Bean Bags Won’t Impress Millennial Accountants

Upgrade your tech and transparency.

If you picture all millennials as trend-hopping youngsters dressed in funny hats and crazy glasses, you should adjust your mental image. Many members of this generation are old enough to remember life before the Internet.

Whether they were born in 1984 or 1994, millennials currently represent the largest generation in the U.S. workforce,1 and your accounting firm should find ways to attract and maintain these essential employees.

Defining Millennials

Before we dive into your firm’s strategy for harnessing the potential of millennials, let’s define who they are. Millennials were born between 1981 and 1997.2 This age range represents diverse life stages from college graduation to parenthood to first-time home buying.

A few Google searches may lead you to think of millennials as narcissistic vagabonds who never put down their smartphones.3 A viewing of Simon Sinek’s now-infamous discussion of millennials might make you think members of this age group are entitled, unfocused employees who “want free food and beanbags” in the workplace.

It is unfair to assign such negative traits to an entire generation. If you’re a millennial accountant reading this article, you might even roll your eyes and think, “That’s definitely not me!”

Millennials are ready to change the world, but first, they’re stopping by your firm for an interview.

Addressing Stress

84% of millennials rank work-life balance as the most important factor for a prospective job,1 and accountants can experience long, stressful work weeks that lead to burnout.

When you interview candidates, let them know the exact number of billable hours they’re expected to produce. This transparency builds trust and realistic expectations.

Also tell the interviewee what you do to make your employees’ lives easier. Whether you reward more vacation time, keep bike racks outside the building, or offer mentoring programs, show prospective employees how you go above and beyond for your firm.

Working Remotely

Do you let your staff work from home? If you don’t, you might want to reconsider, because 82% of millennials cite work flexibility as a major factor when considering a new job.1 Plus, studies have shown that employees are 13.5% more efficient when working from home.4

Of course, you’ll need to set some IT ground rules if you don’t already have them. Make sure your employees forward their land line calls to their cell phones when they’re working from home.

When working remotely, all employees’ devices should have:5

  • Twelve-character passwords including numbers, symbols, lower-case letters, and capital letters.
  • Firewalls.
  • Email encryption.
  • Secure Wi-Fi networks available.

Embracing Technology

If you don’t update your firm’s technology, you could lose staff. Ditch those ancient computer monitors and humongous desktop PCs, because of all age groups, millennials are most likely to leave a job due to substandard technology.6

Millennials see the value in tech-driven collaboration, and like workers of every generation, they don’t want to deal with machinery that barely functions. This generation embraces tablets, mobile collaboration, and even virtual reality. We aren’t saying you should drop $600 on an Oculus Rift headset, but you need to stay current on emerging tech trends affecting the accounting industry.

Fostering Engagement

60% of millennials are open to different job opportunities, and millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.7 What’s the main source of these staggering numbers? Engagement.

Contrary to popular belief, soft benefits like ping pong tables, unlimited naps, and pinball machines won’t help you retain millennial workers if you don’t give them real reasons to stay.6

There are plenty of bright, dedicated millennial accountants willing to earn their place at your firm, and they deserve an engaging, tech-friendly work environment where transparency and collaboration are unbreakable cultural pillars.

Your Thoughts

What do you do to attract, engage, and retain employees at your firm? If you’re a millennial accountant, what do you think firms could do to better address your needs?

 

Share your insights in the comments section below.

This article is for general information purposes only.

CITATIONS

1Reynolds, Brie. “FlexJobs Survey: Millennials More Interested in Travel, Work Flexibility Than Gen X, Baby Boomers.” FlexJobs. 30 Sept. 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

2Millennials Surpass Gen Xers as the Largest Generation in U.S. Labor Force.” Pew Research Center. 8 May 2017. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

3Mimaroglu, Alp. “5 Millennial Stereotypes: Fact, Fiction, or Scapegoat?” Entrepreneur. 13 Apr. 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

4Bloom, Nicholas. “To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work from Home.” Harvard Business Review. Jan-Feb 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

5Henriksen, Carl. “10 Security Tips for Remote and Mobile Working.” Minutehack. 29 Apr. 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

6White, Sarah K. “How millennials are shaping the future of work.” CIO. 4 Aug. 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

7How Millennials Want to Work and Live.” Gallup. N.D. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

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