Archive for the ‘Recruiting and Retention’ Category


Did the PwC Chairman read my Accounting Today article?

September 15, 2011

In October of last year I published an article in Accounting Today magazine titled “Managing the Millennials…Firms must deal with their changing expectations.”  In the article I discuss how accounting firms are finding themselves stuck between the way the business has been run for decades and the changing expectations of Millennials as they consider their long-range career track. I made the argument that :

“Accountants and auditors are valued precisely because of their deep knowledge and expertise, so radically altering the business model is unrealistic. Yet the looming demand for accounting services and the shrinking talent pool give urgency to finding ways to accommodate the expectations of young workers.” 

Millennials want to develop their skills, be challenged and not pigeonholed into one job or function for the rest of their career (sound familiar?).  Cross-training is considered a valuable growth opportunity as Millennials develop skills that give them mobility. In the article I urge accounting firms to start the conversation now on how to better grow and develop this need in their young talent. 

Well is seems the PricewaterhouseCoopers Chairman Dennis Nally may have read my article.  In a recent issue of The Wall Street Journal, when asked what is the biggest challenge for companies when trying to recruit talented staff, Nally responded with:

“This millennial generation is not just looking for a job, they’re not just looking for salary and financial benefits, they’re looking for skill development, they’re looking for mobility, they’re looking for opportunities to acquire different skills and to move quickly from one part of an organization to another. How you manage that sort of talent and how you deal with their expectations is very different from what’s been done in the past.” (July 11, 2011, “PwC Chairman Aims to Keep Millennials Happy”)

Mr. Nally – I couldn’t agree more and if my article helped you formulate your people strategy I am pleased it was of use to you. To other companies, not just accounting firms, it is time to understand how the needs of the Millennials regarding career growth and future expectations are changing your workplace and workforce. 


*Please note – SBR Consulting, LLC is becoming Randall Research… Data-driven solutions for people-driven companies™.  Our services have not changed but our new name better reflects our core mission of using data to drive employee engagement and productivity.  Our new website will be *


A University Recruiting Perspective on Millennials and the Recession

August 6, 2011

Our expert series continues with a conversation with Lisa Simmons who is the assistant director of recruiting for the Schools of Business at Wake Forest University.  Our research uncovered interesting findings on the value of education and degrees and Lisa provides insight from her perspective of working within higher education.  Enjoy!

Q: As the Assistant Director, Recruiting for the Wake Forest Schools of Business, what were your initial reactions to the findings in the white paper? 

A: Actually, several points really struck a chord with me.

  • Distrust of “big business“ – Millennials hold out a larger and more holistic ideal for companies than the profit motive.  Their model business is engaged in sustainability, diversity, and is giving back to the community. By and large, they are people and not profit focused.  They believe in “doing good” and expect to be treated as a human being and not a commodity by their employers.  
  • Dissatisfaction with current employment – Your findings about Millennials actually reflect that of the larger American workforce.  So, while this was no surprise, it did reinforce the belief that college students need careful career exploration and a career plan.  
  • Doubt about cost versus value of college education – This has been in the news a lot lately.  Parents, students, and even various pundits have been discussing the issue.  There is no doubt that college can be an expensive endeavor.  Yet, without a degree, it is difficult for young adults to find work and then to grow.  That’s not to say that it cannot happen; only that it is very rare. It is just very difficult to get a foot in the door of a company without the requisite education.  

Q: From your perspective, what are some best practices employed by Wake Forest University Schools of Business in preparing students for the “real world?”


  • Focus on lifetime career management – Our career staff provides students with the necessary tools to manage their career and job search, not just while in college, but for a lifetime.
  • For-credit career education – Career education is a mandatory part of the curriculum.  While academics are of supreme importance, the student’s ultimate success will be measured by employment.
  • Four P’s Program – The career coaching staff trains students in the Four P’s of Purpose, Passion, Preparation, and Performance, which is a solid foundation for career contentment and achievement.
  • Dedicated Employer Relations – Having a dedicated staff allows full-time pursuit and development of employer relationships.  Some models I have seen place the responsibility for employer relations on the career coaching staff.  That leaves less time for specialization in either area. 
  • Mentorship Program – Career staff carefully pair corporate volunteers with students to provide a more rounded real-world experience.
  • Supportive administration – Our administrators understand the importance of student success in our own success as a school.  They supported the building of a career staff that could meet the needs of students.  Wake Forest Schools of Business was featured in a June 10, 2011 Inside Higher Ed article entitled MBA in Job-Hunting?

Q: Do you find that students ask different questions than students did 5 or 10 years ago regarding the ROI on their college education investment?

A: It’s my opinion that the value of a college education has not changed but the perception of its value has in the weak job market.  A college education has been understood to be the usual gateway to the “American Dream.”  It is a door opener and a box that must be checked for many jobs. While it is still true that a college degree is a necessary step on the path to a career, given the state of the job market, some students (and even parents) may have begun to doubt. 

The competition for jobs is high.  Job seekers not only need a degree for many jobs, but also must be competitive in job seeking. It’s like the adage, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.”  Thus, job seekers need to outpace the competition.  The resume, elevator speech, and interview skills must be polished.  The candidate needs to be able to relay his or her value to the employer.  In addition, the candidate should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the company, industry, and competition.  That is why university career services offices are crucial to student success.  

Q: As mentioned in the white paper, there have been numerous recently released statistics regarding people looking to make a move and my research showed 70% of Millennials were considering the possibility of changing jobs.  As someone on the ground floor working with the Millennial generation, what is your reaction to these type of statistics?

A: I think there may be a few factors at play here.  First, as students step out into the world for the first time, they may learn that things are not quite as they once imagined.  Reality may shake apart previously held idealistic views when they finally get on the job.  Perhaps the job that they thought they wanted no longer seems to be a good fit, or maybe the industry in which they are working is no longer desirable.  Of course, the current economic conditions are not facilitating employee satisfaction by and large.  The temptation for employers is to try to do more with less, and this usually falls on the shoulders of the employees via increased workload, light to non-existent raises, few promotion opportunities, and benefit cuts.  There may even be inadequate funds for professional development and other needs / programs.

Another reason that Millennials might be unhappy is that they did not receive enough career assistance while in college.  Either their school did not stress career management or students never believed it to be necessary.  They may have taken the first job offered rather than having set and pursued a goal throughout college, culminating in a close approximation to their dream job.  How many undergrad students become engaged with career services when they are freshman or sophomores versus the last semester of their senior year when graduation is knocking on the door?  How many graduate students ignore the career resources at their disposal? The temptation may be to pursue the academics and let the career development take care of itself.  Unfortunately, that strategy works best at or near full employment and not during a recession. 

Wake Forest is concentrating on the development of the whole person since the launch of the Office of Personal & Career Development. Likewise, the Wake Forest Schools of Business, faculty and staff are very involved with students because our success is measured by their success.  Thus, shortly after orientation, our career staff begins to expose students to the work world through industry panels, company information sessions, company site visits and trips, practical learning opportunities and other career education opportunities.  In addition, they assist students in putting together a plan and a brand and provide a mentor.  This leads to more informed career decisions that are likely to boost eventual job satisfaction. 

Thank you Lisa for your time!


The Employee Experience…Not Just For Millennials

July 13, 2011

Our expert series continues as we look deeper at the survey results released in the Millennial Generation Today: Impact of economic environment on recruitment, retention and engagement white paper.  We are speaking with Bob Dean who is the Director of the North American business for Profiling Online, a global talent management solutions company. Bob has served as a senior executive for learning and talent management for Ernst & Young, Grant Thornton and Heidrick & Struggles. In 2006, he became one of the first ten people in the world to be certified in the models and frameworks of the The Experience Economy.  Bob uses this certification to design, develop, and deliver transformational customer and employee experiences for his clients.

Q: What are your initial thoughts on the survey results?

A: The survey covered information that is relevant today.  When you consider the financial meltdown and all that has happened in our country, and the world, information or articles on one generation from three years ago may not necessarily be as relevant today.

Q: Where or why have companies lost their way in engaging employee over the last few years?

A: Many corporate cultures have failed to adapt in the last 10 years.  Companies need to get back to their core values and what they stand for.  Companies should consider what culture they currently have and if it is the type of culture they need to sustain their businesses.  If it is a sustainable culture then the communication with employees has to change and have substance.  Communication has changed dramatically and communicating with employees is more than just an intranet or Facebook page.

Companies, especially large ones, have historically thought anything they needed to know as an organization they could find by tapping into their employees, their inside collective knowledge.  When they needed to know something they went to their employee source.  But what happens to companies when a large number of the employees leave through a layoff?  That company’s collective knowledge is now out in the market place.  And the marketplace now mirrors what the company once was in terms of knowledge. 

A company is either a closed culture or an open culture and those that are closed have lost their way and are not quick to understand the value of talent and tapping into collective knowledge. 

Q: Explain the employee experience concept?

A: Millions and billions of dollars is spent on corporate learning and development.  If you assess the retention and application of what’s covered in training sessions – it is maybe 20%.  So, much of the training has become a “check the box” activity.  Companies, spending that kind of money, need to get more out of their investment, should want to get more out of their investment.  The idea of the employee experience is to design learning experiences that deliver and make an impact.  Think about getting coffee at Starbucks versus your home.  It is the personal experience that differentiates what you remember and apply (in this case choosing to return to Starbucks).  The employee experience was adapted from The Experience Economywritten by Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore in 1999.  I was certified in this book in 2006.  The concept started with differentiating the customer experience through customization and has been adapted for the employee experience. You can learn more at

Thank you Bob for your time and expertise.  I appreciate you sharing your knowledge with our readers.


Expert Interview Series: Market Movement

May 26, 2011

Our expert series continues with a Q&A with Melissa McGuire, CEO and founder of Sherpa.  Sherpa is a Charlotte-based staffing, recruiting and consulting agency focused on the fields of accounting & finance, technology and project management.  You can find them online at

Q: As mentioned in our white paper (The Millennial Generation Today: The economic environment impact to recruitment, retention and engagement), there have been numerous recently released statistics regarding people looking to make a move and our research showed 70% of Millennials were considering the possibility of changing jobs. What is your reaction to these type of statistics?

A: I believe the statistics. First of all, I believe a large percentage of all employees are considering changing jobs. Never before have I heard so many people express so much stress about their jobs. Most have worked harder than ever during the recession and have received fewer rewards: lower or no bonuses, less 401k matching, less job security, higher health care costs, etc. Additionally, because of fears of layoffs and pressure to produce results has lowered morale in many companies. I don’t track millennials because I don’t look at age when evaluating people, but those newer to the work force are likely to be disillusioned with their jobs and believe there are greener pastures. However, I do believe that most will find better times if they stay in their current jobs. But, the trust has been broken, so many will probably leave.

Q: Do you see movement of those currently employed starting to pick up or has it held steady throughout the recession?

A: I have seen people very reluctant to change jobs during the recession. Instead, they hung on to them, even if they didn’t like them. It is the increase in confidence in the economy that is creating the environment for job changing. There are more jobs to move to and there is a little less fear of being the “last one in” at a company, which is the fear that they could be the first one out if the company had layoffs.

Q: When your recruiters contact passive candidates (those currently employed) are they more willing to consider an opportunity you may be calling about than they were 2 or 3 years ago?

A: Definitely.

Thanks Melissa for taking the time to answers our questions.  We appreciate your insight and know the statistics have some of those responsible for retaining their current talent very nervous. 

As a reminder, the white paper is available for download at


New Research Release: What we need to know NOW about our largest generation

May 18, 2011

The Millennial Generation Today: Impact of the economic environment on recruitment, retention and engagement white paper is available online at  The white paper is available complimentary.

Almost 1,200 Millennials (21 to 30 years old) participated in the national online survey to gauge how this generation feels about working in corporate America, thoughts on future employment decisions, and changing consideration of what’s important about work and their future. 

So what did our survey find? Here are a few key highlights…

  • We have entered a “flight pattern” of workers wanting to find new employment opportunities. 70% of Millennials say there is a possibility they will change jobs.
  • Women are more likely than men to consider leaving.
  • Top three priorities are compensation, flexible work schedule and opportunity to make a difference.
  • Despite the economic reality, 70% are positive about their future in general.
  • Only 41% make saving for retirement a priority.

Results include findings on Millennials and the Workplace (will they stay or go, what’s important and the continual layoff affect), the Education Debate (high cost versus ROI and does your degree work for you?) and Future Visions (retirement, entrepreneurism and CSR impact). 

Take a moment and read through the white paper and then let us know your thoughts on the results.  We look forward to engaging in conversation with you.


Follow our blog over the next few months as we talk with experts from areas related to our findings to dig deeper into the story of our data.  Up first is Shay Prosser, author of Get It Together – The Real-World Money Guide for Graduates.  She’ll discuss her thoughts on the retirement findings and the financial impact of our new economic normal on this generation. Look for her blog interview on Monday, May 23, 2011.


A New Generation Brand in Celebration of Earth Day

April 20, 2011

As we all know everything is going green (or eco-friendly, sustainable, renewable, and so on).  While some adopt these practices because they truly care, others do so because it looks good.  You can’t get away from the “green” movement.  It touches all facets of our lives from the building industry to household cleaners to retail and fashion.  Try being a recruiter today without a “green” message, regardless if it actually makes a recruit pick you over your competitor.  This potential ‘fad’ has taken root.  But what are the considerations of this movement for the next generation (those born after 2001), those who follow the Millennials/Gen Y? 

Some generational experts are calling them Generation Z which certainly fits and follows the previous two generations quite nicely – Gen X and Gen Y.  Others are referring to them as Generation Thumb because all they will know how to do is talk with their thumbs…which is really not that different from the Millennials.  But I propose a new brand for this group of 10 years old to those not yet born.  (Keep in mind a generation spans 20 years so in 2012 we will just begin to start welcoming the second decade of this latest generation to the world.)

I propose G² – Generation Green.  No, not because I think we are going to be raising a bunch of tree huggers.  I believe the green movement has roots in the parents of young children today and the habits will be passed down.  Our young parents today are the younger Xers (those in their 30s) and the older Millennials (those in their late 20s). 

When I was in college in the 90s we didn’t have recycle bins on every floor in our dorm but now they are staples on just about every floor in every dorm.  When you go shopping at IKEA or Earth Fare you have to figure out what is trash and what is not and as we all ask our kids to clean up the table those decisions now fall to them.  As I settle into my early 30s my husband and I have adopted more green and eco-friendly practices.  We, like a number of our neighbors, have rain barrels, plant gardens, shop at farmers markets and recycle in larger volumes than we did when we were younger (when our Baby Boomer parents called the household shots).  

We are creating habits with enough reinforcement to likely sustain our young children well into adulthood.  And this is why I think our latest generation should be rightfully named G² – Generation Green. 

Happy Earth Day to all the Generations.  Remember Earth Day is Friday, April 22nd – don’t forget to plant a tree!


A Parent’s Confession

April 12, 2011

Why he is raising a kid you may not want to hire.

I recently had a conversation with a dad who has a senior in high school.  As we chatted about his son and I gently probed his parenting tactics he looked at me sheepishly and said…“I know I am creating a kid that one day companies won’t want to hire.”  Due to his divorce and subsequent marriage to his second wife, he had to move his son across the country and drop him into a family with two step-sisters.  Because the dad felt guilty of the changes (and was at a point in his career where he could financially step back from working) he stayed home.  He also began to cater to his son.  He spends his mornings making lunches and doing laundry, running carpool throughout the day and trying to make his kid’s life easier. 

Now it’s easy to throw punches and pass judgment.  But if you had the benefit that I did to talk openly with this father you can understand his desire to “make things better and easier” for his kid.  He is being a parent after all, and as a parent myself, I recognize that desire, no matter how misguided.  It is a constant internal ‘heart vs. head’ struggle.  And the reality is, this dad knows better and he readily admits it. 

Though the depth of our parenting may be debatable, for the most part how we raise (or don’t) our children defines who they become.  And the person they grow up to be – their values, expectations, work ethic – is the one who arrives at your company on their first day. 

This isn’t a new debate about the Millennial (or Gen Y) generation.  It is an ongoing conversation we all, including the Millennials, will continue to deal with, talk about, debate and try to fix.  Are they coddled?  Must even those in last place get a trophy?  Do they have an over-inflated sense of self-importance?  Must they act so entitled? 

Truth is not all parents coddle, not all kids get trophies when they come in last, and not all think too highly of themselves or feel entitled.  And unfortunately some are all of those things.  As the oldest Millennials start to become parents (they are officially in their 30s now) it will be interesting to see how they parent.  And will give me something else to research, study and debate.  Bring it on!

What are your thoughts on the lasting effects of parenting and how has that impacted the Millennial generation?

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