October 17, 2018

Eating Hours

Are You Guilty of Time Theft?

Firms preach you should charge all hours you work to the proper charge code. Simple right? Unfortunately, not all employees do as they are told. In fact, time theft is running rampant in public accounting. And it appears to be one of the biggest elephants in the room that no one is addressing. So let’s […]

EY Employee Has Eaten So Many Hours, He’s Gone on Hunger Strike

We have received a tip from an EY employee who's in a situation many of you can relate to: I rolled onto a workstream (sub-engagement) where I have had no involvement into the budget or other matters (deliverables, etc.).  My hours are being limited by this manager that has caused me to "eat" hours, so […]

Don’t Eat Hours, You Idiots

With yet another busy season approaching, it's time to open Pandora's Box yet again and talk about how you're billing your time. Specifically, how you're not billing your time. Like sleeping with coworkers and sending inappropriate gifs over the firm's messaging system, eating hours is something everyone does but doesn't really talk about. Does that […]

Another List of the Best Accounting Firms to Work For, And Another Reason to Hate These Lists

If you hate your job, it's clearly because you don't work for one of Accounting Today's "100 Best Firms to Work For." Every year they come out with this list, and every year it bugs the hell out of me. I don't totally get the methodology of determining and ranking the list, mostly because I […]

It’s Time To Retire the Useless Jargon

A reader sick of the clichés suggests we open the floor to discuss some overused phrases that should be retired immediately. Let's think outside of the box here, circle back and think big picture. The use of the phrase "reaching out" should be immediately discontinued! It's old jargon that people are totally sick of hearing. […]

Does Eating Hours Win at Grant Thornton?

As we trudge towards busy season, there are certain things that everyone gets a little anxious about. Like not seeing the sun for three months. Like putting on an extra 15-20 pounds because you’re stuffing your face with takeout three nights (minimum) a week. Oh! and then there’s the hours. Right, the hours.

For those of you t awhile, you know how the game works. Do you really spend 14 hours a day staring at a spreadsheets, slapping together financial puzzles without nary a drop in your production? Obviously not. Some of you take smoke breaks. Some of you have the audacity to take a lunch hour. Some of you drop by this fine publication to keep yourself abreast of the latest haps in accounting world (and leave the page open all day). Some of you, on average, spend 15-30 minutes watching your your cubicle crush from afar thinking that you’ll just mosey over and say “What’s up? Numbers, huh?” only to snap out of your daydream.

All this non-billable time accumulates into a decent portion of your day. Accordingly, you work a little later to make up for your lack of productivity, charge the appropriate hours (based on your increasingly tighter budget) and you call it a day.

For those newer to the game, you may look up at the clock, note that it’s 6 pm and you think to yourself, “What did I accomplish today?” The answer: not much. But since there’s not charge code for “Fucking Around – General” and slamming it all to an administration code isn’t such a good move, you slip it into a code for a client that you’re supposedly working on. No problem, right?

Well, your managers and partners might have a problem. They look at the billed hours and then try to gauge what your progress is. If there are hundreds of hours and you have jack squat to show for it, people are going to be pissed.

With all that in mind, I’ll share a query from a reader out of Grant Thornton’s New York office:

I would like to know how wide-spread “Eating Hours” is at GT (NYC).

You are put on a project, its a lot of work, and as time progress more and more work piles on you. You end up putting a lot of hours. The manager/partner says that hours will not be a problem, and that you should bill all hours worked.

When the project is just about over, after you had worked tons of hours, when you are least expect it, they pull you into a meeting and admonishing you that there was no way that you worked those hours. (Basically calling you a thief to your face).

After that meeting, you are told to adjust all hours over and above the budgeted 35-40 hours work week.

Even though I am not an hourly employee, I do feel robbed in two ways. First, I can’t really enjoy the accomplishment of the project because I feel so cheated, unappreciated and disrespected by this unethical behavior. Additionally, I feel stress because how can I be expected to meet the already unrealistic utilization goals when those scumbags make me eat hours?

Okay, let me say first that I do not doubt this person’s account of being jerked around by a manager or partner with regard to hours. However, it’s a little bit unbelievable if this meeting where the de-pantsing occured came without any warning. Most of your superiors – whether they are partners, managers, SAs, whatever – are not completely unreasonable people. They don’t all of sudden turn on a dime and say, “Everything I told you was a lie. You should have known that you shouldn’t have been billing all those hours.” If that is the case, then you work for assholes.

Hopefully, if eating hours is expected of you, they tell you up front. I had former colleagues that were on engagements like this where a Senior Manager simply let them know exactly how many hours they were expected to bill but it was pretty obvious that they were going to be working far more than that to get the job done. It’s a fucked up equation to be sure, but at least you know what you’re up against. This has nothing to do with firms or offices but rather the people running the engagement.

As for GTNYC, it’s pretty tough to know how widespread the practice of eating hours is. How widespread is the alcoholism? Or doucebaggery? It’s not quantitative. But our tipster is still concerned:

I have spoken to many of my friends at other Big 4, at regional firms, and at smaller firms and no one had experienced it as bad as some of us here in GT (NYC).

Fine. But you’re very small cross-section of a huge population. Maybe you were just on a couple of bad engagements with bad partners/managers. It happens. Believe it.

For the Purple People Eaters out there, is eating hours at GT a problem? Does Vault have it all wrong? Eating hours definitely doesn’t win, but does it pay? Discuss below.

SHOCKER: New Study Says Work Interferes with Life

ilovemyjob.jpgWe realize this is hard to believe — especially during this time of year — but yes, it’s true!
According to the University of Toronto’s new survey of 1,800 American workers, 50% of those surveyed take work home on a regular basis. Not a surprising result since the authors asked questions that easily solidified the “Americans live to work” mantra:
• How often does your job interfere with your home or family life?
• How often does your job interfere with your social or leisure activities?
• How often do you think about things going on at work when you are not working?
Scott Schiemen, one of the authors of the study, informs us of the grim but dead on conclusions:

Schieman says, “Nearly half of the population reports that these situations occur ‘sometimes’ or ‘frequently,’ which is particularly concerning given that the negative health impacts of an imbalance between work life and private life are well-documented.”


The study’s core findings indicate some things that may sound familiar to you:

• People with college or postgraduate degrees tend to report their work interferes with their personal life more than those with a high school degree;
• Professionals tend to report their work interferes with their home life more than people in all other occupational categories;
• Several job-related demands predict more work seeping into the home life: interpersonal conflict at work, job insecurity, noxious environments, and high-pressure situations; however, having control over the pace of one’s own work diminishes the negative effects of high-pressure situations;
• Several job-related resources also predict more work interference with home life: job authority, job skill level, decision-making latitude, and personal earnings;
• As predicted, working long hours (50-plus per week) is associated with more work interference at home — surprisingly, however, that relationship is stronger among people who have some or full control over the timing of their work;

Again, shout if this sounds familiar. The sorry thing is that 50+ hours a week is considered “long hours.” Most of you can do 50 standing on your head. Plus, those of you that are eating hours are doing yourself an even greater disservice. But that’s a whole other discussion.
Maybe we should just own up to it? We love working! To hell with family, friends, hobbies, etc. We’ve got work to do!
When Work Interferes With Life [Science Daily]
More Work/Life Balance:
Moss Adams Values ‘A Balanced Life’ over ‘Accountability’
Is the Era of Work/Life Balance Over?
Jack Welch is Not Buying the Whole Work-Life Balance Thing

Eating Hours: Are You in Denial?

Do we need to say anything else? Ok, we’ll say a little.

Now that there’s less of you doing the same amount of work, it’s entirely possible this could be a hell of a problem, especially come winter.

So who’s doing this? You getting word directly? In writing? If so, for God’s sake, send us the email. If you’re getting less obvious pressure we want to hear about that too.

If you’re doing it, get some stones and quit doing it. Get yourself a support group if ness.
Don’t even try telling us it’s not going on, we heard about it in the Twitterverse. Gospel.