Four out of the top ten most desirable companies to work for are professional services firms (PFCs). That’s the findings from the 2015 World’s Most Attractive Employers Survey, which takes the pulse of more than 240,000 business and engineering graduates from the twelve largest economies in the world.
So why are PSFs such a clear favorite amongst business students? The answer lies in what could be called the “PSF Magic Formula”. This formula is a proven recipe for any business wanting to attract the next generation of business talent.
When surveyed, Millennials showed a clear preference for engaging work. Students were asked what attributes of a workplace they considered important and were allowed to choose a maximum of three options. Of those surveyed, 39% said that it was important to learn new things on a daily basis, 37% desire participating in complex projects and 35% want involvement in innovative work. Put these together and you can see an overwhelming desire to have a job which incorporates continuous learning, opportunities for growth, and challenging assignments.
The traditional image of accounting and audit firms is not especially glamorous or exciting. However, when we look below the surface we can see that these PSFs offer exactly what Millennials are looking for. PSFs provide training, mentorship and the opportunity to move between a number of different roles. PSFs also offer a testing environment where there is a continual process of learning and applying new skills. Finally, business graduates who enter a PSF have a clear path of advancement to follow provided they are willing to apply themselves.
One of the key fears that Millennials have is that they will be stuck with no development opportunities and be unable to advance both in terms of their career and skills within a particular role. This has led them to be unfairly branded as being too impatient or unwilling to commit long term to a single business. But what it in fact demonstrates is that Millennials desire more professional and personal development and want to be constantly engaged. PSFs tend to be very transparent with the development and training they provide which provides a good foundation for millennials for future careers.
Competition for the best business graduates is heating up. In a recent survey, 69% of recruiters said that they expected competition to increase in 2015. This means that no business can afford to be complacent when it comes to attracting the best graduates.
So what can be learned from PSFs? Firstly, skills development needs to be an integral part of the company and should be clearly marketed as an employment benefit and an integral part of the jobs. Secondly, opportunity to apply these new skills need to be available and new employees with skills can be given greater, more meaningful responsibilities. Lastly, a path for advancement, lateral movement, and progression through the organization needs to be clearly outlined since Millennials look for career growth within the company when they are first considering employment.
Businesses that successfully apply the PSF formula can find that they not only become more attractive to the best business school graduates, but that they retain that top talent.