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How the Public Sector Can Win Back Millennials (Contributed)

Government agencies are beginning to embrace tactics and are adopting modern workforce technologies that are changing the way they manage employees.

The organization of the future is one with a digital mindset, with the private sector taking the lead in implementing new tools to attract and retain talent. Government agencies are beginning to embrace similar tactics and are adopting modern workforce technologies that are changing the way they manage employees, from recruitment through retirement. 

Younger generations including sought-after millennials expect to be able to search and apply for jobs from any device, anytime, with minimal time and effort. They will likely be put off by a cumbersome and outdated application process that is indicative of what their work experience will be like.  
Talent is the lifeblood of any organization, and with the nation at near full employment every organization must compete and differentiate its value to prospective employees. Here are some ways agencies can put technology to work to find, attract and retain a talented workforce: 
  • Play to your strengths – Surveys show younger generations are attracted to the idea of meaningful work and making a difference. To appeal to these candidates, government agencies need to communicate the rewarding and service-oriented aspects of a career in the public sector. It’s important to share stories of the difference your agency makes no matter what its mission. Creative marketing tactics could include improving an agency’s social media presence and modern, engaging websites, using “meaningful work” messaging in all recruiting and application processes. 
  • Implement human capital management (HCM) solutions and mobile compatibility – Government agencies can adopt modern HCM technologies to expedite recruitment and hiring processes. Algorithmic insights help users make better decisions throughout the application, from highlighting best-fit candidates to hiring managers, suggesting other possible career opportunities for candidates and predicting candidate offer acceptance to recruiters. It’s also important to make communications user-friendly and compatible with a mobile interface. Although it was previously thought that mobile applications would alienate a lower-income population, the inverse is actually true. Smartphones are often the only piece of technology lower-income groups possess, so implementing a mobile strategy is important to reach all demographics. 
  • Centralize workforce information – Updating and maintaining employee data in a central location allows for real-time assessment and data insight that could help re-deploy an agency’s workforce while also giving employees new growth opportunities. Employees often have skills that they may not be using in their current role. Storing this information in a database can help agencies identify who to consider for new projects. When the data is aggregated and analyzed, it can also reveal where more training might be necessary agencywide. Finally, aggregating employee data also helps plan for the future by maintaining inventory of all internal talent available to replace retiring employees. 
  • Make the experience user-friendly – Government agencies have been using artificial intelligence (AI) to create more citizen-centric experiences. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau is considering using an AI-powered call center that uses virtual digital assistants (“chatbots”) to answer questions about the 2020 census, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has been finding more ways to incorporate AI into law enforcement. These technologies could also make the hiring process more candidate-centric, with chatbots putting a more user-friendly face on applying for a government job.
Our society is facing an aging workforce that is retiring at the rate of 10,000 employees per day. The problem is even more acute for government agencies, where on average workforces are five to 10 years older than in the private sector. In order to replace this retiring workforce, agencies will need to work harder and more creatively — including using new digital technologies — to attract and retain talent. The good news is that these technologies are available today.
Celeste O'Dea is senior manager of public sector application strategy and business development for Oracle and is responsible for helping public-sector agencies identify, operationalize and implement integrated application strategies for their organizations. She holds an MBA from University of Phoenix, a BA in mathematics education from Syracuse University, and holds a Project Management Professional certification.