The so-called ‘millennials’ are those born post-1982 and came of age around the turn of the century. They are often branded as being lazy and expecting something for nothing, but this is far from the case. Millennials will make up 75 per cent of the work force in the accounting sector by 2025. So, the question is how best to engage and inspire a generation that has a great deal to offer, both as staff and as customers.
Millennials are the first generation to grow up in a digital world. That’s bound to have a profound impact on their outlook. After all, these ‘digital natives’ have been brought into a truly connected, global society.
For millennials, true value comes from experiences, but how can you attract high calibre and loyal young talent when, supposedly, they don’t believe in jobs for life and would rather be off travelling?
We’re frequently told technology will free us, but this generation really buys into that philosophy and believes nothing is impossible. This makes millennials both ambitious and tech-savvy. They’re confident in using social media, great at multi-tasking and at handling change.
Attracting and retaining millennials means offering a working environment which plays to their strengths. In practical terms this means embracing technology as far as possible to automate, or at least minimise, the more mundane aspects of the job. In the case of Farnell Clarke, reducing the amount of time spent book keeping has been popular all-round - not just with our younger staff!
Millennials typically want to feel they’re progressing and learning. They seek out fast-moving and forward-looking workplaces that will meet their career aspirations. However, If they think they’re treading water they’ll move on. As such, it is crucial to provide ample opportunities for training, including basic skills, one-to-one feedback and mentoring.
Also, consider how you measure success and consider implementing a more task-focused approach. Embrace flexible working practices to offer greater work/life balance because mobility, ubiquitous connectivity and cloud technologies mean where and when someone is working, is less important than the results. If your team can avoid the rush hour or pick the kids up from school, there’s a much greater chance they’ll be loyal.
The other side of the coin is attracting millennials as customers. People like people that are like themselves. Having the right staff in place as your front-line ambassadors is absolutely the best way to counter any preconceptions that accountancy is staid or inflexible.
You must also equip your millennial clients with the tools to support their connected lifestyle, just as you should for your staff. This means offering cloud software, mobile reporting and receipt processing (for example). In this way, whether that individual is off exploring some exotic locale or at the coffee shop, they should still be able to log-in to Wi-Fi and check their business is operating as it should.
There are too many negative judgements attached to the term Millennial. Engaging this demographic may mean thinking differently, but businesses willing to embrace change will be well-placed to succeed in the digital economy.