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How to Convince Government Millennials to Stay

Now that the dust has settled on election day, it’s time to talk about your future. Even with administration changes and department shifts, what can you do to keep top-notch folks on your team? And more specifically, how can you keep government millennials on board for the long haul?

According to Pew Research Center, I represent the oldest millennial, having been born in 1981. Or, as my co-worker says, I am “ the most-wise millennial.” As such, I feel sufficiently confident that I can speak on the subject of attracting and keeping competent millennial workers. In my two years working for a city government agency, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside and/or manage several millennial workers. Aside from learning how to use Snapchat from one of our interns (which I promptly deleted later that same day), there have been many useful takeaways and insights I’ve gathered in my time at work.

Reward Hard Work and Offer Praise

In my years prior to working in a government agency, I worked as a career education manager for two local non-profits. As a team member in other roles before becoming a manager, I knew the value and importance of receiving praise for a job well done. When I became a manager, I made it a priority to laud those staff members who shined during the day, even if they were not members of my own team.

You would not believe the impact you can have when you write a simple email pointing out a great customer interaction or evidence of skills exhibited in resolving a complaint. As I transitioned to working in my government role, I’ve continued this practice. Sometimes these small gestures of recognition make the world of difference.

Let Millennials Make a Difference in Your Community

I moved to the Washington, D.C. five years ago with the hopes of working for community-based organizations and government agencies that were mission-based. I succeeded in securing positions where I was able to help others gain the skills to improve their lives and the rewards for me personally were plentiful. Having the chance to give back after I was so fortunate myself kept me motivated during the toughest days.

In our agency, our director encourages all staff members to seek out opportunities where we get to engage with the community and share our skills and talents. Regardless of the type of position we have, whether it be policy work, communications, administrative or finance, each staff member relishes the opportunity to participate in community events and functions where they get to engage with stakeholders from all parts of our city.

Empower Team Members to Innovate

Millennials want to feel valued for their input, contributions and participation on a daily basis. It is your job as a leader to cultivate and develop your team and allow them to grow and flourish. If a tech-savvy millennial comes to you with a new tool that will cut efficiency in half, let them run with it.

Last year, I was working on our annual report with our team and was under the gun to get it completed on deadline. Writing content with our policy analysts and then formatting and designing the report proved to be a huge task. I had a terrific comms intern working with us who I asked to work on graphics for the report. Using a free tool, this intern wowed the entire team with her expertise in creating infographics and visually-appealing images which complemented our content perfectly. Given the opportunity, your government millennials can be empowered to create innovative solutions to your challenges. That kind of trust goes a long way in encouraging folks to stay with you.

Offer Flexible Work Schedules

Despite some recent tendencies in the federal government to severely limit flexible work options like teleworking, one additional strategy in keeping talented staff happy is to offer alternative schedules. In my agency, we facilitate four to five nighttime board meetings per month, which can be taxing on time and effort during the week. To counteract the late nights, our team has the option of choosing to telework once a week or working longer on some days to earn a day off once per pay period.

Use these strategies to keep government millennials on your payroll. How do you keep millennials satisfied in your agency? Or, if you are a millennial, what would make you stay in your government role? Comment below!

Paul Negron is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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Profile Photo Blake Martin

Thanks for sharing this, Paul. As a mid-generation millennial, I shudder sometimes hearing how those from other generations have lumped us together and sought to generalize so as to better understand, and I think the items you noted above cut right to the heart of the matter- that we just want to feel useful/appreciated, and that we want to make a positive difference. Especially in government, I think your four sections include solid action items for improving retention of gov millennials.