Blog Post

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

Jim Gill

Vice President, Public Sector Sales, at Cornerstone

Another election year is upon us and, in the midst of the public drama and uncertainty surrounding the 2016 proceedings, government organizations are facing their own challenges. With the "silver tsunami" of Baby Boomers exiting the workforce, HR departments are tasked with recruiting and training a new generation of employees to take their place.

The 2016 annual Human Capital Management for Government (HCMG) Report from Cornerstone OnDemand conducted in collaboration with WBR Digital emphasizes this urgent need to bring in new talent to federal and state governments. The majority (55 percent) of government leaders ranked replacing retiring employees as their top talent management priority. A close second? Developing those replacements.

Faced with tight budgets and competition from the lucrative and perk-heavy private sector, government leaders are seeking new ways to engage with the mobile and social generation that is millennials. Government agencies should explore three key strategies for attracting, retaining and developing the next generation of government 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, read the infographic, "2016 Trends and Challenges in Government Talent Management." CLICK HERE for the infographic.

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