How to build a next-generation workforce


Does your firm want to attract and retain talented staff – especially younger employees? Here are five ways to help make your workplace millennial-friendly.

For most accounting and advisory firms, their most valuable asset is their people. But attracting exceptional performers – and getting them to stay – isn’t always easy. In fact, a recent industry study shows that finding quality staff is currently among the top three challenges for Australian accounting firms.1

Part of the problem seems to be around meeting different generational needs, particularly those of millennials – those born between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s – who by 2025 are set to comprise 75% of the world’s workforce. 2

According to Deloitte’s latest Millennial survey, this demographic expects far more from their employer than a decent pay cheque. If their workplace isn’t meeting their broader needs, they’re not afraid to leave it for another one that will.

So what are some practical steps your firm can take to engage, develop and retain the next generation of workers?

1. Celebrate diversity

An attractive salary might entice millennials to join your firm in the first place, but an inclusive workplace culture is more likely to encourage them to stay. According to Deloitte’s Millennial survey, 69% of respondents who work for organisations that value diversity intend to stay with their employer for at least five years – compared to just 27% who work for less diverse organisations.

To help create an inclusive workplace, it might be worthwhile identifying local organisations or institutions that could be potential sources of diverse talent. By welcoming people into your firm from different backgrounds who have varied life experiences, you’ll also be gaining new perspectives and points of view. As well as enriching your firm’s culture, a diverse team may even be able to offer fresh insights and new ideas for driving your business forward.

2. Offer flexibility

Flexible working arrangements are also a key driver of satisfaction for millennials. Deloitte’s survey found that businesses who offer flexibility are more likely to retain staff than those who want their employees working Monday to Friday from 9 to 5. In fact, 55% of millennials in flexible workplaces say they intend to stay with their employer for the long haul, compared to only 17% who work for companies that are more rigid. 4

So if you’re not already offering your employees options like job sharing, working from home or flexible start and finish times, now might be the time to start.

3. Be constructive

As with every generation, millennials are keen to work for firms who appreciate what they can contribute. What’s more, many younger workers are particularly attracted to workplaces that value traditional soft skills like good interpersonal communication and critical thinking. 5

One way you can help your staff feel appreciated is by providing – and accepting – open and constructive feedback. This should start at the top, with senior staff using feedback mechanisms to solve problems and continuously improve the business. If your team members know they can confidently voice their opinions, they’ll also feel more invested in the future direction of your firm.

4. Show you care

Millennials are eager to make a difference in the world, and they favour firms that contribute positively to the local and global community. Firms who can demonstrate that they’re motivated by more than their bottom line are likely to become employers of choice for younger workers.

There are many ways your firm can make a socially responsible impact, from offering your advice clients ethical investment options to using suppliers who are committed to environmental sustainability.

You could also allow time in the work schedule for your staff to give back to the community; for instance, through involvement in local charities and fundraisers or by providing pro-bono services to people in need. Aside from energising your staff, supporting the community can also do wonders for your brand.

5. Be ready for the future

Finally, millennials are well aware that automation and digitisation will continue to radically change the workplace. But rather than fearing a robot takeover, they believe technology will enhance their future careers. What does worry them is not having the right skills to work with new technology – and they expect their employers, rather than traditional study, to provide the training they need. 6

That’s why it’s important to keep up with the latest tech advances so you can invest in the right software and systems, and the right training to match. Not only can this help you boost efficiency and serve more clients, it will also make your firm more attractive to the best and brightest young talent.





1 CommBank, Accounting market pulse, June 2018.
2 EY, Global generations report, 2015.
3 Deloitte, Millennial survey, 2018.
4 Deloitte, Millennial survey, 2018.
5 Deloitte, Millennial survey, 2018. 
6 Deloitte, Millennial survey, 2018.