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The Boomer Bulletin - 2015
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How Millennials are Changing the Workplace (and Why This Affects Your Firm’s Employee Retention)

Posted By Expensify, Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Article provided by Boomer Technology Circle™ and Producer Circle™ sponsoring partner Expensify. This post is part one of Expensify’s “Startup lessons for accountants”, a three-part series on how firms can take a page from the startup battle book and rise in the accounting ranks — no Nerf guns required.

A generation taking over

Employee poaching is nothing new for accounting firms but in recent years, finding and keeping talent has become increasingly difficult. As the workforce changes — with 75% of the workforce being millennials by 2025— accounting firms must adopt new work culture strategies to attract and retain employees.

Unlike previous generations, millennials’ values go beyond money. Instead, company culture is a better indicator of their tenure. Millennials are less willing to make sacrifices in their personal life to meet excessive work demands and startups understand that it’s not a good work-life balance that millennials are looking for — it’s a work-life blend. As a result, startups are still more likely than corporate firms to be associated with a more attractive company culture despite the potential for heavy workloads and stress.

What lessons can startups offer firms for motivating a workforce whose values differ greatly from those of the generation before?

How startups get it right

Startups often have all-around greater flexibility that reinforces the idea that work and personal life take place in tandem. For example, employees with flexible schedules are less likely to feel resentment from prioritizing the company’s needs over their own. Flexible schedules help build trust which in turn, empowers employees to be more productive.

Flexibility is only one aspect of the “modern office” that is extremely valuable to millennials. Startups also make a great effort to encourage work-life blend in other aspects of their employee’s career. For example, startups are more likely to consider suggestions from employees, adopt new technology, support personal career development, and encourage friendships to go beyond the office. An employer that gives millennials the freedom of choice through a good work-life blend is not only building personal and trusting relationships, but also nurturing company loyalty.

What your firm can do

Accounting firms must understand that millennials don’t measure career progress in the same way as prior generations. Instead of money, millennials tend to focus on the sense of achievement and enjoyment that they receive from their job. Here’s how your firm can invest in better company culture and lower employee turnover rate — without even adding a beanbag chair.

  1. Support a work-life blend by:

    • Giving relationships a new priority and promoting a friendlier work environment
    • Supporting “freedom of choice” by being open to flexible work schedules
    • Encouraging team-bonding activities outside of work, such as volunteering

  2. Use sense of achievement as a motivator by:

    • Giving real-time encouragements such as praise for hard work during a project
    • Offering frequent, face-to-face feedback in lieu of quarterly written reviews
    • “Think outside the box” for rewards and perks; for example, look at blueboard or anyperk.

  3. Create a forward-thinking practice by:

    • Being open to creative solutions, even if they differ from traditional practices
    • Empowering employees to find processes that work best for them. For example, do they prefer guidance throughout a new project or just the beginning? Work with new employees to find something that works for both parties involved.
    • Discussing — as a group — alternatives for antiquated systems. Justify challenged processes with rationality rather than “that’s how it’s always been done”

By adopting these small changes, your firm can drastically alter company morale in the long term. PwC predicts that by 2016, almost 80 percent of its workforce will be composed of millennials. When peak seasons approach, you can be relieved that your employees are working together as a team, rather than as individuals with diminishing morale.

About Expensify

Expensify is the industry-leader in cloud-based expense and travel management. Customers like Yahoo!, Uber, and Zendesk leverage Expensify’s user-friendly web and mobile application and time-savings as a perk for employees. Sign up at use.expensify.com and spend less time with expense reports and more time with happy employees.

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