Managing Generation Z

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Like many accounting firm leaders, you may have just started to invest more time into building a business that is attractive to Millennials as both a place to work and grow. While these concerted efforts are necessary to ensure the ongoing success of your practice, there’s a new generation on the horizon to consider in your plans. Generation Z, already outnumbering the millennial generation in size, is the newest demographic to enter the workforce.

While many struggle to agree what defines this age group, most would agree that it applies those born after about 1996. What’s surprising about this group is that early indicators seem to show they don’t share as many similarities with millennials as one might think. Despite being digital natives, members of Generation Z appear to more closely resemble Baby Boomers. This new generation will be filling graduate roles sooner than you think. Here’s what you need to know to manage them:

They’re digital and mobile natives
The Internet was already in broad use when members of Generation Z were born. It’s the first generation to be raised in the smartphone era, and many of them have never known a world without social media. With an expectation that all the resources they should ever need will be available in the palm of their hand, members of Generation Z will expect to be provided the latest technology tools at work. Like millennials and Baby Boomers, members of Generation Z believe that in the future email will be a thing of the past. Implementing instant messaging tools such as Slack for in-house communication will become more of the norm.

They want offices
As the millennial generation began to gain a larger share of the workforce, companies were encouraged to become more remote work friendly and adopt advanced technologies to suit their preferences. Research has found that Generation Z workers seem to lie somewhere between millennials and Baby Boomers when it comes to desired work location. Those belonging to Generation Z value face-to-face communication more so than those before them, so then it might not come as any surprise that 57 percent want a physical workspace. That said, nearly half want to be able to work in an office as well as the option to work remotely.

They’re entrepreneurial and determined
Raised in the gig economy, people of Generation Z are predisposed towards employment opportunities where they can forge their own path. Compared to their millennial peers, those of Generation Z are more likely to want to start their own business. If this is true, we might see a larger proportion of future accounting graduates starting their own practices or with a stronger inclination to pursue partnership more aggressively at existing firms. One-third of Generation Z expect to be in management roles within five years of graduating and another quarter expect to be well on their way. They’re of the mindset that they will have to work hard to achieve these lofty goals, even more so than generations before them; perhaps a byproduct of growing up during economically tumultuous times.

They want to believe in the work and feel supported
Early indicators show that, when it comes to sticking around at a company, members of Generation Z are more motivated by the potential to advance, but also meaningful work. Millennials want to make a difference in the world, but their successors are even more so determined. Like millennials, those of Generation Z value a workplace that is transparent, ranking honesty as the most important quality for a leader. By inviting them in on any decision making processes, and showing them how they’re made, you will help them feel part of the firm’s direction.

In the next few years, we’ll see more and more Baby Boomers retiring. By staying informed of what future generations are looking for, you can hire the talent that will help future-proof your firm.

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