Helping state and local governments tap Generation Y talent

Deloitte Consulting continues their survey of young professionals in the workforce with a look at “Generation Y” employees in state government. In particular, the latest survey compares Gen Y workers in government with their private sector counterparts. The survey finds that Gen Yers are motivated by factors beyond monetary gain and that state governments have a tremendous opportunity to tap eager Gen Y talent to make government more responsive, collaborative and efficient.

To answer the question, “why are you working here?” more Generation Y workers at the state and local government level pointed to factors such as location and the opportunity for growth and development over monetary compensation, when compared to Gen Y private sector counterparts. This is a “sign of Gen Yers’ well-documented sense of social responsibility. We know of many Gen Yers who want to be involved in their local communities in a way we haven’t seen in several decades,” the report said of government Gen Yers placing location and growth opportunities ahead of salary and benefits.

deloitte-blackberryWhen it came to job retention, all respondents placed “Increase your salary and/or bonus” as desirable. But according to the survey results, more Gen Yers chose “Provide appropriate recognition for contributions” “Offer flexible work hours” and “Promote a better work/life balance” than their private sector counterparts.

Another aspect of the survey identified what motivates Gen Yers to participate in innovative efforts or initiate new ideas. Monetary and/or other incentives associated with new ideas finished at the bottom of most Gen Yers in government. The report explained, “We believe that these results again point to Gen Yers’ gravitation toward the non-monetary benefits of employment, including tuition reimbursement and training programs, as well as the perceived stability of government jobs in today’s economy.”

Because many Baby Boomers are delaying their planned retirement, it “presents an opportunity for state governments to pair up Gen Yers with older workers in a way that leverages the knowledge capital of the more experienced employees while tapping the energy and technology capabilities of the Gen Yers – both of which are needed to carry out technology transformation initiatives.”

Other key action items state government agencies and their managers should consider in order to capitalize on these findings, include:

  • Leverage Gen Y in your service-delivery modernization initiatives. Because most Gen Yers in government are familiar with the latest in new Web-based and mobile technologies, agencies should leverage this innovative resource to transform their service delivery capabilities.
  • Reinforce your agency’s “brand”. Improving and promoting your agency’s image as a place Gen Yers can give back to their communities and enjoy their desired level of work/life balance is another way agencies can bulk up their recruiting and retention efforts. “State agencies may even have an advantage over some federal agencies in doing this because your transformation initiatives are hotbeds for technology development and the provision of health-care and social services,” the report states.
  • Use talent management strategies to develop talent for years to come. Talent management strategies that offer solutions and career paths that appeal to the unique needs of an increasingly diverse workforce can help state agencies compete in both the public and private sectors.
  • Embrace diversity of thought. Offering opportunities for growth and development, while tapping Gen Yer’s unique skills in communications and networking technology, can improve technology and operations decisions. Costly transformation isn’t needed, but instead, a refinement of existing organizational structure to accept changing and new ideas will help state agencies realize the full potential of their workforce.

Deloitte’s report concludes by advocating the inclusion and development of Gen Y workers now, especially during the economic downturn. “Government agencies currently have important advantages when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent – both from the commercial sector and straight out of college,” and those state employers that use their advantage to strategically select existing Gen Y talent, and attract new groups of Gen Yers as they come to the job market, are “likely to achieve significant strides in executing on their missions, both in the near term and the future.”

To read the full results of the survey, click here (.pdf)

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