Governments are facing increased pressure to modernize what they offer their prospective and current employees. Younger generations are demanding better technology, better work/life balance, and more opportunities for growth, but the public sector has been slow to react. In a recent report released by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE) titled Workforce of the Future: Strategies to Manage Change, it states that “as a greater number of younger and more diverse workers enter the job market, local and state governments are adapting their recruitment strategies to reach them. They participate in job fairs and use social media, YouTube videos, and infographics in their advertising.”
Improvements made to modernize government and the way they view their workforce can come in a variety of scenarios. For example:
- Employee Engagement – Attracting a younger generation is difficult for the public sector because they can’t pay them the same high salaries that private sector does. However, many are still interested in a career that serves their community. Getting creative in other ways, such as implementing mobile policies, can be an added driver. According to Mike Brinker, global Deloitte Digital leader, “For most people, technology in their personal lives is actually better than the technology they use at work.” 1
- Streamline Processes with Technology – Too many workforce management processes are still being done manually. The days of outmoded pencil & paper aren’t over yet for many organizations. Government is struggling with keeping up with demand while their antiquated systems hold them back. Check out how Denver’s time-off request process went from 21 steps to 10 in the whitepaper “Achieving a Lean Government Workforce”. It’s unrealistic to think you can attract a younger, tech-savvy workforce when your processes for simple requests are complicated.
- Recruitment & Retention Strategies – A recruitment and retention strategy forces government organizations to think outside the box to keep staffing levels where they need them. Gone are the days of attractive pensions. Governments are adopting modern policies like telecommuting, additional paid leave (some are adding parental leave), and flexible work schedules/hours to name a few. In a blog post from Neil Reichenberg, Executive Director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) he says “It’s great to see state and local governments hiring and expanding, but the low rate of unemployment coupled with the increasing number of retirements will make it a challenging environment for state and local governments to compete for top talent.”
One example in the Workforce of the Future research done by SLGE comes from the State of Michigan around employee engagement surveys. “The State of Michigan has conducted employee engagement surveys every eighteen months since 2002. In response to survey feedback, Michigan established a leadership development program and a new employee recognition program. The response rate to the survey has continued to go up every year. Michigan credits its focus on taking actions on issues employees raise as the reason the rate has climbed.”
IDC's recent Digital Transformation (DX) Executive Sentiment Survey of 157 public sector decision makers indicates that digitally transforming their organization is a priority for 100% of public sector responders. And 59% of respondents indicate that their agency executives are facing pressure or significant pressure to execute a DX strategy. Digital transformation is one strategy to modernizing government. Looking at modernizing all aspects of your entire workforce is impractical. A more sensible approach is to look at best practices, like the one in the State of Michigan, and identify two or three to adopt for your organization.