Daniel Teacher: Workplace Transformation and the Next Generation Employee
Daniel Teacher examines the likely aspirations of the next generation and the part agile and flexible working, fast working technology, communication and work culture plays when it comes to this month’s Alternative Insights topics of Workplace Transformation and the Next Generation Employee, highlighting how accountancy practices could consider transforming the workplace for a generation that lives and breathe technology…
What does the next generation employee look like in your industry?
Members of the next generation – Gen Z – are innately digital. They know nothing different to having instant access to the internet or a smartphone, it has always been the norm. This demands a certain level of technological expectation as they move into the world of work. This makes me question – how do accountancy practices transform the workplace for a generation that lives and breathes technology?
Let’s dive into some of the workplace aspirations and demands I expect from the next generation…
Agile flexible working: being tied down to legacy systems is a thing of the past. Despite practices being aware of this, so many are far from delivering a truly digital environment. The next generation expects the ability to be productive from any location on any device. They want the independence to work at a fast pace and be on the move.
Fast working technology: Gen Zers expect innovation and the latest technology, they want quick and efficient ways of working. This generation has an abundance of digital and social insights to offer employers – without good quality technology, how can you attract and retain a generation that doesn’t have their basic needs supported?
Communication: growing up with being able to speak to anyone instantly through technology has given young people an exceptional degree of connectivity. As they know nothing less – having one seamless central place for communication and collaboration is a must-have.
Work culture: this generation are particularly socially conscious and whilst agile working is important, face-to-face is necessary, so feeling like part of a team, social responsibility and encouraging social events is vital when it comes to keeping Gen Z happy.
How do we solve the problem of workplace transformation when the next generation employee no longer fits into the historical models such as striving for partnership?
Combining these cultural shifts inevitably leads to generational changes in attitudes towards established incentivisation structures historically used in professional services. For example, I am beginning to see young people less concerned with striving for traditional partnerships due to an evolving mindset to what the end career goal is. They are ambitious but the goal may be more short term. Gen Zers are less concerned with the traditional hierarchical structure of working through the ranks to become a Partner but are striving for roles that deliver job satisfaction and meaningful impact. This is why you often see a high turnover of young people coming in and out of jobs. So how do practices embrace this without a complete upheaval of traditional structure?
Blending the generation gap: by bridging the digital gap. Technology and innovation must be well managed and introducing change management into a digital transformation programme to support the workforce through organisational change will be fundamental to the success of any future project. Most IT projects fail because the human element is ignored!
Introducing more diverse roles: with new technology such as automation and AI becoming a new necessary aspect to practices remaining competitive, practices need to embrace a wider structure that encourages innovation. Having a wider platform of departments that isn’t solely focussed on the outbound services, like audit or personal tax, but looks at new skills such as data and AI will help transform practice models to suit the new world. These areas now require more energy and focus than they are often given but they can no longer be an afterthought or a reactive hire. There needs to be a culture that cultivates careers around these new required skill sets.
Workshops for the future: by hosting workshops that encourage the new generation to discuss what they believe the impact technology will have on the workplace and how much value they place on job roles, this will enable the leaders of today practices to understand what they need to consider for now and into the future.
Is it an exciting time for the accountancy profession if we look for opportunity rather than an obstacle.