How the Federal Government is Retaining Millennial Talent

July 23, 2014 Chuck Brooks

Millennials will make up 50 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020 and 75 percent of the global workforce by 2030. This means that organizations and government agencies will have to begin to re-think their old ways in order to attract and retain employees.

Recently, we covered the importance of changing the perception of government professions to attract millennials in this blog post. A few tips we outlined included showcasing innovation in government programs, and highlighting employee investment and appreciation through the extensive benefits programs and training that agencies offer.

But some agencies are going above and beyond. I believe other agencies can learn from their lead to accommodate and empower their millennials workers.

  • Talking the talk: It’s safe to say that millennials have a very different way of communicating compared to baby boomers and it’s important for organizations to recognize this and shift the way they communicate with constituents to meet everyone’s needs. This is exactly what agencies, especially customer contact centers, are doing. Rather than only providing phone communications to cater to the baby boomers, contact centers are developing multiple channels for customers to utilize including, text messaging, email, social media and online. This infographic states that 41 percent of consumers prefer online service rather than the telephone, so by evolving communication channels, contact centers are meeting the needs of the growing millennial population.
  • Going green: Millennials are focused on environmental sustainability and 55 percent want to see a change in their employer’s stance on sustainability. By becoming more green and environmental friendly, agencies can increase employee commitment, positively impacting employee satisfaction and retention. Agencies like the General Services Administration are already going green by implementing sustainability initiatives across many different buildings. These efficiency upgrades are expected to produce nearly $3 million in savings over the first year of operation. By becoming environmentally responsible through implementing an entire program or a simple recycling program, millennials will continue to be satisfied.
  • Government 2.0: Innovation is everywhere and technology is changing our everyday lives. Millennials are some of the top technology advocates because they grew up around technology and aren’t afraid to try the latest and greatest. They expect technology to play a big part in their work environment and believe it will make it more interesting and them productive. Government agencies are making great advances and beginning to use technology to impact processes and help employees. For example, they are embracing new trends like the cloud. In fact, 90 percent of federal agencies have adopted the cloud. They are also using it to help citizens by developing smart water meters to combat California drought and sensor-based technology to make cities smarter and more connected to that enhance efficiency.
  • Work is not a place anymore: Along the same lines as the technology, mobility and BYOD are changing the way we do business. Millennials like to be able to work from anywhere at any time and 50 percent of them would rather work from their smartphone even when working at their desk. BYOD and mobility are not going away and government agencies are developing mobility plans to give their employees the necessary tools to succeed. Since the launch of the Digital Government Strategy initiative, the government has invested $1.6 billion in mobilizing its workforce. Not only does mobility increase productivity, it can help agencies save $15.1 billion in real estate. Agencies see the importance of flexibility in the workplace and are making BYOD and mobility a top priority for the growing millennial population.

As mentioned in our previous blog, millennials want to make a difference in the world and they want to promote change. I believe this is one area government agencies can improve on. Agencies need to start highlighting how their work is positively impacting the world and begin to develop charitable giving programs and initiatives to keep millennials happy. Whether it is a day of volunteering or a donation drive, investing in giving back and showcasing how anyone can make a difference can be an easy way to keep younger talent happy and engaged.

About the Author

Chuck Brooks

Charles (Chuck) Brooks serves as Vice President/Client Executive for DHS at Xerox. Xerox is a global product and services company that serves clients in 160 countries. Chuck served in government at the Department of Homeland Security as the first Director of Legislative Affairs for the Science & Technology Directorate. He also spent six years on Capitol Hill as a Senior Advisor to the late Senator Arlen Specter and was Adjunct Faculty Member at Johns Hopkins University where he taught homeland security and Congress. Chuck has an MA in International relations from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Political Science from DePauw University. Chuck is published on the subjects of innovation, public/private partnerships, emerging technologies, and issues of cybersecurity.

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