In the accounting field, each generation of professionals encounters a new set of challenges and offers a unique array of skills and attributes. For over a decade, industry experts have conducted extensive research on the impact of millennials in accounting. Recently, however, many have begun to turn their attention to the skills and challenges that pertain to members of Generation Z, who will enter the workforce in large numbers during the next few years.
For aspiring executives in this field, it is essential to understand the key differences between millennial and Generation Z accountants in order to recruit, train, and retain top professionals. As Generation Z accountants enter the workplace, discover what sets these professionals apart and learn how they aim to make an impact in accounting.
Generation Z Accountants Are More Tech-Savvy Than Earlier Generations
As they have climbed the ranks in the accounting field, millennials have made a name for themselves as tech-savvy professionals who thrive on using digital applications. Though millennials have certainly been tech pioneers in accounting, members of Generation Z are poised to take the use of technology to a new level.
As the Journal of Accountancy explains, generational expert David Stillman considers members of Generation Z to be the first true digital natives. Most people in this generation have used mobile phones and smart devices for their entire lives, so incorporating technology into their workflow is second nature. Stillman suggests that accounting firms should take a proactive approach to managing Generation Z’s tech-related needs, as many aspiring accountants will expect to have access to the most cutting-edge technology in the workplace.
Both Stillman and generational expert Curt Steinhorst suggest that this close relationship with technology has the potential to cause friction in the workplace. Accounting firms that encourage digital employee interaction and keep face-to-face conversations brief may have the most success at retaining Generation Z accountants. In addition, firms that embrace visual over written communication are more likely to resonate with these aspiring accountants.
Generation Z Accountants Are Wired for Multitasking
Millennial employees have struggled with the positives and negatives of multitasking throughout their time in the workforce. Writing for the American Institute of CPAs, Dawn Wotapka suggests that Generation Z accountants may not have to teach themselves to multitask, as they are already wired to juggle numerous tasks simultaneously.
In fact, their need for constant stimulation could prove challenging for accounting firms that have traditionally encouraged employees to focus on intensive projects for hours at a time. When incorporating Generation Z accountants into the workplace, managers may have to allow these new employees to devise workflows that work for them. Doing so is more likely to keep Generation Z employees engaged and allow them to perform at their best.
Generation Z Accountants Demand Customization
For longstanding accounting firms, one of the most substantial challenges ahead could come in the form of Generation Z’s demand for personalized experiences. In many ways, this comes on the heels of millennial employees’ drive to pursue their passions at work. As the Journal of Accountancy explains, Stillman has determined that most members of Generation Z embrace what he calls “hyper-custom.” After having the opportunity to personalize everything from their shopping experiences to designing their own college majors, Generation Z employees expect customized career paths, too.
As aspiring professionals who have earned a master’s in accounting online know, this field offers a wide range of career opportunities. Since accountants may choose to work in corporate or non-profit environments in a range of industries, this flexible field could be ideal for Generation Z employees.
Writing for Accounting Today, Amy Vetter suggests that some Generation Z accountants may even take this desire for customization one step further. As some of the most entrepreneurial professionals yet, Generation Z accountants may even launch their own firms that enable them to design their ideal career paths.
Generation Z Accountants Need a Blend of Work and Life
Many accounting firms have reevaluated their corporate environments and their benefits packages to offer the type of work-life balance that millennials have increasingly demanded. When Generation Z employees enter the workforce, however, firms may need to reconsider work-life balance yet again.
As the Journal of Accountancy states, most Generation Z employees will be seeking a work-life blend instead of a work-life balance. Rather than carving out separate times for work and life, Generation Z accountants are more likely to want to do both at all times. New policies and procedures may be necessary to ensure that both entry-level employees and managers meet employer expectations while still feeling fulfilled at work. After all, as Accounting Today explains, Generation Z employees have an even stronger drive than millennials to do work that they find meaningful.
Generation Z Accountants Are More Pragmatic Than Millennials
Despite their drive to seek out work that they believe in, Generation Z employees are likely to approach their careers with more pragmatic viewpoints than their millennial peers. As Steinhorst explains via the International Federation of Accountants, this practical perspective may stem from Generation Z’s early exposure to the Great Recession.
After experiencing difficult financial times so early in life, Generation Z accountants are more likely to be willing to take entry-level positions and put in the necessary time before climbing the ranks. As the Journal of Accountancy explains, Generation Z employees are also likely to seek financial stability through a large paycheck. Accounting firms that prioritize benefits and positive corporate culture over salaries may need to reevaluate how they attract and retain employees as Generation Z candidates enter the workplace in full force.
To prepare themselves for the many challenges that executive positions in accounting may present, aspiring managers should consider equipping themselves with the skills and education they need to lead effectively. Visit the Maryville University Online Master of Science in Accounting program to learn how an online master’s in accounting degree could open the door to a myriad of career opportunities.