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Why You Need Millennials in your Accounts Payable Department

There are about 2.4 billion people in the world under the age of 40. A total of 40% of the workforce at most average companies are millennials. In the next ten years, 75% of the workplace will be millennials. Millennials have transformed the workplace over the past decade, bringing with them new ideas, motivations, and characteristics. HR leaders, executives and line managers who want to attract, retain and engage millennials must understand their fundamental drivers and characteristics. This is, of course, also true for the CFO and the AP manager.

Characteristics of the Millennial Workforce

Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California, Jennifer Deal has done substantial research on the millennial workforce. Her book entitled What Millennials Want from Work lists five different truths of the millennial workforce that all are of interest for managers hiring new staff for accounts payable.

Millennials are Determined to Do Good and Do Well

Millennials want work that both enables them to contribute to society in positive ways, and that rewards them appropriately. One is not a substitute for the other. For managers, this means that you need to make sure millennials understand how your business positively impacts the society and how their work directly contributes.

“Instead of ‘paper pusher,’ think ‘power player,’ says Stephanie Dula, with PayStream Advisors. Millennials are driven to make an impact, are ambitious and goal-oriented. They are making a name for themselves as “AP activists” — helping usher in a paradigm shift – moving AP away from a focus on operational efficiency to value creation and from data entry to more strategic activities. Companies should consider hiring millennials to help spearhead accounts payable initiatives such as supplier enablement and dynamic discounting programs that assist organizations to capture savings of up to 2% of corporate spend and $5 per payment in benefits – by unlocking the value in their payables.

Entitled and Hardworking

Millennials want to have a say and contribute their ideas. They resist doing repetitive or tedious work. The advice for hiring managers is to minimize repetitive work and engage millennials in improving processes, so everyone’s work is more efficient. The accounts payable process is no different. Millennials can be key contributors in automating the accounts payable process and bringing continuous improvements to the table.

As Cisco CEO John Chambers noted in a keynote speech at Cisco Live, 40% of organizations that exist today won’t survive the next decade, mostly due to their failure to effectively harness the power of the digital movement. Hiring from within the millennial workforce is a crucial step to achieving and maintaining digital success in corporate finance.

Millennials are High-Tech and High-Touch

Millennials are comfortable with technology. They have grown up with it, and it is part of their everyday activities. But they also value personal interactions. Let millennials use their preferred technology to support their work in the accounts payable department, and provide opportunities for millennials to make friends and collaborate at work.

Age-old clunky accounting systems don’t compute with this generation. The goal for hiring managers is to digitally enable these workers and deliver information with the speed and ease they require. Businesses need to provide access to information anytime, anywhere via mobile capabilities and streamline insights to action through analytics and dashboards. Mobile apps are giving line-of-business and accounts payable managers the ability to manage invoice processing anytime, anywhere to accelerate processing and keep accounts payable running smoothly. They also support millennials’ need for streamlined navigation and functionality and modern ease-of-use.

But don’t stop there. Consider implementing technology that also makes inter-office communication and collaboration easier. Modern accounts payable solutions can, for example, provide collaboration through @mention functionality.

Needy and Independent

While millennials want support, feedback, mentoring and to feel appreciated, but that doesn’t make them dependent. Let them know how they are doing — frequently. In an automated accounts payable process they can receive instant feedback through dashboards with process performance KPIs such as Average Invoice Process Time and trend in Invoice Touchless Ratios. For the millennial workforce, the visibility into process improvements even can allow for gamification of work tasks. Who can process an invoice faster? Who improved the accounts payable process this week by increasing touchless ratio? The game is on!

Millennials are Committed and Moving

The research shows that millennials are committed if they are mostly getting what they need. They don’t want to leave, but they want to move up in the organization. With automated accounts payable processes there is an opportunity for the accounts payable department to provide value beyond accurate and efficient transactions. It is a department which controls much of business-critical business data that impact the CFO agenda.

If accounts payable embrace the new role as a critical hub of revenue generation, millennials will be attracted to and stay in the workplace. And millennials are well positioned with the changing requirements of the accounts payable professionals’ skills and experiences such as project and change management and data interpretation and business analysis.

Let the Millennials supercharge digital transformation in AP

If hiring managers in accounts payable departments harness the power of the millennials, they can be a viable asset for companies that must disrupt how they do business and leverage new technology-enabled models to drive higher value. Tech-savvy and eager to learn and try new things, millennials can supercharge digital transformation in accounts payable and the finance office.

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