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Myths Around Millennials In Government

It’s not cool, they said. Millennials aren’t interested in government work, they said. We’ve all heard about the aging workforce and the lack of interest by millennials to join government. But, what we haven’t heard is – is it all really true? And either way, what should people in government know about millennials?

A recent report by Deloitte, Understanding Millennials in Government: Debunking Myths About our Youngest Public Servants, analyzes whether or not these preconceived notions are really true.

Sean Morris, Human Capital Lead at Deloitte, and William Eggers, Public Sector Research Director at Deloitte, sat down with Christopher Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program to discuss the findings of the report.

The first myth lies in misunderstanding. “The millennial turnover rate is not higher than previous generations. It’s actually about the same as it was when Gen-Xers were entering the government workforce,” Eggers clarified.

He furthered the need to stress the difference between turnover and tenure rates, which apparently is the reason for much of the confusion. In fact, the report states that “When young workers do leave government jobs, their decision to do so can be explained largely by their age and the business cycle, rather than by a generational propensity to hop from one job to another.”

Consequently, the data that Deloitte collects during their annual, global, millennial survey tells us that the number of federal employees that are looking to leave over the next year is significantly less than what we’re seeing in the private sector. Morris shared that only 36 percent in government are saying they want to move on within the next year compared to 51 percent in the private sector. “Therefore, there appears to be a little bit more stickiness with millennials in the federal government than we see in the rest of the world.” Where might this stickiness come from?

Some of this may be explained by millennials’ happiness around the work they do in government. Therefore, the second myth to be debunked by the report is this: millennials are less passionate about their jobs in government. Eggers said data shows that 95 percent of millennial government workers reported that they agree strongly with the statement: “I’m proud to work for my employer.”

However, it does remain true that while government careers may be becoming less attractive for some millennials, those who do pursue a life of federal public service are just as engaged and proud as other generations before them – if not even a bit more, Eggers said. But, how can we encourage more millennials to join the government ranks?

Although the jury still seems to be out on whether or not it is difficult to recruit millennials, there are a few inherent issues that explain the low number of millennials in the government sphere. Some of these reasons are as follows: millennials are starting later, the government hasn’t been hiring them, and there is a tighter labor market due to the recent recession.

Although the “cool” factor argument does hold true, Morris reminded us that the recent recession had a “meteoric knock effect, not just for millennials, but for all generations.” Those who held jobs stayed in their roles for longer periods of time and reduced funding led to less hires overall. In some ways, fewer millennials in the government workforce was simply a matter of poor timing, but this doesn’t mean government shouldn’t attempt to better the way they recruit millennials.

As Morris pointed out: “The reality is that people are not going to spend 30 years with one employer, be that with the public or private sector. It’s just the reality of where we are as a working culture today.” Yet, if anything, this report tells us that it is vital to continue to do our best to recruit millennials into government – and that it will be time well spent.

 

If you wish to read more about millennials in government, please click here

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