Why practices must engage millennials

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Lucy Cohen from Mazuma Accountants explains why your firm needs to cater for millennials, and how you can do it.

This term millennial is thrown around a lot in the media. But what is it? Or more to the point, who are they?  In short, it’s a generation. The term Millennial is broadly used to describe the generation of people who were born between the early 1980s and late 1990s to early 2000s.

I am a millennial and, in writing my book The Millennial Renaissance, I have dissected what it means to be a member of this generation, and how the world we live in requires us to forge a path that differs greatly from the generations before us.   

Millennials are the generation that (based on research done by William Strauss and Neil Howe) are more civic minded. We are confident, social, team orientated and use technology to interact and communicate with the world around us in a vastly different way to previous generations.

The millennial generation is arguably the most socially minded and tolerant in history. We are the generation that ushered in equal marriage laws, elected the first black president, created Facebook.  And yet there is underlying tone to media coverage that we are lazy, entitled and narcissistic.

Millennials very much get a rough ride. According to the media we are all work-shy, emoji-loving, suit-bashing, avocado-worshiping socialists who just need to grow up and start acting like adults.

Here’s the thing though - we are adults. And this is fast becoming our world to shape as we choose. Experts predict that by 2020 millennials will make up 35% of the global workforce. A further 24% of the workforce will be Gen Z.

In short, the youth are coming for you, and you’re going to need to know how to work with them.

So what does all this mean if you want to engage with millennials?

It means you have to speak their language.

As a business owner, millennial, and employer of millennials, I see how different our lives are to that of previous generations. Expect to see them sitting at their desk for set hours of nine to five? Those days are long gone. And if you want millennials to engage with you, then you need to get on board with that idea.

In terms of workplace and brand engagement there are a few things that my generation really value. If you want your firm to deal successfully with this generation then you need to embrace the following ideas:

Flexibility

In my book I talk about the concept that people are now always a little bit at work and always a little bit at home. Smartphones, the internet and the lifestyles we lead means that we are simultaneously in work and in our personal lives most of the day. Schroedingers workplace, right?

This is a situation that works for me as an employer very well. I don’t mind my staff popping out for appointments or interacting on social media during the day as long as they are happy to work from home a bit in the evening - when it suits their family life and schedule. It’s a win-win.

Millennials really value the culture of an organisation - both in terms of ones they work for, or ones they choose to hire services from. So if your firm’s culture fits in with their lifestyles and values, you’ve established some common ground that makes you a more attractive proposition to them.

Social media

Get over it, it’s here to stay. As a business that means that you have to be active on the major social media channels if you want millennials to hire you.

One of the first things I do when I look for a new supplier is check their social media and how they interact with their customers online. If they are not present or their tone is too “corporate”, I move on.

Authenticity

That said, it’s really obvious when the social media tone of a company doesn’t match its brand.

I’ve had experiences where I’ve called up a company whose social looked great, but when I get through to the actual office it’s really clear they’ve just hired a firm to do their social for them.

Don’t have a young and on trend online presence if your office is staffed by boomers who still talk about fax machines. That’s a huge millennial turn off. And it makes you seem a bit, well, fake.

Work/life balance

Millennials value this over money. Let’s face it our generation got screwed over big time when it comes to being able to accumulate wealth in our working years. Own our own homes? Have a final salary pension? To coin a phrase: LOL.

So we value our time and interactions over our cash which is actually great news for businesses who want to sell to millennials. Offer value for money and a solution to a problem and we’ll hire you rather than try to do it ourselves.

Sure, we may not be the generation who are great at DIY. But we’ll pay you for time savers and added value.

Communication

We’re a generation who like to be kept in the loop. Businesses need to answer emails the same day, tweets within a couple of hours and phone calls straight away.

We’ve grown up accustomed to communicating and receiving answers almost instantly. So if your firm wants to engage with us, we need you to have systems in place to keep us posted on things.

Thankfully our generation also invented a load of great technology that can help you achieve that. Get to grips with scheduling social media content, email automations and SMS services in your business. 

About Lucy Cohen

Mazuma

Lucy Cohen is the co-founder of 2019 Accounting Excellence finalists Mazuma and the author of The Millennial Renaissance.

Replies

Comments for this post are now closed.

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16th Jan 2018 09:49

Apparently Millennials are the generation with the highest rates of Anxiety and Depression.

I wonder if this idea of always being part at home and part at work and generally expecting instant answers to everything is major part of the problem ?

Switch the damn phone off and relax. You only get one life.

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16th Jan 2018 11:01

Are " Millennials" the ones with a chip on their shoulders,
wanting everything now and blaming everybody but themselves for what they do and do not have.
They certainly do not have any loyalty, other than to the latest iPhone/gadget.

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16th Jan 2018 12:31

"In short, the youth are coming for you, and you’re going to need to know how to work with them..."

I don't think anyone born in 1981 (or 83 for that matter) can be considered as 'youth'.

Accountants need to connect (engage) with all of their clients and prospective clients and there are numerous different ways of doing that.

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16th Jan 2018 17:09

I not sure I agree with much of this article. What proof have you that your generation is more civic-minded? I am 47 and most people I know are civic-minded.

I regard one of the civic duties and to be civic-minded is to use your vote and not blame everyone else for not being able to gather information. It has never been easier. It was not rocket science we managed to do this when we were young. Your generation was not very tolerated when they started blaming old people for a result when they did not get out of their bed and vote. The result was not what I wanted but I never dream of blaming others if I did not vote.

You are also the generation that does not tolerate anyone who has different views from yourselves and appears to have fewer friends who have a different view from them.

It is also the generation that has a huge amount of depression. Now bully behaviour always went on and will always go on sadly, but Facebook bought it new levels.

All generations have their good and bad points. If someone is good , kind and respectful whether they work for you or they are a client. I will work to help their business no matter what age they are. I do support the young and do talks at schools, but your generation is no different to the ones before.

"We’re a generation who like to be kept in the loop. Businesses need to answer emails the same day, tweets within a couple of hours and phone calls straight away.

We’ve grown up accustomed to communicating and receiving answers almost instantly. So if your firm wants to engage with us, we need you to have systems in place to keep us posted on things."

Can you confirm you are the generation that are willing to pay for this level of services and do not expect to get this service for free? If you want this level of service you need to pay for it or be happy that your accountant does your accounts whilst not concentrating answering emails to someone who is been impatient and inconsiderate.

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By Jdopus
16th Jan 2018 17:09

Fairly sick of reading articles by social media obsessed self-promoters about how my entire generation behaves and what the entire generation believes. Almost as sick as I am of reading people whinging about how we're all collectively narcissists.

Trying to draw conclusions about individual people's personalities or even general group personalities and how they can work in a business environment using generation as your classification is about the most inane and useless exercise I can think of.

Still, I suppose she has a book to sell.

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16th Jan 2018 20:01

Thanks for the comments everyone.
Part of our mission at AWeb is to encourage discussion and debate about different aspects of running a practice, from different perspectives.

It's fine to disagree with parts (or all) of the article, but I'd prefer it if we could keep the tone of the comments respectful.

Hopefully the majority of readers have found this useful, or at the very least thought-provoking.

All the best,

Tom

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to TomHerbert
17th Jan 2018 04:18

Hi Tom . Is is good to have a discussion and perhaps I was a bit harsh, however the article was very harsh of other generations. It was after all the generation before me that invented computers and set up everything that happens today.

Personally I do not think we should pigeon hole or stereotype any generation because my post was tongue and cheek stero typing back .

I don’t for second think one generation are all the same . Good business people will always be good business people no matter what generation they are .

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to sarah douglas
17th Jan 2018 13:24

You were not too harsh, your comments were correct and no doubt resonated with most of us.

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By Albasas
17th Jan 2018 01:06

Millennials, or so called, for all their claimed emancipation from every social ill and complete tolerance of everything as made by their self appointed leaders, seemingly don't like criticism or democracy either. Its all around. Lets not get started either on the dangerous state our brave new world currently finds itself in. What I know about accountancy, taxation and book-keeping they don't need as it can be networked or outsourced, exploited even, from elsewhere, anywhere, so they delusionally think. This is the cut and paste generation that doesn't notice, or is duping itself into the fantasy that it has friends when most aren't really on social media and online stores that don't keep any goods or stock of their own online etc etc. Britain's Got Talent and X Factor template types who have taken entrepreneurial talent and turned them into robotic factory fodder. On glass ceiling zero hour flexible contracts, optional of course, naturally. Coming soon to an accountancy and taxation practice near you? Practices that don't have any actual specialist staff providing services and are all but just manned by waffle merchants? No that's lawyers surely of course..HMRC might be said then to be Millennials ahead of the curve with MTD and personal tax accounts and suchlike? I'm no Luddite but surely digital technology is currently in the hands of authoritarian liberal type agenda setters? What are the so called Millennials planning to do to redress the balance. Hand over more power?

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17th Jan 2018 11:17

So much arrogance in this piece, I don't know where to begin on commenting.....

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to SpreadsheetUser
17th Jan 2018 14:28

Unfortunately its symptomatic of so many articles on this website. Sensationalist and arrogant (trying to be thought provoking but not written well enough).

We need balanced articles which are well written.

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By Albasas
to SpreadsheetUser
17th Jan 2018 20:07

As something of a 'futurist' myself back in the day, I feel qualified to comment. I was hoping too that this Millenial Movement would make good modernist optimistic type bedtime reading. Alvin Toffler like. Instead, I got nothing new that say any of the postwar generations haven't already discovered. Eventually, yoof sucks! Everything is relative to the technological age that we live in. (Even your hardly groundbreaking spreadsheets?). Visionary this was not, curmudgeonly and grumpy, over the aging process- well yes. Many of the points made are blatantly obvious or just patronising us all in the extreme cradle to grave. Every generation blames the one before stuff only back to front here, as in emerging. When what the newbies need is just their own identity not more of the same. Obviously. Other than that we will all rub along nicely as before I'm sure.

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17th Jan 2018 15:46

Long live the Grey Pound.

It is the Millennials who will need to cater to our needs. We have and continue to have high disposable income.

I think the writer, for her age, is a success. Unfortunately, the article does not reflect her in a good light. It is badly written and not thought through. It is insulting and not thought-provoking.

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By Astral
17th Jan 2018 22:12

I work with quite a few millennials, I find there are some who are conscientious, hard working, polite, able to to think for themselves, others think the world owes them a living, spend their working hours texting, snap-chatting and whatsapping their mates and incapable of independent thought. More worrying that group also tends not to take responsibility for anything. It's a real blame and tell-tale culture they foster.
I'm a bit surprised the OP feels Millennials ushered in all those changes, many of them took decades to bring to fruition, they didn't happen overnight, and the hard work and battles were done by generations well before this one.

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18th Jan 2018 08:35

I am a bit torn with this article as technically just make it into the millennial category but never thought as myself as one although am confident, work all hours and built a good social media profile from day 1 of starting my practice but then any person of any age can fit that description to!

I have quite a few millennial clients and most are pretty good clients however many of them expect the world and are very price sensitive, winning them as clients in the first place can be quite a challenge, they are always the first to ask for discounts or tell you your price is to high (believe me it's not) but once on board, they really are not to bad, I've only had one millennial client who literally expected me to answer every email of his instantly, asking questions I'd long ago answered and not being prepared to pay for extra parts he wanted me to do for him and needless to say, he is no longer a client of ours any longer.

I've never thought to identify them from all of my clients and treat them differently as I feel that is unfair to my other clients but I am curious about the book as I do think it is important to look at how to cater for future clients and I think there is opportunity there for firms who do want to attract them.

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18th Jan 2018 23:29

By giving "young people" a cool name does not make this concept a new thing.

Surely since the beginning of time all businesses have had to invest in young people so the old could teach them their skills and in turn when they were older they would pass their knowledge on again.

I don't get this concept that we all change to fit in with this next generation.

I started work at 16 with a local 4 partner firm, no one changed how they did things to suit me, I had to fit in quickly with their way of doing things, and I am the better person for it. Basic things like turning up for work in time, dressed accordingly should not need to be trained. The people work to the needs of the business the business should not need to alter to suit a new starter.

Most businesses still work around office times, and so staff need to respect that and be available for those time, not turning up for work at 11 because they don't do mornings.

Whilst working in hammocks might work for Google, I don't think accountancy is ready for that yet.

So yes I agree everyone should invest in youth but don't pander to them, there is far too much wrapping up in cotton wool, and everyone is too afraid to upset anyone that it is getting in the way of cracking and making some money, and slowly suffocating modern business.

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