Top 3 Things Millennials Want in Their Workplace (Hint: It’s Not $$$)


The competition to obtain top talent across accounting firms has proven to be ongoing and tough. While recruiters are vying for motivated, ambitious, and well-rounded candidates, they’re also dealing with a shift in mindset of what a successful workplace looks like to the modern day millennial.

And since millennials comprise a large part of today’s workforce, it’s important to reflect their desires and needs in both the recruiting process and firm’s overarching mission and goals.

To get a better idea of how recruiters can make public accounting, and their firms, more appealing to this generation of talent, we spoke to Karina Khadaran. A past recruiter for the Big 4 and a millennial herself, she tells us what the top 3 things recruiters need to address in order to appeal to millennials and eventually have them on board.  

1. Work/life balance

The number one thing that millennials are looking for in any type of workplace is a good work/life balance. This includes flexibility with scheduling, hours, and telecommuting. This gives them the ability to pursue equally important personal and familial goals alongside their career instead of putting them on the back-burner. 

While a good work/life balance wasn’t very plausible in the past for public accounting, firms today are realizing the importance of this factor. They’re bringing on more initiatives to give their staff the ability to work from home more frequently if they aren’t dealing directly with clients, and allowing them to schedule their own billable hours to accommodate various life events. 

Although candidates know that they still have to put in their hours in a demanding profession, they also want to know that there’s flexibility in where and when they put in these hours without being stigmatized for it. 

2. Firm Benefits

It’s a given that every recruiter will talk about firm benefits at one point or another with the candidate they’re interested in hiring; however, understanding what benefits are most appealing to millennials will make this conversation that much more successful. 

Millennials want a robust benefits package that includes options for health insurance, vision, dental, etc. But what they’re also looking for are other major causes firms are supporting, such as volunteer programs, women’s initiatives, or employee wellness programs, to name a few. Millennials are motivated to find meaning in their work and in their organization’s overall vision to make the world a better place. Firm benefits that emphasize and encourage employees to partake in some or all of these programs are more likely to attract millennials who value organizations that participate in corporate social responsibility. 

3. Investment from day 1

Millennials want to feel like a firm will be invested in them from day 1—and that begins with the first time they speak to a recruiter at a Meet the Firms or any other event. Therefore, recruiters need to tailor each interaction accordingly and also highlight what candidates can expect to gain from working at their firm. 

For example, assigning a mentor to a candidate is great, but mentors are normally assigned to several people, making the interaction much less personal and frequent. If a recruiter can truly have one person assigned to each candidate who will invest in ensuring his/her professional goals are met and are on track with their career, this would be much more beneficial for both the candidate and the firm. 

Other areas of investment include professional development training programs to keep candidates up-to-date on the latest industry changes/trends, or to further their areas of expertise. When it comes down to it, recruiters can utilize investment as a big hand to play since it encompasses so many different areas to help candidates get to where they want to be in their careers. 

We often hear it stated that by the year 2020, almost half of the workforce will be comprised of millennials.

While recruiters are already aware of how millennials are changing the expectations of an ideal employer, there’s still many more opportunities they can take advantage of to ensure that they’re making public accounting a more appealing place to be. In doing so, the chances of retaining top talent won’t only improve, but also help change the preconceptions that public accounting has.

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