has to work ten to twelve hours a day during weekdays and weekends. Heavy work hours has greatly affected employees in maintaining work life balance and brought challenges to both employees and employers. The current study identifies the factors that could affect employees’ work life balance in one of the Big Four accounting firms – Deloitte Macau.
Both questionnaire surveys (n=30) and interviews (across two management level) have been conducted and reveal convergent outcomes. Recommendations have been provided to further improve the work-life balance in Deloitte Macau.
Introduction of Deloitte Macau Deloitte Macau is an accounting firm that provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to national, multinational and enterprise clients in Macau. The firm is a member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL), a UK private company limited by guarantee. Each DTTL firm is structured differently in accordance with national or local laws, regulations, customary practice, and other factors, and may secure the provision of provision of professional services in its territory through subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or other entities.
Currently, there are fifty-nine professionals working inside the company, ranging from junior (A1 and A2), senior, manager and senior manager. Besides, Employee may also have the opportunity to become partner, who receives a share in the profits of the company and have a say in management. Furthermore, The increase in pay is substantial. An audit partner at Deloitte reported an annual salary range of USD $387,000 to $416,000. However, it also means additional responsibilities for bringing in new business and managing employees.
Definition of Work-life balance The social structure and complexity has changed rapidly in the past decades, the society is facing massive confrontation of different responsibilities and commitments, these changes were formed as a result in increased global competition, renewed interest in personal lives and family values, aging workforce (Lockwood, 2003), as well as the blurring of work-non-work boundaries (Humbert and Lewis, 2008), work-life balance has become a predominant issue in the workplace.
Extensive researches have been conducted about work-life balance; however, the context of work-life balance is very broad and will have different meaning towards different situation and interpretation. Researchers gave different definition of work-life balance, Wise (2003) states that “work-life balance is about helping employees better manage their work and non-work time. ” According to Business dictionary, work-life balance is a comfortable state of equilibrium achieved between an employee’s primary priorities of their employment position and their private lifestyle. It is a stability of body or mind” (Guest, 2001). Thus, different people may have their “right” combination of paid work and other aspects of their lives.
Most psychologists would agree that the demands of an employee’s career should not overwhelm the individual’s ability to enjoy a satisfying personal life outside of the business environment. In this sense, balance is the result of collective actions, not an action in itself. Whereas researchers also define meaning of “life” in three senses, they define life as unpaid work obligations, leisure in general and ultimately anything that is not employment. Maclnnes, 2008). Focus among the different definition of work-life balance As work-life balance has such broad term of definition, its implication and application to real world situation as a result is comprehensive.
According to Lockwood (2003), the working definitions of terms used regarding work-life balance covering different aspects, including work-family, which refers to the work-life balance in specific areas such as quality of life, flexible work , option, life balance etc. ; work-family conflicts, which efers to the push and pull between work and family responsibilities; work-life balance from the employee viewpoint, which refers to the dilemma of managing work obligations and personal or family responsibilities; work-life balance from the employer viewpoint, which refers to the challenge of creating a supportive company culture where employees can focus on their job while at work; others such family-friendly benefits, work-life programs, work-life initiatives and work-family culture etc. ave been evolved as research areas of defining work-life balance.
In the current study, we are going to focus on work-life conflict from the employees’ viewpoint, to explore the problems they encounter and what they could do for managing work and non-work obligations. Objectives and methodology of the study
After focusing the definition of work-life balance for the study, we have set objectives in line with information collected from employees of Deloitte Macau to come up with several purposes: to find out the causes that led to employee’s non-work-life balance in the work context, to investigate ways that employer can do to tackle the causes for improving the situation, to observe how employees could do to prevent from getting imbalance between work and non-work context, and finally give out recommendation on application for tackling the problems from both employer and employee viewpoint.
Methodology of the study The study is conducted with a combination of pragmatism approach together with the support of literature review for inductive results. By using pragmatism approach, it is believed that causes that negatively affect the work life balance of employees of Deloitte Macau could be found out in a systematic and more comprehensive way, and with the identification of the causes, employer could help enhancing employee’s work-life balance with appropriate strategies. In this case, both questionnaire and interview were used as the research strategies for the appropriateness and applicableness of this paper.
Sampling and participants Questionnaires were distributed across the three operational departments of Deloitte Macau, the auditing department, compliance department and tax department for the freedom of choice staff made to complete the questionnaire. On the other hand, a manager from auditing department and an assistant manager who is in charge of supervising both tax and compliance department were selected to participate in this study. Data collection Primary data is collected from questionnaire and interview. As mentioned earlier, pragmatism and inductive approach was used for the research methodology.
Both questionnaire and interviews were applied for data collection tool. Target participants of questionnaires were employees from junior to middle management level across the three operational department of Deloitte Macau. The questionnaire sampling was based on the random sampling approach while interview with mangers belongs to purposive sampling. Interpretation of data received will be outlined and elaborated in the findings session. Findings From Questionnaire A survey was carried out from 6th Feb to 9th March 2013 by asking Deloitte audit, tax and compliance staffs to fill a questionnaire.
The aim of the survey is to evaluate the work and non-work balance of the staffs and find out the causes of this imbalance. A total 31 questionnaires (sample size) were completed among total 59 staffs (population size). In order to have a better understanding of the causes that lead to imbalance work and non-work life, literature review is carried out in advance and we find that the causes are mainly: <1>Technology boom <2> Lacking appropriate skill <3> Overtime and limiting budget <4> Multi-tasking. Thus, we also set them as the choices in our questionnaire (question 13 in Appendix A) for asking the causes.