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The Millennial Myth: Developing Your Best Employees

by MICPA | May 24, 2017   ()

The workplace is about to undergo a “silver tsunami” as baby boomers begin retire – and millennials are preparing to step into leadership roles.

But change is hard and millennials are unlike any generation we’ve seen before. With an emphasis on technology, a perceived sense of entitlement and penchant for job hopping, it may make recruiting and retention of this generation a challenge for companies looking to grow the talent pool.

The Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants is helping companies address this problem. In a day-long seminar on June 14, the MICPA will host CPAs, human resource professionals and others interested in learning how to recruit, retain and develop the largest generation of workers.

“This program is really for those who are struggling with hiring and engaging millennials,” said Brad Self, chief talent officer at Clark Schaefer Hackett, an Ohio-based public accounting firm. “There’s a lot of misconceptions about the generation.”

Self and his co-worker, Alison Ruhenkamp, lead a team at Clark Schaefer Hackett recruiting and developing new talent specifically focused on millennials.

With many misconceptions about the generation, Self and Ruhenkamp aim to provide insights for companies recruiting millennials. For example, millennials are often viewed as “job hoppers” or “entitled,” but Ruhenkamp thinks these terms are assigned unfairly.

“People think that millennials come in and want to be the boss right away,” she said. “But really, when they come into work, they want to see their career path and if they’re on a plan to move forward. If they don’t see growth, they’re out.”

Clark Schaefer Hackett has seen a significant decrease in staff turnover since implementing their new engagement program three years ago. The key has been to engage younger employees and provide a clear path for career growth.

Contrary to popular belief, millennials do want to stay in one job. In fact, 78 percent of millennials said they prefer a stable job instead of looking for a new position every few years.

However, millennials are leaving their jobs for more money, for job growth, for better work-life balance and to pursue work that is more aligned with their passions, as cited by research from Boston College.

So what can employers and professionals do to address these issues and engage millennials? There are a number of ways Clark Schaefer Hackett has successfully engaged younger employees, thus lowering the turnover rate.

By offering a clear career path, millennials feel they are a part of the company’s future and culture. According to a recent Gallup poll, 87 percent of millennials say professional development or career growth opportunities are very important, and could be a piece of the puzzle for retaining talent.

In order to attract millennials, companies should focus on building a culture of relationships through mentoring and coaching. Intentionally building key relationships between employees and clients, all employees, not just millennials, will thrive in the workplace. As a result, people are coming to work because they want to be there, not just to receive a paycheck.

Another key aspect in professional development is access to clients. People want to know their work is valued, and in the accounting industry, clients matter. Developing communication skills alongside technical skills in client relations is another way to engage millennials not only in day-to-day jobs, but also a reward for a job well done.

Finding a work-life balance is equally important to millennials. Millennials are a generation who want to work to live, not live to work. Showing up and working hard is important, but a workplace that understands the value of downtime is equally important.

“A lot of millennials have baby boomer parents and watched their parents live to work and not be at home,” says Self. “They saw parents work themselves to death and hate their jobs. Instead, millennials want to see growth and appreciation for what they do -- and not burn themselves out in the process.”

Engaging the largest generation of workers will take an investment of time and resources. The investment can be a hard pill to swallow because many professionals live in a charge-by-the-hour industry. However, recognizing the investment and reward is key to developing professionals who not only want to work, but want to work for you.

“There is no better time to start investing in your future employees and consider shaping your company for change,” Ruhenkamp says. “Now is the time. If you haven’t focused on changing your culture now, you’re going to fall behind real quick.”

If you’re interested in attending the Millennials: Recruit, Engage, Develop Seminar on June 14 in Troy, you can visit www.micpa.org/MREDF to learn more. The seminar will cover topics like choosing attracting and recruiting employees, developing millennials and engaging employees. The cost is $375 for attendees and additional discounts are available for each additional person from the same firm.

Did you know?

  • According to Gallup, 55 percent of Millennials are disengaged in the workplace. (Could this contribute to “job hopping”?)
  • Engaged millennials are 64 percent less likely to say they will switch jobs if the job market improves in the next 12 months.
  • The top three work-related fears for Millennials: getting stuck with no development opportunities, not being able to realize their career goals and not finding a job that matches their personalities.
  • Poor engagement is likely the root of the problem. According to Gallup, only 29 percent feel engaged in the workplace, which is what likely leads to poor performance and job hopping. 
Source: MICPA
Source: MICPA

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