WHY AREN'T MILLENNIALS WILLING TO TAKE OVER FROM THE RETIRING WORKFORCE?
RETIREMENT CRISIS: WHY THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE CONCERNED
The U.S. government could potentially lose 30 % of its workforce within the next two years. It is projected that 1/3 of federal employees are eligible to retire by 2020. Like with any other entity, losing 30% of its staff will negatively impact productivity and efficiency. Hiring freezes, understaffing challenges, and impending mass retirement spells doom for the U.S. government. If not addressed in time, the government will find itself in a highly impacted staffing shortage predicament. How did the government end up in this current situation? Let's examine some of the factors that may have contributed to this retirement wave, which threatens to cripple government services:
In an ideal setting, it is normal for new employees to be hired while others leave the company. Employees may leave the company for various reasons; quitting, being fired, health problems or retirement. If the number of employees leaving an organization is equivalent to those joining, then there will be no gap. The challenge facing the U.S. government is more employees are leaving than those taking up employment. While the rest of the country is experiencing growth regarding number of workers, the same cannot be said of federal workers. In addition, reductions in hiring are taking place across the federal workforce, and much of it is due to a requirement to reduce government spending.
In 2010 president Obama affected a two-year pay freeze for federal workers. The pay freeze was meant to cut government spending. Before the freeze, federal workers enjoyed a one percent pay increment per year. From the government's perspective, it was a good move, as it would help in bridging the rising deficits. But from the civilian federal workers, the pay freeze was yet another blow to their long service. Critics argued that the savings to be made from the pay freeze are merely a drop in the ocean for the massive deficits. The pay freeze was again extended in 2013, and even the government discouraged state agencies from giving out bonuses. Following through on a proposal, President Trump issued an executive order freezing federal workers' pay for 2019. President Trump is also planning to scrap the 2019 pay bump for federal workers and cancel a yearly adjustment of paychecks based on the region of the country where workers are posted, called the "locality pay increase," that was due to take effect in January 2019, Freezing increments for federal employees does nothing to uplift their already low morale. Qualified staff are leaving for greener pastures, and those eligible for retirement are taking up retirement. Freezing pay will only make the retirement problem worse. While other sectors are providing incentives for its employees, the US government policies are doing the opposite for civilian federal workers.
Employers including federal agencies have taken to furloughing its employees in a bid to cut costs. Because of tough economic times and government shutdowns, federal employees are taking unpaid time off from work. Considered as the lesser evil alternative to layoffs, it is driving more federal workers towards early retirement. When implemented, furloughs are mandatory and do not consider what the worker wants. Furloughed employees feel demotivated and going without pay is difficult for them. Even those who remain working while others are furloughed are likely to complain of being overworked. Federal agencies will also lose staff due to furloughs. Not all staff will wait out until the storm has passed, some will actively seek jobs elsewhere. Federal workers are also concerned about what effect furloughs will have on their retirement benefits. As it is benefits are computed based on the highest pay the employee received for 36 months consecutively. Some staff are concerned that the months they go without pay will affect their high-3, especially if the leave extends beyond six months.
Furloughs, retirement, and a shrinking workforce means that the remaining employees are doing more than ever before. Due to the increased workload in government agencies, Federal workers feel overworkedand those eligible for retirement are retiring. The babyboomers who joined the workforce decades ago are now in their 50's and 60's and are opting out of the workforce. Also, because of age and failing health some are becoming too frail to continue working.
Because of the government's austerity measures, federal employees are receiving less and less compensation for working overtime. Reduced overtime is contributing to the looming retirement wave. Rather than stay and earn less money for more work, federal workers are opting to retire.
HOW TO MINIMIZE THE IMPACT OF THE IMPENDING RETIREMENT
The government has to create a balance between cutting government spending and averting a retirement crisis. Federal workers, who are set to retire, possess critical skills and if they retire as forecasted, there will be a massive brain drain in federal agencies. To ensure that government agencies continue operating smoothly way beyond 2020, the following measures should be put in place.
Some agencies are staring at massive crisis if their employees retire. The Federal Aviation Administration (Air Traffic Controllers) is one of the most affected organizations; over 45 % of its workforce is eligible for retirement in the next three years. If all the 46% were to retire, its operations would undoubtedly be ground to a halt. Rather than wait for the retirement doomsday to come, the government should consider a phased retirement scheme. In this plan, qualified staff that are set to retire are asked to stay on the job. Having the would-be-retirees work part-time ensures continuity of services. They also will help to train new or junior staff, before leaving them to do the job on their own. Congress has already approved this stop-gap as one way to avert the looming crisis.
TRAIN CURRENT WORKFORCE
Top and middle managers are among those set to retire. Instead of waiting until they have gone, agencies should be putting a succession plan in motion. Ask those federal workers who will be retiring to mentor and groom the junior staff. While some may imagine that a handover and few-weeks training will do the trick, it won't. Develop talent now, and when retirement strikes, there will be minimal disruption. Some of the staff are highly skilled and will take a few years before they can sufficiently train a new person. Imagine trying to stuff 40 years of experience into two years. Start training and mentorship now.
AGGRESSIVE RECRUITMENT CAMPAIGNS
Over 40 % staff at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Small Business Administration were set to retire. The predicament is replicated across all government agencies; only three agencies are registering growth in worker numbers. To avert the retirement disaster, agencies should engage in aggressive recruitment campaigns. Federal agencies have to attract, train, and retain talents who will bridge the gap left by retirees.
WHY ARE MILLENNIALS SHUNNING GOVERNMENT JOBS?
Millennials (the group born after 1980) have been accused of many things. According to different critics, they don't vote, and they don't save. The members of generation Y have also been accused of eating expensive brunch at the expense of buying homes. Looking at current statistics, it is also safe to say that millennials don't like working for the government. Of the entire federal workforce, only 7% are millennials. While other employers are registering a high number of millennials in their organizations, the government appears to have missed the memo. The government is staring at an impending crisis, with 30 % of its federal workforce set to retire in a couple of years. If millennials are expected to bridge the gap left by retirees what can the government do to appeal to generation Y? So why isn't the state attracting millennials?
SLOW TECHNOLOGY UPTAKE
Generation Y love selfies, social media, technology, they have even popularized the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) concept. They love their computers and mobile devices (with internet connection). While seeking jobs, they consider factors such as flexibility and freedom to bring in their devices to work and take them home. Government agencies have remained traditional and have not embraced technology and automation at the workplace. It is not unusual to find a desk at a federal office without a computer. Working sans computers is unthinkable to most millennials. Government systems are usually legacy systems. The older generation may not have a problem with the old outdated systems but not millennials. Millennials prefer modern and collaborative tools that offer flexibility. To attract this generation to its workforce, the federal government will have to take specific measures to deploy the right technology. It must automate processes using new and modern techniques.
The government equipment must be updated; because millennials, unfortunately, have a sense of entitlement. They demand high tech computers, to bring them in the workforce, federal agencies will have to invest in modern information and communication devices. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) policies will also have to be revised to match the millennials modus operandi. They have to be allowed to bring their own devices and to access social media over work break maybe. Suffocating them with stringent policies will only serve to alienate them and they will quit. The government will have to borrow a leaf from tech companies that employ millions of millennials and relax the rules a little bit. Millennials expect multiple options such as working from home, collaborating with colleagues on a project and ability to send and receive feedback immediately. Memos though efficient with the older generation may not be as appealing to millennials, who prefer using emails and other communication tools.
Many Baby boomers held one job from day 1 to retirement. Millennials on the other are ambitious and will not think twice about changing positions. While hiring a member of generation Y is not difficult, the real challenge is retaining them. State agencies have employees who have been with them for over 30 years. The idea that someone may quit in a year or two may be strange to them. What do they have to do to tame the restless millennials? They are itching to take on new challenges and are willing to take on more risks than their older counterparts. To hire and retain millennials, management will have to offer them more flexibility in their roles. Allow them to make individual decisions. Involve them in the decision-making process, as they may not be receptive to the idea of taking orders from above. They question the ways thing are done, and for the older managers this may appear as insubordination, but it is not. The communication channels will have to be kept open and can go each way, either top down or bottom up.
Most state offices have a formal organization culture. They start at 8 am and finish at 5 pm. The men are probably required to wear a suit and tie, and the ladies must be equally smart in formal attire. Millennials, on the other hand, have an aversion to ties. Encouraged by the rise of technopreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook they want a less formal employee policy. Federal governments must strive to strike a delicate balance between professionalism and millennials expectations. While we don't expect government employees to go to work in shorts and t-shirts, maybe they can be allowed to drop the jackets.
MENTORSHIP AND TRAINING
Compared to the private sector, government agencies do not offer as much training and mentorship to is staff. Baby boomers only received necessary training, and they were okay with it. So long as they got the job done, everything was okay. Millennials have a long list of expectations. Millennials want their employers to offer them training by funding seminars and workshops continuously. For governments to efficiently utilize their staffs' potential, they should consider pairing a millennial and a baby boomer. Each has something to teach the other, which benefits the agency.
To attract and retain millennials in the federal workforce, managers must give them room to innovate and express themselves. They must also be made to feel like part of the organization and their voices however dissenting must be heard, they will question the status quo a lot, and they must not be vilified for it. For millennials work is more than just making money, they are also seeking a sense of purpose and satisfaction.
BUSINESS STAFFING OF AMERICA, INC. (BSA)
With 30 % of federal employees set to retire and millennials reluctant to work for the government, new approaches have to be considered to avert a major crisis. Business Staffing of America, Inc. has come up with ingenious ways to incorporate millennials in the workforce, who will eventually take over from retiring employees. We manage an internship program aimed at filling in gaps at federal agencies. We screen and source for the best talent. We not only recruit interns of diverse backgrounds with skill in various fields but we also provide accommodation and transport for them. We make it easy for federal agencies to find and retain the right pool of talent.
In order to support our company motto, BSA uses a proprietary and proven interpersonal behavioral, technical and background screening system that we call the “Tri-Screen Process.” This proven behavioral-based interviewing process has been refined eliminate the wasted time and effort that historically has lead to placements of the wrong people. The “Tri-Screen Process” has three levels of screening which eliminates non-contenders due to interpersonal incompatibility, technical deficiencies, resume inconsistency, and/or lack of credible references. The Tri-Screen process has had a historical 98% success rate for the last 20 years. As a result of using the Tri-Screen Process, the quality of the prospective candidates was superior.
THE "TRIPLE T" PROCESS INCLUDES:
Target Recruitment. Use behavioral based interviewing to find the most qualified interns.
Talent Development. Use a talent development plan for each candidate that is comprised of integrated organizational HR processes designed to attract, develop, motivate, and retain productive individuals. The goal of talent development is to create high-performance sustainable organizations that meets their strategic and operational goals and objectives.
Transfer to Career. Use methods to transfer candidate’s talent to the organization.
THE BSA VALUE PROPOSITION OFFERS:
BSA knows you have many choices when it comes to Intern recruitment services. Our value propositions to are as follows: