Millennials now make up the largest single generation. They are the future of the accounting industry, both as clients and as talent. Is your firm ready to attract the team you'll need to power your future?
So, who counts as a millennial? According to Pew, millennials are born between 1981 and 1996, and range in age from 22 to 37 in 2018. More importantly though, these individuals are digital natives who grew up in the age of information.
Millennials have been in the workforce now for 15 years. They make up the largest part of the current workforce, and have the power to transform the landscape by standing up for what they want. While research from IBM’s Institute for Business shows that their workplace needs are no different from their Gen X and Baby Boomer colleagues, they face several stereotypes. If you believe them, millennials are either lazy and entitled or eternal optimists on a mission to save the world.
So, what's the reality?
According to a 2018 Deloitte report, the truth is much simpler. Millennials are tech-savvy and eager to contribute meaningfully in the workplace. As the generation that's grown up in the age of information, they are used to having unlimited information at their fingertips. This translates to the ability to work remotely, find answers quickly and efficiently, plus flourish in an environment where they are responsible for their work.
Last year, we wrote about how you can adapt your accounting services for a millennial audience. Now, how can you adapt your firm? Here’s how.
What do millennials want in the workplace?
According to Deloitte’s 7th annual millennial survey, the ability to attract and retain millennial talent is shaped by workplace culture, specifically flexibility and purpose. In fact, 50% of participants identified flexibility as “very important” when choosing where to work. This report also highlights that trust translates to increased employee loyalty.
Having a "purpose culture" means millennials can see the impact of their work, whether on the firm or clients. Trusting them to develop client relationships and equipping them with the training, resources and tools they need to do is crucial.
If you are looking to hire someone to drive all over town to collect shoeboxes from clients and then sort, organize, and enter all of the data manually, chances are millennials are simply not interested. This is where technology can do the heavy lifting for them, and for you.
Prepare for the future of your firm.
To meet the needs of millennials, you need to establish flexibility and this sense of purpose. Technology goes hand in hand with both of these values.
Prioritize integrated technology systems within your practice. Consider using 100% cloud software, from communication tools like Slack to Google Calendar and Google Drive to sync projects and calendars. These enable your team to do their job from just about anywhere, as long as they have a laptop and Wi-Fi connection.
The world around us is changing daily thanks to technology. There’s no longer time in the day for manual data entry, when other firms down the street are using those hours to add further value.
So, let’s take this further. If your firm embraces change and technology, evaluate the way your team works. Do you openly encourage flexible working arrangements, or expect your team to clock in at 8 am on the dot every morning?
By emphasising technology, you are not only better positioned to successfully attract millennial talent, but also improve employee retention due to the feeling that their needs are being met.
Here’s how you can use technology to attract (and retain) top tier talent from the millennial generation.
1. Eliminate Geographic Restrictions.
Physical boundaries in accounting are receding. Many of our partner firms are now breaking down geographic barriers and offering remote working options for their team. This gives them, and you, access to a larger pool of talent when it comes to hiring. In order to continue to work cohesively and effectively as a team, look into ways you can implement technologies to enable your team to work from anywhere.
For example, Slack for internal communications, Zoom for “meeting” with the team over video calls, and Receipt Bank as part of the app stack that allows your team to successfully complete their work when it comes to collecting source documents from clients. Using technology to fully capitalize on the virtual flexibility opportunity enables you to have the competitive advantage in attracting the best talent.
2. Emphasize Productivity.
Instead of tracking hours worked, or employee inputs, monitor your team’s outputs. This is a very compelling perk to candidates from the millennial generation who have a strong desire to be trusted in the workplace. Essentially, they can work as little or as much as they need to, as long as they complete the job. Trust and empowerment can transform not only productivity, but also accountability for projects and client relationships.
3. Establish a Firm for the Future.
Technology plays a major role in helping accountants and bookkeepers take their firm to the next level in today’s ever-evolving society. Are your favorite clients the ones who you have to chase for paper receipts and invoices? Probably not. But those that run a digital back office make your job so much easier and allow you to provide services around interpreting the data, instead of collecting it.
From working with 35,000 accountants and bookkeepers globally, we can see that technology such as Receipt Bank allows firm owners to emphasize productivity within their teams. Give your team the tools needed to complete their work accurately and efficiently so you can stop tracking inputs and instead hold them accountable for the quality of their outputs.
Because we are in the age of information, clients expect to have answers and access to financial data on demand. That same preference holds true to the next generation of talent. Generally speaking, millennials are not interested in chasing paper documents from clients or keying in data to a spreadsheet. Instead, they see value in having access to that data on demand so that they can focus on the more challenging and interesting areas of accounting.
Dené Paquin and his team at Canadian firm Enkel emphasize the importance of integrated technology within the practice because management recognizes that, “no-one wants to do the bookkeeping process. It’s a lot of data entry and mundane work that’s often unnecessary.” They know that millennials seek meaningful work. For them, the solution to meeting the needs of their next generation of talent was implementing Receipt Bank.
“When bookkeeping becomes more than repetition, but instead a service helping businesses make better decisions, it becomes much more appealing and engaging. That definitely helps with recruiting for the future,” says Dené.
The power to attract top-tier talent is at your fingertips. Are you ready to take the digital dive and emphasize technology within your firm? With a commitment to technology and an innovative mindset, you can seal the deal on the attracting millennial talent, and invest in your firm’s future success.