Workforce planning remains an evergreen challenge for state IT departments, according to employment experts.
About 30 percent of the state workforce is eligible to retire in the next five years, and uncertainty about pension reform has prompted some to retire sooner. With the average age of current government employees 45.6, the public sector needs to step up recruitment of millenials, says James Honchar, deputy secretary for human resources and management for Pennsylvania.
Speaking at a National Association of State Technology Directors conference in Cincinnati, Honchar noted that recruiting millenials to public service requires a cultural shift.
“We would go to a couple of state universities and talk to college presidents and college deans and realized how little the faculty actually knows about how state government works and what jobs are out there,” Honchar said. He pointed out that state government offers every job classification represented in the private sector.
One thing that can work to government’s advantage is stability. Indeed, both Generation X workers and millenials rank job stability as the most important reason to enter state government. Not surprisingly, a better salary is what draws these folks away.
To retain top performers, Honchar advises identifying who these stars are early, developing programs to reward performance and competencies, and to create more flexibility for pay and advancement. “The workforce of the future is looking for flexibility, agility and the ability to be recognized, not just in terms of compensation,” he says.
What follows are some tips for recruiting and retaining millenials to IT positions:
- Offer a health plan with a high deductible.
- Shift away from defined benefit retirement programs to provide portability and limited vesting requirements.
- Give raises in the form of a cash payment instead of a cost of living adjustment.
- Offer retention bonuses or incentives for staff who retain certain licenses or certifications.
- Share salary ranges with prospective employees so they can see their future earning potential.
- Alter paid time of policies to give new employees more time off and have accrual taper off in later years.
- Consider salary adjustments to account for the high cost of living in certain areas.
- Offer tuition assistance or forgiveness.
- Give staff meaningful work, responsibility and accountability.
- Make people feel as though they’re a bigger part of something
- Provide career development and promotional opportunities.
- Offer access to state-of-the art technology.
- Provide long-term mentoring.
- Give workers flexibility through telework, flex time and job sharing.
- Focus on a strong onboarding process.
- Simplify and speed recruiting.
- Feature people in their early 20s in recruitment videos.
- Use recent college graduates as part of your recruitment team.
For more insight into how states are tackling IT recruitment challenges, see “Public Sector Seeks to Solve Workforce Woes.”