The health implications of the long hours worked by audit staff have been brought to light, after the deaths of a number of auditors in recent weeks gained international attention.
In one example, an employee from KPMG in Malaysia died in an accident on the way home from work. According to posts which have gone viral on Facebook, audit working culture was a serious contributory factor.
Founder of Aquanic EcoVenture and close friend of the deceased Adam Chan took to Facebook to claim that it was due to being overworked as an auditor.
Chan told the IAB: “People who newly join into the company will start from fresh no matter what qualifications that they are holding. I am also referring to people without any work experience. So they are exploited in a way that the norm is them working under control.”
Now Chan is raising awareness through the use of social media. He puts down the cause of his friends death to audit culture, where no one feels able to leave the office before work is completed, or even before the senior management leave.
He claims his friend was the ‘newbie’ that was exposed to a toxic working environment where nothing could be said, employees were scared to express their thoughts and opinions, and complied to anything that their manager put across.
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In response to these posts, other stories have been brought to light regarding workers who have broken down due to stress. Some have spoken out openly to share their experiences, of long office hours, physical health problems and most importantly the demise of their mental health.
One example of this would be Hoo Xinyi who had gained an internship with one of the Big Four firms, also based in Malaysia.
She later took to social media to share the truth about the audit culture.
In her post she said: “I remember asking my manager if I could leave work early because I had to attend my friend’s father’s wake but my manager told me to finish my work first.
“I remember getting gastritis from eating at irregular times.” She shared her experiences and the effects it had on her, and said later on in the post: “That 3 months of internship was the reason why I never stepped into (sic) auditing field since then and never wanted to work for any corporate anymore.”
PwC Kenya suicide
On October 2018, the assistant manager of PwC Kenya allegedly fell to his death after jumping off the 17th floor of Delta Towers offices.
The employee had suffered numerous burnouts at work. Reports by local publication Standard Digital said that Stephen Mumbo had once fallen asleep in the middle of a presentation.
In a post on PwC Kenya’s site, Country senior partner Peter Ngahu said: “We are deeply saddened and shocked by Steve’s death. As you can imagine, this is a very difficult challenge to come to terms with. On behalf of the partners and staff of PwC Kenya, I would like to express the shock and sadness that we feel, which is difficult to express in words right now. Our hearts and prayers are with his family, friends. We will support Steve’s family however we can.
“At this time, we cannot comment directly on the circumstances surrounding Steve’s death. I hope that our friends and clients understand that for now, investigations are ongoing by the relevant authorities. They have come to our offices today and we are working closely with them.
“In the meantime, we are also working with trained counsellors who are offering support to our PwC people. It is very important at this shocking time, to provide our people with trained professionals who can help us to work through the shock and emotions that we all feel. Counselling is only the beginning.”
IAB has reached out for comments from KPMG and PwC and is awaiting responses which will be added to this story.