How to attract millennials to work for your accounting practice

Accountant & Bookkeeper Guides

5 min read

Baby boomers are retiring and a new generation is taking their place – a generation with very different employment needs. We spoke to Accountingfly, an accounting-specific job board and network to find out how your firm can hire the best millennials.

Employee demographics are changing

Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are people born between roughly 1982 and 2004. It’s a catch-all description, similar to “baby boomers”.

The broad demographics in most developed countries show that baby boomers are retiring. Millennials could replace them in every business – including your accounting firm. But as Accountingfly says, to hire the best, you’ll need to understand and provide for their needs and wants.

A growing workforce

Millennials now make up the majority of the workforce in many countries. For example, in the US this generation accounts for 53 million workers (according to FactTank). That’s predicted to grow to 86 million by 2020.

It’s a similar story all around the world. Increasingly you’ll have no choice but to hire people in the younger generation for your accounting practice. But there are good reasons for doing so.

Fresh ways of doing business

Just like people, some businesses can get stuck in a rut as they get older. Traditional methods of thinking and working become ingrained. Groupthink takes hold. You start to hear phrases like, “We do it this way because we’ve always done it this way.”

This can be catastrophic for an accounting firm. The world is changing fast, and practices have to change to keep up. One great way of doing that is by employing younger people. They have the skills, knowledge and drive to revolutionize the way firms do business.

What can millennials bring to your practice?

There are many benefits of hiring millennials to work for your accounting firm. These include:

  • Perspective
    Youth brings fresh perspective and a different way of looking at your business and field. This reason alone makes hiring younger people worthwhile.
  • Energy
    Younger people are often bursting with energy and the desire to try new things. This can be harnessed to help push your business forward.
  • Familiarity with new technology
    Partners at your firm might know about new technology – but they may not know how to make the most of it. Millennials do. For example, many of them grew up with social media and they understand its benefits.
  • Contacts in new markets
    Entrepreneurs are getting younger. Any millennials you hire may have friends and acquaintances with their own businesses.
  • They may be more cost effective
    As a general rule, younger people have less experience, so they usually start on lower salaries those with more experience. However, millennials have requirements other than money. We’ll look at that next.
Youth brings fresh perspective and a different way of looking at your business and industry.

Six things millennials expect from their workplace

Younger generations usually have expectations beyond just getting paid to do a job. Here’s what you’ll need to offer if you want to attract the best:

  1. Work-life integration
    This is different to work-life balance – it means a merging of work and life. For example, you might let your staff to do some work at home. But in return, they’ll expect to be able to relax sometimes while at work.
  2. Flexible working hours
    Some people are great at working 9 to 5. But Generation Y have times when they’re at their best. If possible, let your staff work at times that suit them. As long as you set clear goals and deadlines, they’ll get the work done. Millennial Branding report found that 45% of millennials are more likely to value flexible working hours over pay.
  3. Great culture
    Work doesn’t have to be dull, repetitive or boring. Increasingly computers are taking over that kind of routine work. Good employers understand how to keep their employees interested and happy. A great start is to offer your employees varied, challenging work with clear and achievable goals.
  4. Training and career opportunities
    Younger people often lack work experience. So make sure you budget for their training. They are usually quick learners, so the investment will pay off in no time.
  5. Fair payment
    Pay a fair wage and you’ll get workers who aren’t stressed about living expenses. Fair pay isn’t a prime driving force, but everybody has to eat and live somewhere.
  6. A collaborative working environment
    Competitive environments are stressful for everyone except the “winner”. A more productive way of getting work done is for everyone to collaborate. Encourage each staff member to give their all and engage them in the company’s vision.

Follow these guidelines and word will spread that you’re a good employer. This will encourage more millennials to work for you.

How to attract the best millennials

So your firm is an exciting, fun place with a collaborative environment and flexible working hours. What are some more things you can do to attract millennials to your firm?

  • Update your website
    Does your website reflect your business ethos? Or has it become stale and a little boring? Take another look at it with fresh eyes. See if you can update it to better reflect your dynamic business culture.
  • Refresh your social media strategy
    Could your tweets have more personality? Is your blog out of date? If you don’t have a social media presence it may put off potential hires. Find someone within your business who’s willing to spend the time on this and put them to work. If you need to, hire a consultant to help you promote your firm with social media.
  • Get your staff involved
    Email your staff and ask them to describe your company culture. Find the best, most positive descriptions and use them in your recruitment material. Offer a finders' bonus for anyone in the company who refers successful new hires.

Live and breathe your business culture

It’s not enough that your firm is a great place to work. You have to prove it if you want to attract the best millennials. And this isn’t something you can fake.

Ideally your practice will live and breathe your values. And it should connect with existing and prospective employees at a meaningful level.

That description might not sound like a traditional accounting practice. But that's the point. Firms have to change if they want to attract the best millennial talent. Only then will they get the full benefit of this large and growing workforce.