3 Ways to Develop Millennials into the Next Generation of Government Leaders


It’s election season (again), and in between attack ads and uncertainty around the winners’ policy changes, government agencies are facing a litany of challenges to overcome. The expected talent exodus of retiring employees means that HR teams are tasked with identifying, engaging, and training new members of the workforce.

The 2016 annual Human Capital Management for Government (HCMG) Report, conducted in partnership with Cornerstone OnDemand and WBR Digital, makes the case for why government agencies need to prioritize finding new talent. Fifty-five percent of stakeholders in this arena ranked filling the “silver tsunami” talent void as their biggest focus. Developing that same talent was their #2 goal.

Fending off the two-headed dragon of tight budgets and competition from the private sector, which his typically offers higher salaries and offers better perks, agency stakeholders are seeking new ways to engage with Millennials, who typically are more mobile and social. To win the talent wars, agency leaders need to implement three critical strategies for attracting, retaining, and managing the performance of the next wave of talent.

1) Make Time for Mentorship

Bridging the gap between new hires and existing employees is essential for building a pipeline of new leaders. This is particularly true for the rising Millennial workforce, but 53 percent of government agencies report not having any development program in place geared toward Millennials.

As Millennials tend to crave quick advancement opportunities and prefer jobs they are passionate about, actively pairing them with top industry veterans can bring out the highest potential in these young workers. Mentorship programs will not only help promising employees develop skills, but also inspire them to follow in their mentor’s footsteps.

2) Provide Regular Feedback

Training and development was the most successful government HR initiative this year, but there’s still room to grow when it comes to consistent employment development. While 51 percent of respondents reported excellent performance or current success with training efforts, feedback remains intermittent—33 percent of agencies’ efforts of providing continuous feedback were not very successful, and a surprising 14 percent were unsuccessful.

This is a particular problem for Millennials, who prefer continuous feedback and consistent opportunities to grow and learn. While this attitude can be prime for a career in government—where there is a strong culture of dedication and will to get the job done—it can also lead to boredom in seemingly slow-moving agencies. Government leaders that foster a culture of “always developing” will be rewarded with an engaged and eager workforce, ready to tackle the next challenge.

3) Invest in New “Perks”

While this year witnessed some budget increases, the high priorities of recruitment and employee development means that investing more heavily in compensation still isn’t feasible for most organizations. Without high salaries and frequent bonuses to attract top young talent, agencies are finding other meaningful ways to reward employees and maintain morale.

For example, teleworking and flexible hours are offered by 88 percent agencies. Non-monetary recognition strategies—used by 80 percent of agencies—are also a cost-effective and well-received tactic, and can be as simple as sending an acknowledgement email, writing a thank you card or taking a team out to lunch.

To learn more about developing young employees into government leaders, download the full HCMG 2016 report, “Nurturing Leaders in a Diverse and Engaged Workforce.”

Please note: this article was first published on Rework on March 8th.

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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