As a millennial in management at a Top 20 accounting firm, I have been fortunate to have a different perspective than most leaders before me when it comes to generational differences.
I can honestly say I share many values of old and those of the new workforce. Whilst speaking to both small and large firms it became clear that the issue of generational differences is a universal concern and still needs attention.
Values are like fashion trends. They seem to come in waves. A recent article by Amy Vetter discusses that the emerging workforce (Gen Z) shares more in common with the baby boomers than millennials. This is a curious notion as we have discussed for years how Millennials were changing everything and what we valued was inherently different from previous generations. I admit I wanted to work from a coffee shop, travel and be remote.
The appeal of a physical office
After a little time out of the office, I quickly realized I felt a sense of accomplishment having my defined work location and space in the office. I could see how I fit into a firm’s structure better and see my value. In an industry where transparency has always been a challenge this is important to create the connection between firm and employee while fostering a sense of purpose.
Please note Gen Z and Millennials do share a core set of values that are unique to us. These are the need for life experiences, meaning, and a passion for what we do. At this point, you might be asking what does Sweetwater have to do with this, let me tell you.
Once in a century
Recently we had a total Solar eclipse come through the US for the first time in nearly a century. For me, this was an event I wanted to experience after seeing so many images my entire life of the view during totality. I decided on Saturday before the eclipse on Monday that I was going to travel the 11hrs to see this event in Sweetwater TN. I only had one problem and that was that on Monday I had client calls, work and deadlines.
Because of the technology we have in place and the openness of the team I was able to remain productive during my trip. I also was able to meet some amazing individuals and see an amazing event unfold before me. The next day I was back at my desk and had no need to use a PTO. While on this excursion I was in constant communication with my team, sharing images and discussing business.
A firm of today needs to recognize that the leaders that are here (millennials) and those that are coming have some new values and want to have flexibility in their work relationships. We want to know how we fit into the big picture relating to the detailed work we are doing, we want the ability to advance and most of all we all want a direct level of honesty during all of this. Making some minor adjustments in communication and policies can ease your firm’s transition and retain and attract better talent.
Perhaps it’s time to ask yourselves what are your employee’s Solar Eclipses?
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