Attention FAE Customers:
Please be aware that NASBA credits are awarded based on whether the events are webcast or in-person, as well as on the number of CPE credits.
Please check the event registration page to see if NASBA credits are being awarded for the programs you select.

Want to save this page for later?

NextGen Magazine


Strategies for CPA Firms to Manage Their Multigenerational Staff

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Sep 20, 2023

In a difficult market for talent, given the trends that the profession has experienced in recent years, CPA firms can improve their chances of retention by enhancing their knowledge of what motivates their employees, from every generation, to do their best on the job, a recruitment executive wrote in CPA Practice Advisor.

To help CPAs to increase that understanding, Steve Saah, the executive director of Robert Half’s finance and accounting permanent placement practice, offered a few details that employers need to know about the professional preferences and expectations of baby boomer, Gen X, millennial and Gen Z workers. These tips were based on research that the firm conducted for its e-book, Examining the Multigenerational Workforce.

"The urgent message for CPA firm leaders is this," Saah wrote. "It’s already tough hiring and retaining CPAs, and the risk of losing staff at all levels of experience is high. But you can improve your chances of holding onto valued talent by increasing your understanding of what motivates all your employees, from every generation, to work for your organization and perform at their best."

As members of Gen Z desire flexible work opportunities, firms that don’t offer such arrangements will have a hard time attracting and keeping workers of this cohort. Saah recommended permitting all staff to work a hybrid work schedule if they choose, which can strengthen employee morale.

Fifty-five percent of millennials surveyed said they want autonomy to make decisions, supplemented by feedback from their manager, Robert Half’s research found. This cohort’s desire for feedback does not mean micromanagement, so he urged being “timely and specific when providing constructive criticism or praise to millennial employees, but also [being] strategic.” He advised managers to “look for opportunities to help millennial professionals feel empowered to build skills and advance their career track.”

Almost one-third of Gen X professionals feel underpaid, he wrote, “significantly higher than other generations we surveyed.” In addition to making sure that the firm is paying competitive salaries, he wrote that, in the absence of raising salaries for deserving employees, firms should consider other rewards. such as bonuses.

Finally, almost three-quarters of baby boomers reported they were unconcerned about whether artificial intelligence (AI) will affect their jobs, the lowest level of concern among the four generations, perhaps because they are closest to retirement. But one-third of them also say they are unsure how they would react to AI affecting their jobs. In response, these employees should be helped to prepare for the future of work, with relevant training opportunities to keep skills current, he wrote, and change should be managed as new technologies are adopted.

Saah concluded by advising managers to be empathetic leaders in order to be successful. “Empathy is the key to understanding what other people are feeling, thinking and understanding,” he wrote. “Applying empathy in the everyday management of your CPA practice will help you to support and nurture your entire workforce—and build trust with employees from every generation.”