While some of the Gen Zers are already in the workforce, employers and senior executives such as CFOs need to take a closer look at how they can harness the potential of these young professionals.
Gen Zers’s primary concerns are around job security, well-being and mental health, offering a wakeup call to employers who need to show they care, said ACCA recently when releasing results of a survey of 9,000 18 to 25-year-olds in the report Groundbreakers: Gen Z and the future of accountancy, jointly published by ACCA and IFAC (the International Federation of Accountants).
- While Gen Zers are broadly convinced that businesses have a positive impact on wider society (69%), they think there is significant room for improvement from business leaders.
- They see accountancy as an attractive career – providing long term prospects and portability with access to jobs that span internationally and across industries – but it’s also clear this generation questions business’ integrity.
- They believe businesses continue to prioritise the maximisation of returns to investors (66%) over taking care of customers (53%) and employees (47%).
- They are also less convinced that business leaders have integrity and do what they say (41%) and fewer of them believe businesses are currently pulling their weight in fighting climate change (39%).
ACCA and IFAC said that the findings of this global research are relevant for employers regardless of the sector, and that meeting this generation’s needs and addressing their concerns will be essential to thrive.
For the accountancy profession specifically, its central purpose to create sustainable value for organisations while acting in the public interest place it in a unique position to harness this opportunity, the organisations pointed out.
“Leaders of Professional Accountancy Organizations (PAOs), global network firms, and industry, not only have an opportunity to welcome this new generation of accountancy leaders into our organisations, but to actively learn from them,” said Kevin Dancey, CEO of IFAC.
Though no one knows exactly what the future may hold, one thing is for certain — Gen Z accountancy professionals have a critical role to play in our future, he added.
How to harness Gen Zers' potential
The report suggested the following ten ways for employers to harness the potential of Gen Zers.
1. Tap into Gen Z’s digital mastery: Astute enterprises are seeing Gen Z as fantastic ambassadors and early adopters to encourage the rest of the business to digitally transform.
2. Think “intrapreneurship”: Create a culture where young people can bring their entrepreneurial thinking and capabilities to fruition within the relative safety of an organisation.
3. Use social to recruit and recognise the power of peers: Beyond social media, activities such as using Gen Z ‘brand ambassadors’ who are authentic and believable on university campuses to encourage peers to be interested in organisations can pay dividends.
4. Be authentic and listen to Gen Z: Gen Z values authenticity and sees it as a key factor in making initial decisions about joining an organisation.
5. Focus on well-being: Gen Z is concerned about their well-being, so employers need to support this.
6. Align organisation purpose with individual development needs: Organisations need to articulate what they stand for, their purpose and impact on wider society. Gen Z is keen to understand how the organisation makes a difference and what their contribution could be to the vision of the enterprise.
7. Create collaboration opportunities across the workforce: To help Gen Z progress, make them part of the bigger picture.
8. Reward on outcomes not inputs: Employers need to focus on outcomes and the results achieved, rather than hours spent on a task.
9. Give continual feedback: Create a culture of continual feedback and acknowledgement — this is essential in engaging Gen Z as they’ve grown up in a world of instant communication and rating opportunities through digital.
10. Rethink learning: Make it short and visual to encourage Gen Z’s learning.