Government 2.0 challenge, reducing employee turnover

Did you know that “government-wide, 24.2 percent of newly hired employees leave within a two-year time frame“? (This is based upon research from Booz Allen Hamilton).

I talk to a lot of people in Government positions, primarily those focused on driving government 2.0 changes. These people are often not managers, they are simply passionate people working to create positive change in government. Many also fall into the 2 or 3 year range where I see them getting burnt out, frustrated, and thinking about moving onto the private sector. One of the biggest changes to government 2.0 may simply be retaining these talented employees.

While reasons for leaving government vary, these are some of the common themes I am seeing in my conversations:

  • Lack of support. In the majority of cases government 2.0 is still being driven by a handful of passionate employees. Even in cities and agencies with support from the top there are layers of management that simply do not support these efforts. The employees doing the work are often doing it as their “night job” and burn-out is occurring.
  • Lack of career paths and upward movement. When I was young, children would sit at the “kids table” for holidays. The only way to move up to the adult table was for someone to move on. Government is much the same. Some of our most talented government 2.0 advocates are stuck, waiting for retirements as their only way to progress in their careers.
  • Lack of recognition. Government is not known for paying well and the temptation to bring skills to the private sector, where more money can be made, is a major motivator.

The danger we face with this turnover is that the 24.2% that leave government roles quickly are, in my opinion, more likely to be the A-players, not the B and C players. The support for Fearless Leadership, which I wrote about last week, is critical, it is needed immediately. Government 2.0 advocates must also do their part and understand the importance of marketing their successes both inside and outside of their organizations. They must demonstrate the return on investment for their efforts. The return may be either money or political capital for their leaders. Both are important in government and this return must be regularly documented and communicated.

Should we worry about this turnover? Absolutely. Government 2.0 efforts are still in early stages throughout the world. We have some early success stories but more are needed. It is time to embrace, and mandate change before this window of opportunity is closed.


Originally posted on Government in The Lab.

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