UC can save government from drowning in “retirement tsunami”

15th December, 2011 - Posted by Meredith Lawrence - 2 Comments

The “graying” of the federal workforce has been a topic of much discussion over the past few years inside the Beltway. Ultimately, baby boomers that had flooded into the government as public servants are all rapidly approaching retirement age. The impact that this mass exodus of government employees will have on agencies will be significant.

Prior to the Obama Administration working feverishly to make public service “cool” again, top talent shied away from government employment due to misconceptions such as low pay, strict rules and others. This has resulted in a scarcity of middle management, since recruiting was low during the time between when the baby boomers entered the government and today.

The retirement of these employees is ultimately creating a brain drain; siphoning off important and necessary knowledge, experience and government know-how. This phenomenon was chronicled by Michael O’Connell of Federal News Radio in his recent article, “Are feds prepared for retirement tsunami?”

And unlike previous years when the retirement of these employees was discussed as something to be concerned about in the future, it’s actually starting to become a real problem. According to the article, the rate of retirement applications has risen 25 percent during the first 10 months of 2011.

As these retirements continue, the government will be faced with some different and unique challenges. They’ll need to increase the productivity of remaining employees to help cover for the talent that they’re losing. They’ll need to recruit and retain new talent to fill these positions. And, ultimately, they’ll need to try to retain some knowledgeable retirement-aged employees to help train new recruits.

Luckily, these are all areas where advanced Unified Communications (UC) solutions, such as video teleconferencing (VTC), can help.

By utilizing VTC solutions, government agencies can better embrace telework, allowing employees to work where, when and how they’re most productive. They can also eliminate unneeded business travel and in-person meetings by enabling face-to-face communication from any location. This ultimately makes all employees more productive and reduces time wasted traveling and getting to meetings. This extra time can enable employees to handle some of the workload that was previously handled by individuals that retired.

VTC is equally useful when it comes to recruiting, hiring and retaining top talent to fill government vacancies. New generations entering the workforce highly prize work-life balance and workplace flexibility. VTC and telework enable them to be productive from anywhere, which eliminates commutes and improves work-life balance. This can be an instrumental perk for new employees.

VTC can also help widen the area in which agencies search for talent. By enabling employees to work from anyway, agencies can also cast a wider geographic net since new employees will not be bound to going into the office everyday.

Finally, by enabling retirement-aged employees to massage their schedules, increase flexibility and telework, the government could entice them to extend their careers just long enough for their agencies to recruit and train their replacements. Ultimately, collecting a paycheck while working from their new home on some beach somewhere may be an offer they simply can’t refuse.

The “graying” of the federal workforce is no longer just an impending problem. Government employees are rapidly approaching retirement age and looking to begin the next phase of their lives, en masse. By utilizing today’s advanced UC solutions, the government can help prepare for their departure, and even keep them around a little longer to help make the transition smoother.


Mark Pilipczuk

December 22nd, 2011 at 3:56 pm    

I don’t see the graying of the federal workforce as a problem at all. Businesses have been shedding the middle management layer for years and trying push decision-making and authority down as a result.

That means that government will have to compete even harder with the private sector for talent. If the private sector has to lower the bar in terms of rules, process and red tape to enable the middle-management-less employees to get their jobs done, then it will be even harder for government to attract those employes.

Instead, government should be de-layering the bureaucracy and using those more flexible policies not to keep the old hands around, but rather attract the best and brightest to government and public service.

[…] there’s the often referenced and always present issue with the graying of the workforce. We’ve discussed it here multiple times, and it’s been the topic of conversation for many years in the government trade […]

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