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Attract Gen Z accountants in 2021

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If you’re looking to recruit this year, our panel of experts have got you covered. Move over millennials, here’s how to attract Gen Z accountants.

26th Apr 2021
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After a rollercoaster of a year, recruitment is back on track. While 2020 saw a pause in the process, 2021 will see a shift back to recruitment in the workplace.

As the millennial generation are now approaching middle-age, businesses are becoming keen to invest in Generation Z. But what does the Gen Z accountant want out of their career?

Our panel of experts joined forces in last week’s Accounting Excellence Talks to share their insight into the world of Gen Z, and how you can look to recruit these young accounting professionals this year.

The good news is there’s no shortage of fresh accountants seeking work. Senior partner and head of international at Kreston Reeves Andrew Griggs usually receives 40 applicants a year, whereas this year he saw 1,600 apply.

What do they want?

“People leaving university are actually demanding that they’re pushed hard,” said PJCO Chartered Certified Accountants' Peter Jarman of Gen Z. “They see this as part of their career progression.”

Accounting Excellence award winner Sian Kelly has also noticed that these applicants are hungrier for work than previous generations, making them easier to mould and thrive in different accountancy roles.

“In their lifetime, they’ve experienced 9/11, the financial crisis, and now the pandemic. None of the millennials will have experienced that in their career path. Therefore, they’re looking for stability within their lives,” explained Griggs.

As well as a greater work-life balance, the community, cultures, and values of an organisation are important to Gen Z accountants, he added.

Soft skills

Panellist Peter Jarman told AccountingWEB that he’s been scouting soft skills over technical skills. This is in favour of the Gen Z market, who hold more value in interpersonal and social qualities in the workplace.

“When we interview, we select based on their academic abilities,” he said. “And then we have a chat with them, which isn’t necessarily about accountancy.”

As accountancy work evolves, people skills are becoming increasingly important as more firms are interpreting information rather than just processing information, Griggs added. With Gen Z being so technologically literate, there is more space for focus on rapport and relationships with clients and staff.

Sian Kelly, the managing director of Inform Accounting, has even started using a personality profile test when surveying applicants, which helps establish which roles are best suited for which people.

Utilising technology

These social strengths also relate to Gen Z’s skills within technology; they are more willing and able to communicate with their clients speedily and frequently.

“They’re really using the technology to set the standards of the firm ,” explained Jarman. “My generation is following them. We believe in what they do. They’re setting a much higher standard than we were some time ago, and that’s all led by technology.”

In Kelly’s firm, new recruits start straightaway by learning all about the tech they use before tackling anything else.

Attracting Gen Z applicants

“From a culture point of view, they want variety and excitement, they don’t want routine,” said Griggs.

Gen Z are also keen for feedback, he added. They’re looking to feel included in what’s going on, and appreciate a greater level of communication from management about the level of work they’re delivering.

There is also a big emphasis on the wellbeing aspects of an organisation; Griggs suggested implementing wellbeing ambassadors within your firm to better equip you for helping team members better manage their mental health in the workplace.

Wellbeing in the workplace also ties into a flexible approach to work with this generation. Griggs explained that Gen Z are more than capable of getting the work done, but they want to do it on their hours and terms.

“I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re chained to their desks,” said Kelly. “I don’t care what you do as long as you do your hours and you do a good job.”

Over the course of the pandemic, Jarman also adopted a flexible approach where members of staff could choose when and where they work, allowing more balance in their personal lives.

“We’re never going to get back to the point where we’ve got a set desk for every person. I don’t think we need that anymore,” Kelly added. “It’s going to change the working world.”

Catch up on this episode of Accounting Excellence Talks here to find out more about attracting and recruiting Generation Z accountants within your firm.

Replies (2)

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By Hugo Fair
26th Apr 2021 21:34

I'm sorry but, although this could've been quite an interesting insight into changing generational moods and drivers (especially if combined with the potential impact of changing working practices post-pandemic), all we end up with is a hotchpotch of soundbites - that are often contradictory.

Viz:
".. they’re looking for stability within their lives,” explained Griggs ... is followed further on by “From a culture point of view, they want variety and excitement, they don’t want routine” said Griggs.

It is possible to achieve both simultaneously but only for a few very rare well-rounded individuals who happen to find the perfect role in an organisation with an equally well-rounded boss.
Now you can call me cynical but that's almost a definition of never.

So are this generation (as if they were a homogeneous whole) really starting from a position almost certain to lead to disappointment ... or is this just another set of soundbites with as much relevance as some Astrologer's predictions?

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By Russell51
28th Apr 2021 09:12

While I think there's value in understanding the attitudes of different generations, I'm not sure this is all Gen Z - 9/11 was 20 years ago, so no one under, say, 25 would have particularly experienced it. The financial crisis hit millenials more than most, with leaving school/university directly into it.

I do think that the younger generation have been taught that companies will offer you no loyalty, and so don't expect to stay long term in one place. This can be difficult if you actually want to train and retain your staff!

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