Academic journal article Accounting & Taxation

Flexible Working Arrangement and Stress Management Training in Mitigating Auditor's Burnout: An Experimental Study

Academic journal article Accounting & Taxation

Flexible Working Arrangement and Stress Management Training in Mitigating Auditor's Burnout: An Experimental Study

Article excerpt


This study examines the effectiveness of two burnout mitigation strategies (flexible work arrangement and stress management training) on auditors' job outcomes. Burnout is characterized by emotional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment, and depersonalization. It has negative impacts on individual auditor's job outcomes. The study employs a 2x2-between-subject experimental design with the participants of 48 accounting students as novice auditors. The experimental treatments were flexible vs. standard work arrangement and training vs. no training of management stress. The results showed that flexible work arrangements and training of management stress effectively reduces negative effects of burnout on auditor outcomes. Auditors in the group with flexible work arrangements and training of management stress have the highest job satisfaction and performance, and the lowest turnover intention.

JEL: M42

KEYWORDS: Burnout, Flexible Work Arrangement, Training of Management Stress


Auditors face job pressures brought on by the demands for precision and professional skepticism of their responsibility to produce a high quality audit report. Jones, Norman, and Wier (2010) argue several attributes related to auditors' career may lead to a difficult situation creating a stressful working environment. For example when auditors are in the busy season working for more than ten hours per day, in a limited time period for several months causes stress. During their busy time, auditors often work on simultaneous assignments with short deadlines. This condition gives rise to a responsibility conflict of job, family, and other personal activities (Fogarty, Singh, Rhoads and Moore, 2000; Sanders, Fulks and Knoblett, 1995). Burnout is a form of stress experienced by the auditors that has got attention from previous studies with analyses of some factors of its antecedents or consequences (Fogarty et al., 2000; Goolsby, 1992; Schütz dan Syverud, 1999). Burnout is a psychological phenomenon characterized by three related symptoms, such as emotional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment, and depersonalization (Fogarty et al., 2000). Furthermore, several studies related to burnout in accounting field have been done, including, burnout symptoms occurred in auditors' profession (Rose, 1983 and Sanders, 1998), internal audit (Kusel and Deyoub, 1983), and management accounting (Figler, 1980).

The empirical evidence from previous research shows that burnout has effects on dysfunctional behavior of auditors that result in substantial inefficiency on either organization or individual, such as turnover intention, absenteeism, and lower productivity (Jackson and Maslach, 1982; Leiter and Maslach, 1988; and Shirom, 1989). Fogarty et al. (2000), Murtiasri and Ghozali (2006), and Jones at el. (2010) documented that burnout mediates a relationship between job stressor consisting of role conflict, role ambiguity, and role overload, and job outcomes consisting of job performance, job satisfaction, and turnover intention. The increase of pressure on antecedent factor (job stressor) will increase the burnout intensity and then will result in diminished job outcomes of auditors. Nevertheless, those studies have not considered the factors which may mitigate burnout for increasing auditors' outcomes.

Goolsby (1992) uses role stress theory to identify ways to mitigate burnout conditions in marketing organizations. Mitigating burnout through a burnout-coping strategy could be done by intrinsic support (controlling character or condition of an individual) and extrinsic support (creating organizational and social environment). Jones et al. (2010) argue that a healthy individual life is an intrinsic support that could be used as a mechanism to prevent burnout. However, that mechanism tends to originate from the individual side of an auditor and is out of the public accounting firm's control. Thus, not all auditors have this kind of intrinsic support. …

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