Managing millennial and Gen Z accountants

Millennials represent the largest workforce in the U.S., and by 2025, Gen Z will make up 27% of the labor force. With the number of college students enrolled as accounting majors hitting record numbers, there will be more accounting professionals from younger generations in the years to come.

This raises the question of how to manage millennial and Gen Z accountants. The best way to answer this is to understand their unique characteristics and preferences. While every individual is different, many do share similar generational traits.

Millennial and Gen Z accountants want to do meaningful work

Millennials have been dubbed “Generation Why” because of their strong sense of purpose. Similarly, Gen Z professionals care about work that matters.

How to manage them:

  • Illustrate how the accounting profession can contribute to social good
  • Show the big picture to help them feel more engaged at work
  • Even for simple tasks, explain the value and how they contribute

They care about their workplace well-being

Both generations have experienced the highs and lows of working from home during the pandemic. They expect a degree of freedom and work-life balance. At the same time, they want to avoid burnout and care for their physical and mental well-being.

How to manage them:

  • Because virtual CPAs and remote accounting are becoming more common, consider a hybrid arrangement where they can work from home on certain days
  • Invest in employee wellness through programs and employee benefits

They want their accounting firm to share their values

Millennials are an activist generation, and Gen Z shares similar values around environmental sustainability, social justice, and corporate ethics.

How to manage them:

  • Show how your tax and accounting firm is upholding and practicing environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) in an authentic and purposeful manner
  • Include them in developing frameworks and processes for the accounting profession and contributing to ethical standards and sustainable growth
  • Prioritize diversity and inclusion in hiring and managing accounting talent
  • Involve them in corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs through volunteer work

Millennial and Gen Z accountants need clear and frequent communication

Because they grew up with social media, Millennials and Gen Z appreciate frequent, consistent feedback. They also want clear direction in their work and proper recognition for their achievements.

How to manage them:

  • Communicate clearly and often when giving instructions or offering feedback but do not micromanage them
  • Get to know them on a more personal level to build trust
  • Validate their efforts and contributions to motivate them

Millennial and Gen Z accountants want to grow in their careers

Exposed to video tutorials and online courses, younger generations love to learn on their own, but they also expect to be coached and trained at work.

How to manage them:

  • Give plenty of opportunities for professional development and upskilling
  • Use different modalities such as classroom, virtual, and self-paced online training like Checkpoint Learning
  • Set up a mentorship program where older, more experienced CPAs can coach and train younger employees

They want to make a difference in their accounting firm

Millennials and Gen Z embrace the idea of being influencers, and they take that ideal to the workplace. They want to make a difference in their organization and in society at large.

How to manage them:

  • Involve them early in projects and client interactions to let them see how they can make an impact
  • Help them view their work as trusted advisers rather than just number crunchers and record keepers
  • Allow them gradual agency and autonomy to bring out their entrepreneurial abilities

The future of your firm lies in the younger generations of tax and accounting professionals. Managing them well and investing in their career growth will contribute to your ongoing success.


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