Emily Brantz

At almost every event I attend with friends, the topic of work always seems to creep in. They share their stories and frustrations about their offices or their bosses and all too often I wish there was some discreet way to anonymously send articles about NextGen talent and clients, creating a better culture, or feedback articles to my friends’ bosses or companies. Instead, I have been given this not so discreet forum to share some of the common frustrations in the workplace from my fellow Millennials.

As a disclaimer to the reader, all names and identifying information have been altered.

What is with all of the paper?

Don’t get me wrong, I like to read my books in book form, not on a Kindle or iPad and don’t even get me started on my love of paper post-it notes. But, is it really necessary and cost-efficient to be using so much paper? For example, this is how my friend Sally completes her taxes every year:

  • Sally gets a tax packet from her CPA that contains approximately 20 single-sided pages filled with a question via USPS.
  • Sally completes the tax packet and returns the packet via USPS.
  • Sally plays phone tag with her CPA for a few days due to questions in the tax packet
  • Her CPA sends back Sally’s filled in tax document and an agreement to file electronically
  • Sally signs the tax document, agreement to file electronically, and a check and sends it back via USPS certified mail to her CPA
  • Her CPA submits her taxes electronically and sends a copy of all of the documents back to Sally

Is anyone else hearing the trees cry or is it just me? If it is just me, then consider the efficiency and inconvenience all of this paperwork and sending documents via USPS must be. From the NextGen point of view, I beg you to consider an online secure document sharing platform, like ShareFile, DocSend or Google “Secure File Sharing.” Even shifting the 20-page single-sided tax packet alone to the cloud would cut down on the cost to send the packet via USPS, the headache of the packet getting lost in the mail or on someone’s counter, and Sally’s CPA would receive the information sooner. Plus, how convenient would it be for Sally to scan the W2 and other documents to her CPA or for her CPA to simply email Sally the questions so she could respond at a convenient time instead of playing phone tag?

Which leads me to…

We like technology and the efficiency it brings

While some of us older Millennials remember a time when the internet wasn’t in the home, the sounds of dial-up and our beloved Oregon Trail game, many do not. As we have grown into adulthood, technology has been changing at a rapid pace and we love it. It has provided us knowledge, entertainment, and the opportunity to remove inefficiencies at our fingertips whenever and pretty much wherever we want it. In fact, 85% of Millennials access the internet from their phones to conduct research, read the news, for entertainment purposes and sharing of information, according to the Gallup’s How Millennials Want to Work and Live report.

Take my friend Kristin, who has about a 45-minute commute in Austin, TX.  Her husband also has a 45-minute commute, but he is responsible for picking up the kids from daycare on his way home. Often, Kristin is tasked with getting the weekly groceries. She chooses to grocery shop after work during the week, but she kept forgetting the grocery list at home and calling her husband on the commute home with two talkative kiddos was difficult and they were always forgetting something which resulted in multiple trips to the grocery store. Enter an app (AnyList if you are curious) that allowed both her and her husband access to the grocery list on their phones and to add new items. Think of how the simple act of adding a shared document or spreadsheet to your work processes would eliminate the inefficiencies of emailing a document back and forth or printing and passing around a document for edits. If your firm is on Office365, I recommend checking out Teams where you can share documents electronically and, also, edit them in the platform without having to email them to someone to compile. Or, transfer your pen and paper notebook to OneNote. It can sync across your personal devices to ensure you have your notes handy when you need them, and you can use the search function instead of flipping through the pages.

We don’t care if it has “always been done that way” or “if that is how it was when you were at that age/level/position”

We also used to write by candlelight and used a horse and buggy to get around. When Millennials hear you say that it has “always been done a certain way,” we hear that you are not willing to change and not willing to acknowledge a possible improvement to a policy or procedure. It also tells us that if we aren’t willing to “fall in line” or follow a rule that we might as well leave for a different position or company. I am begging you to never say “it’s always been that way” again. Instead, ask your NextGen “what do you suggest,” “do you see a way that process could be improved,” or better yet, invite them to sit on a committee to help them shape your firm’s policies and allow their ideas for change to be heard.

We aren’t scared to leave

In Gallup’s How Millennials Want to Work and Live report, 60% of millennials reported they are open to new job opportunities which is “15 percentage points higher than non-millennial workers.” I have several examples of my Millennial friends leaving a position, like my friend, Eric, who is constantly changing jobs and getting hired at even higher pay than the position he left. He knows his skills are marketable and that he can receive the same treatment at another company. He says, “I spend 40+ hours a week at work going above and beyond. I don’t mind it. However, if my boss starts to impede on my home life or is unreasonable about me taking my kid to a doctor’s appointment, I’m out. I know that I can always find another job.” Or another friend of mine, Mary, who had a high paying job but then leadership started enacting what she thought were unethical HR policies, like announcing that no one would receive top performance ratings after they had already been given or asking for people to come into the office when they were out on leave due to a serious illness to do a “few hours of work.” She raised her concerns and was ignored. So, she put in her two-weeks notice without a new job lined up because she refused to work in a place that would treat their employees unfairly. It is common knowledge that it costs more money and time to train a new employee than to retain a current employee. Please, listen and pay attention to your NextGen employees who provide you feedback or insight into what they are seeing having a negative impact.

As clients or customers, we have evaluated your firm, business or company before contacting you

According to the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, 26% of Millennials said they “don’t trust business leaders as sources of reliable and accurate information.” This means we may be viewing your website and social media accounts about what you do and your mission or goals, but we are also looking at your online reviews and asking our own personal network about their experiences with you. We are not afraid to speak or vote with our wallets, so if your customer service or your societal impact isn’t up to par, you might be seeing your NextGen clients depleting. However, if you have great customer service and the drive to do what is right, even when no one is looking, you might attract the 42% of us who have begun or furthered a business relationship because we thought you were making a positive impact on society or the environment (Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019).

As a Millennial, I know we are collectively coming in and disrupting the way businesses and firms have been historically led. I know that change can be difficult and scary but as more Baby Boomers retire and leave the workforce if you don’t have NextGen leaders at your firm and practices that attract NextGen clients, who will be left to continue your legacy? Invite us to the table, listen to our concerns and change with us.

Emily