Originally published in Small Business Today

Talent and client expectations in the workforce are changing significantly. Millennials continue to make up a majority of the workforce and their need for work-life balance is driving innovation and influencing the future of the industry. In fact, an article by ADP shows that work-life integration is changing the workplace. Companies now need to integrate two halves of their employees’ life: work and outside interests such as family, friends, hobbies, and health. There is a shift to explore work and life as one integrated and holistic experience.

Younger employees are now looking for a career path that supports their “lifestyle,” rather than the traditional approach of finding a job and then building a life around it. This is why a firm’s culture has become a key part of attracting and retaining talent. While this is a paradigm shift for many companies, how an accounting firm approaches and adapts to the changing expectations of work-life balance will be a direct influence on the firm’s future success.

Attracting Talent Through a Strong Mission and Vision

Because the war for talent is so intense, firms are defining and promoting their culture even more than ever before. A Harvard Business Review article states that the top predictor of workplace satisfaction is not paid grade — it is the organization’s culture and values. As a result, the hiring process has shifted and more people are now self-selecting into accounting firms and finding firms they culturally align with rather than those that may provide the best pay.

To attract people whose values match their own, a company needs to define it’s “Why” so that employees can articulate it in the marketplace. Additionally, each individual also has their own “Why”, which is a filter through which they make choices – at work and at home – that lead to fulfillment.

With this in mind, a firm can create a much more specific profile of the person that fits its company’s culture. This streamlines the hiring process and aids in retaining and developing talent, reducing HR cost and supporting employee satisfaction.

People are drawn to companies that reflect their own values. This is a shift in the accounting profession. Now more than ever, employees are expecting work to be a part of their whole, balanced lives.

What Today’s Talent is Demanding

With this generational shift, every organization has to change the way it is looking for talent, allowing talent to work and the tools it is giving employees to work with. The smartest and most innovative people out there are now controlling their own path to success.

It is a firm’s job to appeal to workers who want flexibility, and firms should be intentional about defining and communicating their culture. Whether its workflow, training, culture, expectations of clients or expectations of other team members, it is important to make sure expectations are communicated and aligned.

An article in Forbes states that perhaps the most underrated desire of modern-day employees is the desire to work with a purpose. How is the company contributing to the greater good of society? Companies must ask themselves about their commitment to flexibility, health and wellness programs, and diversity initiatives.

Looking Towards the Future

A company’s current and future employees are looking at the information they see about a firm’s culture on Glassdoor, and they need to see a firm is making a brand promise they live up to.

Companies should be intentional about defining and communicating their culture. Firms that define what type of employee they need and want and hire talent that aligns with their core values are building a foundation for continued success and growth.

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Tom Barry

Tom Barry, CPA, believes in building a successful life one day at a time. He does that by leveraging technology to create a flexible schedule that allows him to be a father and husband in addition to fully committing to his career at GHJ, where he has worked since 1997. Tom’s role as GHJ’s Managing…Learn More