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Working With Millennials

Managing Millennials

By Olga LaBrie, J.D., LL.M.

 In this day and age, employers that specialize in advisory and consulting services will soon face the inevitable reality of needing to adapt to the new values dictated by millennials. According to various studies, millennials are rapidly entering the job market and will represent approximately 40 percent of the American workforce by the year 2020.

With baby boomers starting to retire, Generation X now finds itself in managerial positions in consulting firms. However, the new executives are yet to start speaking the language of millennials. Gen X finds millennials flakey and having a “one foot out the door” attitude, while millennials think Gen X-ers resistant to change and slow to react to the demands of the today’s globalized world economy.

Wise employers understand that to keep up with market demands, they need to not only attract the top millennial talent, but also need to learn how to motivate these new employees.

 It is important for employers to know what inspires millennials to do well in the workplace. Young professionals do not view their work environment in the same way as generations before them. According to the Intelligence Group, unlike Gen X, largely motivated by money and titles, 88 percent of millennials prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one. Not surprisingly, 74 percent value flexible work schedules and 88 percent require “work-life integration.” This is not to be confused with work-life balance; in today’s world it is hard to distinguish where work ends and life begins. This does not make the new generation less ambitious, but millennials prefer flatter company structures where their boss is more of a mentor or a coach.

At PKF Texas, we deal with consulting firms in different countries daily. That’s how the Cubesters became interested in how millennials in other countries get incentivized, and how employers retain and motivate them compared to employers in the United States. We will explore the retention subject in the next issue; for now, we wanted to share what makes our peers tick in different organizations around the world.

We sent out questionnaires to young professionals in firms in Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and Ireland. The responses were almost overwhelmingly similar:

  • Dutch millennials at Van Oers Accountancy & Advies and Bol Accountants view themselves as more adaptable to the rapid technological developments than their bosses, hence more valuable and more mobile.
  • Young professionals at Irish firm Russell Brennan Keane and Australian Prosperity Advisors Group say that an idea of not only moving companies, but also moving countries and often continents, frequently comes up in discussions with potential employers.

Although the idea of always being on a lookout for greener pastures has become a modern day reality, all young professionals agree that career progression and training opportunities at their firms are significant retention factors, even more so than attractive salary and benefit packages.

Autonomy and flexibility are undoubtedly some of the most important benefits employers can offer to millennials. Canadian millennials value trust afforded by their firm, Fuller Landau, to them, and they want their ideas taken seriously and accounted for when choosing future direction for the firm. Although millennials prefer environments that allow them to work whenever, wherever and very independently, they also value collaboration and team-oriented cultures that let them create their own inside network within the firm.

Overall, we found that in the consulting world that yields itself to flexibility and independence, employers can benefit greatly from appealing to the millennials’ values and ambitions. If millennials feel valued, they will go to great lengths to accomplish the task at hand and meet employers’ and clients’ deadlines. 

Olga LaBrie, J.D., LL.M., is an international tax manager in the Tax Department at PKF Texas. She may be reached at 713.860.1456 or