February 7, 2017

MBAF's Wolfgang Pinther discusses how MBAF is attracting and retaining millennial talent with Crain's Miami.

Whether you think millennials are ‘snowflakes’ or a valuable resource for ushering your company into a more innovative future, this generation of workers is rapidly expanding into the workforce.

How are local companies responding to this new generation of employees?

According to Pew Research Center statistics, millennials, defined as workers aged between 18-34 years old, made up about 35 percent of the workforce in 2016, surpassing baby boomers (aged 51-69) as the dominant generation in the workforce. Pew Research Center predicts that by 2030, millennials will represent over 75 percent of the workforce.

A common trait associated with millennials? They don’t tend to stick around for too long.

According to Forbes, the average span of employment for a millennial at any one company is only two years; millennials, unlike Gen Xers or Baby Boomers, aren’t afraid to look elsewhere if they feel they’re not being fulfilled. With such a significant numbers in the workforce having a penchant for jumping around, many employers are wondering how to attract and retain this generational talent pool – and these Miami companies think they might have an edge.

According to Wolfgang Pinther, the director of marketing at public accounting firm MBAF, attracting and retaining millennial talent isn’t just about focusing on the generation itself. “I think it’s a two part program – educate staff on working with millennials and offer the kinds of benefits that are attractive to younger workers,” Pinther said.

In 2015, MBAF brought in outside consultants to develop a program for a multigenerational workforce. Rather than focus solely on catering to millennials, the company saw a need for educating more senior workers on how to work with and respond to millennial work habits.

“We’ve implemented an annual principal summit, with a theme of leadership and communication,” said Pinther. “We bring in outside speakers who host different sessions on employee engagement and how to communicate with different generations.”

By hosting these summits for the firm’s leaders and taking the time to survey their employees, MBAF has found that workers of all ages appreciate having more flexibility.

“Flexible schedules aren’t the most common in the accounting industry,” said Pinther. “We have a program through the summer and winter. You can either do Monday through Thursday and take a day off, or come in early and leave early, or leave late and come in late.” Pinther claims it’s a huge selling point for potential employees, as their one of the only local firms to have this type of policy in place.

Another way to draw in millennial talent? Build an office they’ll never want to leave, said Luciana Carvalho, a senior vice president of Blanca Commercial Real Estate.

“A growing number of businesses, ranging from tech companies and traditional law firms, are using a new open environment and modern amenities to attract millennials,” she said. “Companies are really changing the way they’re thinking and asking themselves how they can update the workplace and recruit this population.”

Carvalho, who assists a number of clients with finding and leasing their dream workspaces, said she’s noticed a marked change in what her clients want when scouting for an office.

“The majority of our clients now want to be in an urban core, because it’s what millennials are after,” she said. “They want their offices to be modern, they’re really changing the way they’re retrofitting the building by putting in recreational areas where employees can interact and exchange ideas, they’re asking for a yoga studio or a gym.”

The real estate development trend for building transit-oriented developments that cater to millenials seems to extend to offices too, said Carvalho. “Our clients want their offices to be close to the metrorail, and some are even providing transit passes to employees,” she said. “They’re thinking outside the box and I think the millennials are really pushing that.”

Resisting the urge to label millennials as entitled and choosing instead to focus on adjusting their own expectations hasn’t been as difficult for senior leaders as one might think.

“I get emails all the time from our partners sending out articles with tools and training for dealing with millennials,” said Pinther. “A lot of the principals and senior level management are embracing it in a positive way.”

And for MBAF, the results of implementing more millennial-focused training and flex programs has been more than stellar. The company is a finalist in the South Florida Business Journal’s 2016 Best Places to Work and the feedback from prospective employees has been positive.

“We’ve grown and are continuing to grow, and we want our employees to be happy,” said Pinther.

Click here to read the article on Crain’s Miami.