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Reading Time: 5 minutes
Reading Time: 5 minutes

While Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) lean towards financial security, favouring monetary rewards, Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) have shown a stronger inclination towards non-material benefits and acknowledgement beyond financial incentives. As the newest addition to many workforces, understanding and implementing strategies to effectively integrate Millennial and Gen Z employees and what drives them is not just important, it’s crucial for the continuity of your business.

Understanding The Millennial and Gen Z Workforce

With Millennials and Gen Z making up a significant portion of the modern workforce, it’s important to understand their unique characteristics as we strive to achieve an integrated culture in the workplace. Millennials, having witnessed the digital revolution’s infancy, blend traditional work ethics with a penchant for flexibility and work-life balance. On the other hand, Gen Z, born into a world of smartphones and social media, values authenticity, immediate feedback, and even greater flexibility. By tailoring your management approach to these preferences, you can create a productive work environment that harnesses the strengths of both generations.

Inspiring Your Workforce

More than just the money

These two generations are actively pursuing more than just financial rewards. They crave impactful work, are enticed by opportunities for self-improvement, and aim to enter careers that offer them a sense of purpose. To engage these generations, employers must focus on creating roles that not only offer fair remuneration but also provide avenues for personal and professional growth. By tapping into motivators such as autonomy in organisational culture, continuous learning opportunities, and a healthy work-life harmony with flexible working arrangements, employers can attract and retain talent in these generations.

Tapping into digitalisation

Millennials and Gen Z’s are deeply integrated with technology, which means that traditional rewards don’t hold the same appeal. For example, rather than a physical certificate, they might appreciate being recognised on a company-wide digital platform or through a personalised email from their manager. Organisations are encouraged to adopt technology-infused methods like these to motivate their team. This digital-centric recognition aligns with the preferences of younger employees and propels organisations towards a more modern approach to acknowledging achievements, fostering an environment of mutual growth and adaptation. Digitalisation is also inherently more sustainable, another factor both generations place importance on.

Personalised approach

These generations value rewards that are tailored to their preferences and accomplishments. To meet these expectations, employers should introduce reward schemes that empower employees to select what best resonates with them. For example, professional development opportunities, invitations to industry events, exclusive holiday packages, dining vouchers, or reward points redeemable across a range of services could be used to create meaningful and motivating recognition, as it reflects an understanding of individual desires.

Ongoing recognition

Millennials and Gen Z’s have a strong preference for immediate rewards and feedback – a trend that can benefit all employees, regardless of age. Moving beyond the confines of traditional performance evaluations, organisations are encouraged to create an environment rich in feedback and acknowledgement. Real-time recognition, openly celebrating achievements and ensuring regular interactions between employees and managers can cultivate a vibrant workplace.

Appreciation for Collaboration

There’s a high premium on collaboration and a sense of community in the workplace. These generations cherish acknowledgements from their peers and value feeling connected to their work environment. To tap into these values, organisations can promote social recognition initiatives that allow employees to offer and receive accolades from their colleagues. These programs not only cultivate a culture of positivity and teamwork but also boost morale and forge stronger bonds among team members.

Nuances for These Professionals in the Accounting Industry

The younger generation’s inclination towards risk-taking is a new characteristic that stands in contrast to the traditionally risk-averse nature of those in the accounting industry. While this trait can make it difficult for employees in this generation to reconcile with strict frameworks, it is possible to create a balance between this instinct and the crucial foundations of this profession by encouraging calculated risks within the boundaries of accounting regulations.

Conventional accountant employment has also changed with the digital era. Today, we see a shift towards an increased requirement for business analysts and data capturers, emphasising the ability to formulate insightful reports. Employers should assess their younger employees to identify whether they hold these strengths and utilise them to create meaningful contributions to the overall value chain. Assigning projects in this way helps build the sense of importance and fulfilment this generation craves.

Are You Cultivating The Ideal Work Environment?

The evolution and adaptability of any profession, particularly accounting, is both crucial and unavoidable. While navigating the nuances of integrating younger generations into your team can pose a challenge for many organisations, the secret to effectively managing Millennial and Gen Z employees lies in maintaining an open, flexible, and supportive approach. By tailoring strategies to meet the distinctive needs and traits of these dynamic generations, you can create a work environment that attracts and retains talent.

Words of caution

The preferred reward systems of the Millennial and Gen Z generations introduce potential PAYE risks regarding the taxation of such reward systems.  All rewards granted to or paid to employees give rise to a taxation event, on which PAYE arises either on the monetary value of the reward or on the deemed/market value thereof.  Employers are cautioned to remain vigilant of the PAYE aspects of such reward systems. Reach out to your MMS contact for advice on how to apply the relevant PAYE legislation to avoid SARS exposures on new generation employee reward schemes.