Finance Staff Also Hard Hit by Economic Woes

May 6, 2009 ( - As are most of their colleagues, accounting and finance professionals are more stressed out and suffering lower morale because of the economic downturn, a new survey found.

A Robert Half news release said 32% of U.S. respondents and 40% globally said their finance and accounting departments have been affected by the downturn. Among that group, 49% of U.S. respondents have a hiring freeze in place, 47% have consolidated roles and 38% have experienced layoffs.

Asked to specify the effects of the recession, nearly half ( 48%) of U.S. respondents cited increased stress, compared to 39% globally. Managers surveyed from Australia and Ireland, along with those from the United States, reported the highest levels of stress among their financial teams ( 48% ).

The next most commonly cited effects, both globally and in the United States, were heavier workloads and decreased morale. Less than one-third of all respondents both in the United States ( 32%) and around the world ( 29% ) said their accounting and finance teams have remained unaffected.

In response, the majority of managers surveyed (62% in the United States and 70% globally) said they have tried to better support their teams: redistributing workloads, increasing communication with staff and postponing projects.

Despite slowing economic conditions, most managers ( 56%) worldwide said they were still having difficulty finding skilled job candidates for accounting and finance positions, the same percentage as in last year’s survey. Recruiting challenges have eased the most in the United States, where only 32% reported difficulty locating good people, down from 72% last year.

The global survey is based on responses from more than 4,800 hiring managers in finance and human resources across 21 countries.