5 Reasons Gen Y Will Make or Break Your Firm

And two make-or-break questions for your firm’s future.

By Hitendra Patil
Pransform Inc.

Have you heard of “Generation Y”? Anyone who was born between 1980 and 2000 is a Millennial and they will be the majority of your staff within the next few years, if not already. They have grown up with technology, the information explosion and diversity. What they studied for their degrees is far vaster than what you studied.

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Simply, they think and act radically different than older generations in at least five ways that are already beginning to reshape the profession.

1. They Totally Crave Being Connected:

Take their Internet away from them and they will rebel. They want to be omnipresent, on the smartphones and tablets of their friends and connections.

For any accounting firm, tying them to a desk to keystroke accounting and tax inputting is a mistake. (Fortunately, technology is fast moving toward “zero data entry” and “paperless” so you have to define “work” in a very different way.) They want to be connected to the users of the information they process and produce. In other words, they will love interacting with partners, other departments and of course, clients.

2. They Feel Driven By Challenges:

They assume they’ll have access to a lot of information and they get inspired by huge success stories of garage startups growing into billion-dollar IPOs. Don’t expect them to stay long with your firm if there is no challenge, no fast learning opportunities and little sharing of knowledge and feedback, irrespective of the position they are hired for.

3. They Compete Fiercely Yet They Collaborate Well:

Be it startup funding pitches or “American Idol” or myriad reality TV shows, they are exposed to being competitive during the years of their lives when people form their belief systems. They have grown up with social media; they refer to ratings on Yelp before they decide on dinner. They truly understand what effective collaboration can mean to their careers. Giving any task or project to them without explaining why it is competitively important to your firm is like telling them to find a new job.

4. They Are Not As Needy As You May Think:

Older generations accumulated wealth and have transferred it to Generation Y. Being better off financially has enabled their families to give them better educations. Armed with no real challenges of basic survival and strengthened with their ability to think creatively due to the advances in education allows them to chart their own path – if you don’t give them one. No wonder CPA Trendlines’ new survey report says: Keeping Good Talent a Global Issue. And if you feel you are hiring the needy ones, either you are under an illusion or you may not have hired true talent.

5. The Secret in Many Job Ads Now (and Your Opportunity):

Did you notice how many job ads (not just in accounting and tax) have one prominent requirement – “entrepreneurial thinking” – nowadays? It is not just a gimmick. Psychologists are tracking the shift in belief systems due to societal, technological and progressive cultures. The data show very clearly that people today are more driven by “ownership.”  This can be used to your advantage. Many talented (and well trained) accounting and tax professionals want to move from larger firms to comparatively smaller firms, if the smaller firms can give them ownership of certain aspects of the firm’s work. You should include the words “entrepreneurial thinking” in the job ads that your firm posts. But make sure they are backed up with clearly defined “work ownership” responsibilities.

Two Questions For You:

  1. Is your firm prepared for the Gen Y-driven future?
  2. Is your firm’s succession plan built on the fundamental factors that drive Gen Y?

7 Responses to “5 Reasons Gen Y Will Make or Break Your Firm”

  1. Sandra Ritter

    Having daughters born in 1984 and 1987 I found this article very interesting. The one issue I have with it is #4. We paid our daughters’ college educations so yes, this applies to them. (They have lots of stocks that I decided not to use for college and are growing nicely in value.)But many Gen Y’s are saddle with student loans so #4 does not apply to them. That’s not mentioned at all.

    • Hitendra R. Patil

      Interesting thoughts Sandra! Thanks for taking time to read my post and share your mind. It may be interesting to find out what the figures say in terms of average student loan amounts and the courses they choose. I guess higher student loans will be common in tech / management course students. In any case, I think higher the need (because of higher loan amounts), higher may be the motivation to find more highly paying jobs and hence, the attrition levels might be growing. Also, as part of my day to day job, I come across several resumes that show 3-4 job changes in last 5 years, sometimes even more, at much more frequency now, than say 10 years ago. The “shift” has happened for sure!

  2. Dustin Wheeler CPA at Hawkins Cloward & Simister

    Excellent post, Hitendra. I’ve seen many talented CPAs among generation Y who are always looking for better ways of doing things and driving powerful changes in the profession.

  3. Hitendra R. Patil

    Ugo: Would you want to share why do you think so?

  4. ugo chiarato

    I would never hire a W2 employee of such generation. 1099 only.