Over the next 10 years, millennial workers are expected to make up over half the American workforce as the baby boomer generation ages out and moves into retirement. Unfortunately for accounting companies, this doesn't necessarily translate into a robust candidate pool. A recent survey by the Institute of Management Accountants reveals that 62 percent of top-level accounting professionals believe their greatest challenge is in recruiting and retaining millennial workers.
Accounting firms have to think outside the box when it comes to recruiting millennial workers. A hefty salary, a retirement plan and health insurance are typically not enough to satisfy the unique needs of this generation. Unlike generations before them, millennials greatly value a good work-life balance, with flexible hours and opportunities to work remotely. They are attracted to companies with a more casual, fun atmosphere over more formal, traditional firms. While accounting firms don't have to reinvent the wheel, it's worth looking into what areas they can be more flexible and accommodating.
Millennial workers have many more career opportunities than the generations before them. In addition, technological advances have made it much easier to connect with potential employers via the internet, email and social media. "They are always looking at what other jobs are possible and with the internet it's very easy to get your name out there, to be either recruited or find another position," says Kip Krumwiede, IMA director of research. Even after getting on at a great accounting firm, a millennial worker may choose to leave the company one to three years in, after absorbing valuable knowledge and experience.
One key to preventing this phenomenon is maintaining open lines of communication between employees and management. Two of the main reasons millennial workers jump ship is lack of salary and limited opportunity for advancement. In addition, millennials want and need lots of feedback from management, and a clear picture of the kind of career path they can expect with good performance. Companies should rise to the occasion and provide lots of information on expectations to new hires to help set them on the right path, and provide lots of constructive feedback along the way.
Mentoring programs that match an experienced accountant with a new grad may also help accounting firms retain millennial workers. "The more experienced worker gets a better idea of the needs of the new hire, and the new hire gets a little more knowledge about the company," says Krumwiede. Moreover, the new worker gets to see the kind of career path they could experience if they stay at the firm and perform well.
Managers at accounting companies need to find the right ways to attract and retain millennial workers. A complete overhaul of company culture is not necessary, but finding ways to be more flexible and accommodating to millennial workers' unique desires is needed in order to attract a vibrant workforce and remain competitive in the accounting industry.
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