There’s no denying that the face of today’s accountant has changed. And according to George Charne of The Hunter Group, that face may appear distracted and hidden behind an iPhone, but a closer look offers a much different interpretation. In our round table discussion, George spoke to his first impressions of the Millennial workforce in relation to their work ethic.
“I walk into the office and they have their headphones plugged in looking at video on one screen…and tax returns on another.”
At first glance you may think Millennials are unengaged but, upon further review, find that not only are they getting the work done—they’re multi-tasking.
George is a member of Balance Point’s CPA Advisory Board, a collaboration of prominent CPAs and the Balance Point management team. “The future of accounting” was one of the topics that was discussed at the group’s first round table meeting last fall.
He continued, “You ask yourself, ‘Are they working? And they are!”
George’s sentiments, and the rest of our CPA Advisory Board, highlight the varying attitudes towards the Millennial employee.
It is official: Millennials are the largest working generation in the U.S.
According to Pew Research “more than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials.” These digital natives (born between 1981 and 1995) are used to having technology at their fingertips. In a society where you can now order a latte in seconds using an app, instant gratification is expected. And, it seems, they also want to advance in their careers at the same lightning speed.
That desire is what’s behind their job-hopping mindset. “They don’t think it’s wrong. I just think it’s their mentality; they’re supposed to leave and go to the next level in their career,” observes Thomas Angelo of the Spire Group, an Advisory Board member.
There’s truth behind this perception. Deloitte Research found that 66% of Millennials hoped to have a different job five years from now or sooner—44% said they would quit within two years.
In contrast, Linda Wescott of Savastano, Kaufman & Company shares her own personal career path “I’ve only had two jobs in my life!” She continues, “It’s a difference in generation, a difference in priorities. We just wanted to work, now they want to like where they work.”
Retaining younger talent may require a bit of ingenuity. Thomas Angelo says that his firm, The Spire Group, works hard to create a favorable culture. “We look at the best companies to work for through survey results. We see where we didn’t score at least a 90%, and we work on that.”
One way they work on it is by providing opportunities for socialization and team building. “We have a group lunch every single month…I want them to collaborate even if I’m not invited.”
The Future is Bright
Despite the challenges, research suggests that the industry is thriving.
According to the American Institute of CPAs’ 2015 edition of Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits report, universities and firms are both optimistic about the growth of the profession — 97% of bachelor’s programs and 70% of master’s programs expect their enrollment to be the same or higher than the previous year.
Additionally, 91% of firms expect their hiring of new accounting graduates to be higher than or the same as the previous year. Larger firms are especially optimistic about future hiring with all large firms employing over 200 CPAs forecasting the same or more new hires in every area next year.
To succeed, firms must continue to look to the future. By taking a closer look at policies and office culture, management can ensure that the next generation is in a position where they are poised for success. How is this accomplished? Board member Jim Lawrence of Traphagen Financial offers a “roll with the punches” strategy, “You have to keep them happy, give them incentives, and develop a game plan.”