How to Capitalize on the 3 Biggest Trends in Government HR


Decades of advancement in private sector HR technologies are finally bearing fruit in the public realm. However, to get the strongest benefits, you first need to get a handle on what these trends are, and how they can impact your workforce.

The three biggest trends affecting the 2016 labor market include: prioritizing Millennial hiring to combat the effects of an aging workforce, the use of predictive analytics (PA) in making data-driven decisions, and emphasizing internal talent mobility. Read on for a bigger breakdown of each trend, and how you can make sure your agency can leverage them to strategically accomplish their mission.

Hiring Millennials

The “Silver Tsunami” of retiring government workers is a phrase we’re all sick of hearing, but let’s face it, with 30% of the workforce eligible to retire in the coming months,[1] HR professionals will have their hands full.

The solution is to get younger, and that means embracing Millennials. They typically don’t view the public sector as an option for them, but as a whole, they’re smart and driven, so Federal agencies should gear their recruiting efforts towards embracing their talents. Most data places Millennials as having been born between 1979 and 1983.

Millennials have the reputation of being job-jumpers – 38% are actively looking for new work, while 43% were open to new opportunities[2] – but rather than be worried about them leaving you, help them avoid restlessness by highlighting your agency’s development and ladder-climbing opportunities. Do you offer training and learning modules? Do you promote from within? As you look for younger employees, market yourself as a place where career growth is not just possible, but one that is tied to your succession strategy. When Millennials see you as more than a stepping stone, they’ll be more likely to bring their considerable education, passion, and talents to your organization.

Leveraging Predictive Analytics

“I can’t believe we had to let that person go, they interviewed so well!” It’s a common refrain, but let’s face it, hiring is still a roll of the dice…except for when it isn’t.

Predictive analytics helps users make decisions that are more data-driven, leaving little to chance. PA can help agencies thrive on everything from recruiting to prepping for larger trends before they happen, but let’s focus on recruiting here.

If you’re hiring for a role that requires a long-term time investment, yet the PA data indicates a potential new hire could leave sooner than that, you may want to continue your search. Otherwise, you risk that employee leaving before the work is done, leaving you to spend additional resources on recruiting, rather than on the project at-hand. How does this affect your budget? Replacing that worker can cost up to 60% of their salary,[3] so ensuring you have committed employees who want to remain with you will stretch your bottom line further and ensure no extended vacancies drive down your ability to complete your mission.

Embracing Talent Mobility

Enabling workers to climb the career ladder, or find a different ladder that’s better suited to their aspirations or skills, are the core tenets of talent mobility. Embracing this culture drives engagement, productivity/performance, and organizational succession strategies to foster agency growth.

This touches on some career advancement issues related to Millennials, but leveraging talent mobility can benefit your workforce as a whole. Among Gen X workers (born 1948-1965), 40% of men and 25% of women say they’d like to quit their job to become entrepreneurs.[4] Rather than accept that fate, and deal with the added stress and recruiting costs, top agencies should offer training that empowers workers to blend their personal ambitions with those of the agency.

If Engineer Eric wants to become the Engineering Director, or switch it up entirely to become Eric in Marketing, training and learning modules (which should be online and/or mobile-enabled) can prepare him for either career move. Whichever path he takes, your agency will enjoy the succession win, as well as the fact that his vital organizational knowledge isn’t lost.

The above trends can help HR teams win the talent wars in 2016, but they’ll need to be proactive to come out on top. Hire Millennials to combat the effects of an aging workforce. Employ predictive analytics to make data-driven workforce decisions, rather than leave it to chance. Last, talent mobility can help employees move strategically around your organization to blend their aspirations with your goals.

Learn more about the trends impacting HR here.





Jim Gill is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Elizabeth Zimmerman

I am confused.

First, this article encourages government to hire Millennials, then it calls them job-jumpers. It moves on to encourage agencies to look at predictive analytics to determine who will stick around. Without defining what factors are involved in these analytics, the article seems to contradict itself – hire Millennials, but they are job-jumpers, so don’t hire them. Huh?

I would love to see what factors the author is using in their predictive analytics for determining who will stick around in a given position. As an HR professional myself and a Millennial by this article’s definition, it would clarify a lot.

Jim Gill

Hi Elizabeth, thank you for reading the blog and for your feedback. While millennials may have the reputation of being job-jumpers, not all of them are. They often bring a tremendous amount of education, passion and life experiences to the workplace – all of which are attractive to employers. Also, they’re predicted to make up half the workforce by 2020.

The statistics referenced in this blog post refer to millennials across all industries, not just the public sector. We recognize that many individuals who join the public sector workforce want to make a difference and are committed to long-term career progression. That is why emphasizing career development and ladder-climbing opportunities is essential to providing them the opportunity to truly excel in their careers and contribute to the organization.

Predictive analytics technology can be utilized by HR departments in a number of ways. For recruiting specifically, predictive analytics leverages factors like past tenure and job performance to help determine if the candidate will be a good fit for the role and the organization.

Thank you again for your interest in this piece. Given how quickly the overall talent landscape is evolving, we hope to continue to provide useful content in the future.