Here are four strategies for engaging the next generation:
1. Expand social media and digital outreach
The majority of millennial recruits for government come from internship programs, with 78 percent of survey respondents relying on internships to recruit young employees. But agencies can reach even more millennials through social media. Creating social channels allows you to develop targeted messaging and outreach to potential candidates, both increasing direct recruits and the number of hires who enter the internship talent funnel.
Jennifer McDowell, chief information officer at the Realignment Project, successfully used social media recruiting when she worked for the Defense Department. “We worked to try to incorporate social media and YouTube recruitment videos into hiring aerospace engineers,” says McDowell. “For really illustrating different types of opportunities, social media geared toward sharing and recruiting proved to be successful.”
2. Offer workplace flexibility
Workplace flexibility is a priority for job seekers, and particularly for millennials; a recent report from Workplace Trends found that 75 percent of employees rank it as their top benefit.
According to the survey, most government agencies seem to be listening; 73 percent of respondents are implementing flextime or teleworking policies. Unfortunately, an OPM survey reveals that a third of employees are not aware of these benefits. Raising awareness about such a benefit is crucial to increasing morale and attracting top talent—particularly when employee engagement is at a four-year low, 56.9 percent, according to Best Places to Work data.
3. Implement nonmonetary compensation
Despite low engagement rates, government employees report strong dedication to their work—with 96 percent of respondents willing to put in extra effort to work done. As John Palguta, vice president of the Partnership for Public Service, points out: “That can be untapped and wasted potential if we don’t provide them with the right work environment, the tools, the resources and the leadership they need to do their job well.”
Resources to invest in talent management are often low, but government agencies can create a culture of recognition with nonmonetary strategies, including employee awards, verbal and written appreciation, and celebrations of accomplishments or special dates like birthdays. A team of hard-working employees alongside an organization that recognizes this work is set to attract similarly dedicated young people. Over 60 percent of agencies are already using a nonmonetary strategy, and 18 percent report they are in the process of implementing it.
4. Create opportunities for feedback and dialogue
In order for any sustainable culture change to occur, management needs to listen and communicate with employees.
Fifty percent of survey respondents say their agency’s feedback process is unsuccessful, and 80 percent cite agency culture as the biggest barrier to change. Developing a firm foundation for the future of government requires listening to feedback and bridging the gap between employees’ needs and concerns and current leadership. Not only will creating opportunities for dialogue encourage young talent to speak up and participate, it will also generate a confident generation of future leaders.