Blog Post

3 Ways to Address Brain Drain in Government Agencies

Cornerstone Editors

In the age of constantly evolving technology, it's easy for any company to fall behind. But state and local government agencies face a particular set of challenges: budget cuts, an older generation of employees, a lack of resources and a strict hierarchy that can stand in the way of moving forward. This hinders opportunities to enlist young, fresh talent and retain them within the agency.

A recent survey from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence found more than 90 percent of state and local government human resource managers rank recruiting and retaining qualified personnel as the most important issue they face. While government agencies can't often compete with the salary, perks, and brand of young tech startups or large organizations, they can find budget-conscious ways to create a compelling work environment and career opportunities. In addition to the civic impact and fulfilling work government agencies offer, it's important to provide talent with ways to learn and grow on their own terms.

Here are three ways government agencies can bring in and hold on to top talent.

1) Be Flexible

It's important to provide employees with flexible scheduling and work environments. By offering mobile training or an online onboarding experience, employees can work from anywhere, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

According to the Center for State and Government Excellence study, only 22 percent of agencies offer regular telecommuting for eligible positions and 28 percent of workplaces didn't offer any flex work practices. By providing a flexible workplace, agencies can improve employee engagement, as well as increase dedication to the company. According to the Best Places to Work data, work life balance has proven to be a key differentiator when people are considering where to work. Additionally, the public sector lags behind the private industry in offering these flexibilities.

2) Provide a Modern Learning Experience

As HR ushers in a younger, new talent pool along with the latest technology, it's important to remember the older workforce. Training is ongoing, says Steve Dobberowsky in a recent webinar on how to attract and retain the incoming generation, senior principal of thought leadership and advisory services at Cornerstone OnDemand. So to help different generations succeed at the same place, provide everyone with video content to learn new skills and keep the user experience simple. Also, start automating the application, screening, and onboarding processes to utilize your employees' time.

As Dobberowsky says, people no longer go start at one organization with the mindset that they are going to stay there for their entire career. Therefore, it's important to give young employees the resources to learn new concepts. By thinking about what's next in technology—such as artificial intelligence and smart workflows—instead of staying set in old ways, you will start to attract the type of workforce that will bring in fresh ideas to build the future of your agency.

3) Focus on Your Employer Brand

According to the same study by the Center for State and Government Excellence, 84 percent of recruitment for state and local government agencies is done through online job advertising. It's important to amp up your online presence, Dobberowsky says, because 84 percent of workers would consider leaving their job for another company with a strong reputation. Agencies should be vigilant about maintaining their online presence and take active steps to maintain that identity. In today’s technological world, people look to what others are saying about things before making up their minds on issues such as ’where do I want to work?’

Most people do their research online. Take a look at your Glassdoor account to see how your ratings are doing and respond to employee comments. Adopt a consumer-style strategy for marketing and engaging potential employees. Use social media to your advantage and update LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter with useful information about your agency, as well as marketable content that shows off a mobile and diverse workforce. By taking control of your agency's online presence, you can start to draw in the ideal candidate for your agency—and take action to make the employee want to stay long term.

For more information, check out our latest webinar, "How to Attract and Retain the Incoming Generation of Government Employees."

Photo: Creative Commons

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