Flexibility as a status symbol – How consultancy firms can retain young consultants over the long term

Marcel Ramin Derakhchan9. December 2018

University graduates continue to perceive well positioned consultancy firms as attractive employers.

The sector is reporting steady growth, and likewise, the number of consultants is trending upwards: around one quarter of the approximately 110,000 consultants active in German consulting firms today are at the junior level (1).

Consequently, recruiting young talent need not be a worry. The real challenge arises after three to four years when consultants have become experienced, assume personnel responsibility, manage customer projects efficiently by themselves. At specific point,  – specifically at the point when they become valuable for a company, many consultants switch their employers. The reasons have to do with the self perception of this generation and their prevailing values that behind this is to be found in how this generation of consultants views itself and the values they hold that are no longer driven by monetary concerns alone. In many cases, sStatus symbols such as company cars, senator cards and overnight stays in five star hotels are no great incentives. no longer cut the mustard. Instead, the intrinsic meaning of one’s work is put to question, whole point of the job itself is questioned, both from an economic standpoint and in terms of the individual’s course through life. from a personal standpoint.

Only a small number of consultancy firms are, however, able capable of responding to respond adequately. In the United States, S, what is known as purpose consulting is currently gaining traction. This approach is aimed at supporting consultants in finding meaningfulness. Employees and companies able to give a clear answer to the question of meaningfulness also perform better – according to the findings of the relevant studies (2). Fluctuation rates in the consultancy companies naturally also drop as a result. With this aim in mind, employers will not only have to not only need to clarify “ad-hoc” questions about meaningfulness, for instance in workshops or management training, but are also called on need to moderate this process adequately. This will put the preconditions in place for e prerequisites for ensuring that companies will retain more young professionals over the remain with the company long term will consequently be set in place.

Alternatives to time presence time at work

This starts with a work/life balance. Many young consultants are married, have small children and, quite apart from the performance they are expected to deliver, amount of work they are required to do, are keen to find an optimum solution to combining their private lives with their profession. Consultants now generally spend three to four days a week with the customers and often work away from home. At the start of a consultancy career, this is accepted as the standard, while this attitude changes norm but three to four years down the line this attitude changes. Alternatives are requiredcalled for, and the wish for home office days and flexible work time models are now the rule rather than the exception. As Consequently, a result, flexibility has already become a status symbol today and one that is is gaining in importance. Consultancy companies must find the right answers to these developments is as well. A first important step would be to inform the customer that the consultant will not be on site every day. Especially considering this is not absolutely necessary anyway thanks to Skype and videoconferencing. For a consultant with family, the amount of presence time at pensum of time and work is often a predefined breaking point that is still acknowledged in some companies with a shrug of the shoulders.

Management on an equal footing

Furthermore, young the consultants increasingly expect a corporate culture in which they are treated on an equal footing, hallmarked by appreciation and open communication. However, specifically at this juncture many consultancies y firms still adhere strongly to stick to their traditions: flat hierarchies and direct contact with the partners are often the exception rather than the rule. A contemporary management style that also includes managers reflecting on themselves as well as their conduct is bringing about a change.

A change in perspective also requires entails an understanding of the point of view of the younger generation of consultants who view themselves today as entrepreneurs within the company. They want to be involved in decisions, have a visible impact on their own organization, and contribute to shaping tangible change with customers. Not knowing whether their project worked successfully in implementation or why it failed is very frustrating for many consultants. They want a clear mission and a shared vision, are looking for opportunities to determine procedures and expect the appropriate degree scope of freedom. If they don’t get the answers they will go where they think they can find them – which is , currently above all above all in the start-up scene.

Old School thinking is out

The conventional career path in many consultancy firms is stil defined as followsl: partners are responsible for revenue, generate business and develop customers – otherwise they don’t become partners. Good consultants who consider their strengths more in terms of content, and can therefore make a difference in the competition for lucrative mandates, are able to drive this logic out of the company. And if If this doesn’t change, it will also not tempt generation Y to become partners in such organizations. there. Having to satisfy new sales targets in millions targets year after year simply for the sake of growth lacks purpose for many consultants. The stakeholders may be content, but this is not a model that young consultants generally consider worth striving for. Naturally, the balancing act between a financially successful business and the desire for taking on more responsibility and self-realization in a services sector such as consultancy is not always easy to accomplish. manage. The fact is, however, that the attitudes and value systems of the younger generation of consultants is are changing, and therefore also forcing companies are therefore also being forced to change.

Developing employee potential

Along with flexible work time models, some companies offer highly diverse a range of different models for time off, parenting, secondment, ongoing further scontinuous professional development or longer vacation periods – right through to sabbaticals of several months with a guarantee of keeping the job open for the employee. BCG has the ‘Full Potential Plan’ for its consultants’ personal development. Along with personalized continuous professional development options, this also includes the possibility of working on social projects. “Social Impact Engagement” therefore becomes an integral part of a corporate strategy. During their time out, top people professionals can engage in social projects for a period of one year, also even outside the consulting world, and likewise also with a guarantee of being able to return to their jobs.

Along with this measure, consultancy firms should take note of the following points in order to loyalize find young professionals to the company:

  • Question the company’s corporate culture and, if appropriate, adjust to a changed system of values
  • Foster and encourage open communication
  • Take a close look at communication with customers
  • Implement flexible work time
  • Assign responsibility and leave scope for independent action room to manoeuvre
  • Identify development opportunities and perspectives and rospects and moderate in a timely manner good time
  • Factor in Take account of the work/life balance aspects

(1) https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/261280/umfrage/anzahl-der-unternehmensberater-in-deutschland/
(2) https://www.globe-one.com/app/uploads/2018/07/180702_Purpose-Study_Germany_EN_FINAL_WEBSITE.pdf