Welcome back to our series of articles on the Accountex event at the ExCel centre in London. Accountex gives decision makers in the accounting and finance sector an opportunity to discover new products and services, network with peers, and listen to industry experts (from leading names such as CIMA and ACCA) in workshops and seminars. In part one we discussed what we learned from the ‘Can Women Have It All?’ seminar; today we will be discussing a round table workshop the College participated in on the hot topic of millennials.    

The ‘Hot Topic Round Tables’ were a new addition to Accountex this year; round tables bring accounting students and professionals and business owners together to have an open discussion about a topic they’re interested in. These workshops differ from the seminars at Accountex where a keynote speaker usually does the majority of the talking. The millennials round table was led by Guy Pearson, Co-Founder and CEO of Practice Ignition (a cloud-based proposal software), and the main talking points were the expectations of millennials today and the difficulties business owners face with this younger generation in the workplace. As there were just two millennials present on a table of ten in the workshop, it so happened that they faced the brunt of the questions from the rest of the table.   

What’s Important to Millennials?   

In comparison to Baby Boomers, it was said during the round table that millennials are much needier as a generation. What’s more, they aren’t afraid to push boundaries and challenge the way things are done. The business owners on the table highlighted that, in general, millennials want flexible hours, work perks, to wear their own clothing and seek regular recognition for their work.  

One workshop attendee said that, although millennials can bring new skills into the workplace (thanks to the progression of technology, for example), they can also be “a pain to work with.” He complained that millennials often expect too much of a business and they fail to respect the way it has been run for many years before them. He asked: “Why should companies bend to accommodate millennials when the rest of the employees are satisfied with what’s already in front of them?” One individual replied that a business can often benefit from considering the requests of millennials. In regards to flexible working, they said by allowing employees to work at a time when they feel most productive can often result in higher quality work for the business.   

Reeling Them In   

The company owner with the most experience at the table vented her frustration that the younger generation seems to get distracted easily; she explained to the group that she often finds some of her younger staff scrolling through social media or playing games during working hours; the business owner asked the table how she should deal with this issue. Interestingly, on this subject, Pearson commented that he didn’t mind his employees getting distracted in the day – just so long as their jobs were completed prior to this. However, another workshop attendee responded that each employee is likely to have different responsibilities, so it’s difficult to find a cut off point that works for everyone. One millennial explained that, rather than ignoring the situation, if the business owner were to give the distracted employees a warning if they were caught wasting time during working hours, this could deter them from doing so again in the future – “millennials will only do what they feel they can get away with.”  

The final concern brought up by the table was that millennials tend to jump from job to job; the business owners wanted to know how to get them to stay put. Ideas brought to the table were: give them fun jobs to do such as working with social media and the latest technologies (it so happens that the younger generation may be more open to these kind of roles in comparison to say, Baby Boomers), find out what they want their career path to look like, and let them know they’re appreciated.

Have Your Say  

If you’re a millennial, business owner, working in the accounting and finance industry or studying accounting, we’d love to know your thoughts on the younger generation when it comes to work. Perhaps you’d like to give your opinion on one of the topics brought up during the millennials round table, or maybe you’d like to give your two cents on a hot topic of your own; we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.   

Enjoying reading our takeaways from the 2018 Accountex event? Keep your eyes peeled for our next article titled ‘How the Role of Accountants is Changing – Your Real Role and How to Get There’.   

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If you’d like to study accounting, UKCBC are hosting two AAT open days in August 2018 on Wednesday 8th and 15th. You can register for one of the open days by heading to UKCBC’s events pages.


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