Bruce Martin, CEO of tax software supplier Tax Systems, sheds light on the potential implications of this generational shift.
Born between 1997 and 2012, Generation Z is set to have a major impact in the workplace and will soon account for around 30 per cent of the workforce.
Raised in the digital era, this newly emerging cohort of workers has very different expectations of work compared to previous generations. Baby Boomers prioritised job security, Gen-X wanted a greater work-life balance, and Millennials (Gen-Y) searched for workplaces that represented their passions and values. All these generations shared a common desire to make work part of their identities.
Generation Z, however, has several distinctive requirements when it comes to choosing where to work. Having observed burnout, time poverty and economic insecurity, they are prioritising a work-life balance with their passion projects more likely to be extracurricular than work-based.
But do not underestimate what could be interpreted as a lack of commitment to the workplace – their tech-savvy minds and objective attitudes are highly valuable in today’s workplace. Catering to their needs will be essential if the finance industry is to capture the talent needed to sustain an increasingly data driven and digital future.
Getting off the blocks: the initial engagement
Given their profound level of digital literacy, it would be foolish to expect to engage with Gen-Zers using traditional methods. Think quick and easy digital hiring processes that streamline how they apply for jobs or internships, and schedule interviews using their mobile devices; this generation prefers to interact with more ‘casual’ communication methods in the early stages of the recruitment process.
In fact, they view the recruitment and interview process critically, judging it to be reflective of working at that organisation. With this in mind, employers should ensure their recruitment methods incorporate the next-gen tech and interactions these candidates know and love.
Whereas previous generations may be attracted to companies with strategies for CSR (corporate social responsibility), ESG (environmental, social & governance) and diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI), this isn’t the case for Gen Z – these programmes are considered to be a minimum standard for this generation, and non-negotiable. Jobs that fail to present and live up to the values as advertised, will fail to attract and retain top talent within this generation, who will not hesitate to call it out and hold them to account.
Tech-savvy workplaces score highly with Gen-Z
Gen-Z were born into a world with internet and information available to them immediately on portable devices. A world that is changing so rapidly, and which in turn, has shaped them into fast-paced and highly adaptable workers.
Understandably, Gen-Z employees want to work for companies with a tech-first mindset and expect to keep updating their skills and knowledge, with no two days being the same. For them, making use of technological advancements in a purposeful way is a normal and intuitive process. This means they will expect to encounter digital workplace practices that eliminate drudgery.
Highly focused on engaging in purposeful work, they will prioritise working for companies that are deploying smart technologies, like AI (artificial intelligence) and automation, that make their work exciting. Organisations should be using technology to complete more mundane tasks, so they can focus their time and efforts on higher value, more interesting assignments.
Capturing the next generation
The tax industry is ripe for transformation. Adopting the latest tax technology is becoming a mission-critical priority for accounting teams everywhere. Indeed, HMRC’s drive to make tax digital has motivated many firms to fast forward their investment in software and tools that both automate time-consuming administrative work and reduce the need for manual data collection and validation.
Alongside ensuring that tax teams can deliver consistent, accurate and timely tax filings in accordance with HMRC’s MTD requirements, embracing technologies like AI, robotic process automation (RPA), as well as analytics and data visualisations will be essential for capturing the next generation of tax professionals.
Gen-Z employees could just be the ones to take tax transformation to the next level. If there is a more efficient way to get a job done, the Gen-Z worker will be the one to find it.
Keeping Gen-Z workers for the long term
Up and coming talent expects technology and automation to be in place that frees them to engage in more meaningful work and value highly the opportunity of learning even more advanced technology on the job.
Indeed, skills acquisition is a top priority for Gen-Zers who continually seek to extend their capabilities and will vote with their feet if they don’t encounter a personalised development programme that is designed with internal career progression in mind. They are also acutely aware that keeping their technology skills and soft skills honed and constantly updated will be important for keeping pace with the industry’s future needs.
As technology re-engineers work processes and activities, Gen-Z workers know that the business contribution accountancy and tax teams make to the organisation is diversifying and evolving too.
Future tax professionals will need to be skilled in a broad array of specialisations that include business development, project management, data analytics, strategic planning and more. If any generation is going to achieve this and take the industry to the next level, it will be Gen-Z.