Auditor Perceptions of Audit Workloads, Audit Quality, and Job Satisfaction
Forthcoming at Accounting Horizons
48 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2014 Last revised: 12 Jul 2019
Date Written: July 11, 2019
In this study, we use a survey instrument to obtain perspectives from over 700 auditors about present-day audit workloads and the relationship between audit workloads, audit quality, and job satisfaction. Our findings indicate that auditors are working, on average, five hours per week above the threshold at which they believe audit quality begins to deteriorate and often 20 hours above this threshold at the peak of busy season. Survey respondents perceive deadlines and staffing shortages as two of the primary reasons for high workloads and further believe that high workloads result in decreased audit quality via compromised audit procedures, impaired audit judgment, and difficulty retaining staff with appropriate knowledge and skills. We also find that auditors’ job satisfaction and their excitement about auditing as a career are negatively impacted by high audit workload, particularly when the workload exceeds a threshold that is perceived to impair audit quality. Overall, our findings provide support for the PCAOB’s recent concern that heavy workloads are continuing to threaten audit quality, and suggest that the primary drivers of workload (i.e., deadlines and staffing problems) might be the actual “root cause” of workload-related audit deficiencies.
Keywords: auditing, audit quality, audit workloads, PCAOB
JEL Classification: M42, M12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation