If you were in the workforce in 1990, you were probably surrounded by a lot of baby boomers. GenXers were just starting to work, and many millennials were still in grade school.
A quarter of a century later, baby boomers have begun to retire, passing management responsibilities along to GenerationX. But millennials have started their careers now, too – and they’re a force to be reckoned with. In fact, a study by Deloitte revealed that by 2025, millennials will account for 75 percent of the global workforce.
No matter the age of the employees in your accounting department, today’s workers have expectations of their workplaces that differ from what was standard in the 1990s. Are you able to accommodate them when it seems appropriate?
A Different World
The World Wide Web hadn’t even been invented when we entered the final decade of the 20th century. Mobile phones were for phone calls, and wireless connections were in their infancy.
All of those things have altered the way we work and our divisions between business and pleasure. And having grown up in the digital world, many millennials expect that their managers and coworkers will embrace a new corporate culture as readily as they would.
You don’t have to tailor your business to match the desired work style of the 30-somethings you supervise. But the values they and some of their older counterparts bring to the workplace are worth considering. Here are some suggestions.
1. Provide feedback quickly. Our collective attention span is shrinking. We’re used to touching a screen and getting an immediate response. So don’t wait too long to either praise or correct. Don’t save everything for the annual performance review. The instant feedback you provide should give workers opportunities to grow, and lead to improved productivity
2. Anticipate interaction. Are you considering making significant changes in your accounting workflow? Before you’ve carved them in stone, let the employees that will be affected contribute to the development of these modifications. Listen more than you talk for a while. You’re still the decision-maker, but it’s good for both you and your staff to work collaboratively.
3. Try not to micromanage. The “helicopter parent” phenomenon has led some of today’s young workers to distrust too much over-their-shoulder direction. Show your employees that you trust them – unless they give you reason to withhold your confidence in them.
Of course, considering that your employees are working with the very backbone of the company (its finances), there are limits. You’re ultimately responsible for major errors like, for example:
- Reports that don’t reflect the business’ fiscal status.
- Unhappy customers who are being invoiced incorrectly and angry vendors who want their bills paid.
- Salespeople who can’t sell because inventory counts are off.
- Downtime caused by insufficient familiarity with your accounting software or manual bookkeeping process.
But employees who feel trusted are often more attentive to the tasks they’re assigned and require less supervision.
4. Acknowledge that employees may not stay as long as they used to. The 35-year worker is becoming scarce. You likely won’t retain your accounting staff for decades. If you keep that in mind, though, you may be more driven to serve as a mentor who can help workers approach their potential with you before they move on.
5. Take advantage of employees’ abilities to multitask. Everyone’s jobs can be boring sometimes, but there are ways to minimize this. Cross-train some of your bookkeeping staff if data security doesn’t prohibit this. This also serves you by reducing downtime due to absences, and helps prevent fraud. Doing one kind of task leads to boredom and apathy, which can in turn lead to errors and dissatisfied employees. You don’t want high turnover in an accounting department.
6. Try to add some company time to the “life” part of work-life balance. Social networking has made many individuals feel more like a part of communities. It’s made them more aware of social causes, and perhaps more interested in local civic involvement. Capitalize on your staff’s networking skills. Encourage them to work together toward a goal outside of work that can be enjoyable as well as fulfilling.
If these seem like basic, sound management tips, and you’ve been practicing them, you’re a progressive manager. Having trouble training staff and managing your accounting workflow? Let us help. Contact our Entrepreneurial Services Group at 816-743-7700 and tell us how we can be of assistance.