Strategies to Improve Recruitment and Retention in Federal Service

Considering that 2019 Census Data shows that Baby Boomers (late 50s to mid-70s) make up 22.4% of the US population, and Millennials (mid-20s to late 30s) make up 20.5%, and Gen Z (teens to early 20s) make up 19.5%, it does not seem unrealistic that young adults entering the workforce could easily fill the growing number of vacancies created by retiring federal employees. Unfortunately, that’s not been the case.

Understaffed Agencies

In addition to the natural attrition of retirement, many more federal employees have left the workforce due to the pandemic. This combined loss of institutional knowledge and shortage of human resources has caused significant understaffing ― to the point of crisis in a growing number of agencies. Recruiting young job seekers is now imperative if these agencies are to achieve their missions.

Creating A Sense of Belonging

Young job seekers today prefer to work for organizations that match their values – embrace technology, engage through social media, promote healthy work-life balance, offer flexibility, and respect individual authenticity. Although the federal workspace has made significant improvements in embracing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, expanding teleworking, and modernizing all aspects of technology, these efforts are still in progress.

Actionable Strategies

The following strategies could potentially attract younger job seekers to public service by meeting them where they are:

  • Attract them – Follow the example set by a pilot run by the National Park Service and the Department of Health and Human Services that demonstrated how to create outstanding job descriptions that the private sector cannot match. Learn how you can follow their lead: Improving Federal Hiring through the Use of Effective Assessment Strategies to Advance Mission Outcomes
  • Engage with them – Use social media to promote public service as a choice to positively impact the quality of life in America. Don’t let social media restrictions stop you. You can promote, congratulate, and express your viewpoint on the benefits of public service as you share official social media posts.
  • Help them apply – Provide applicants with some form of personalized assistance in navigating available federal jobs. Offer to spend an afternoon sitting down with them (in-person or virtually) to help identify which career-focused, stable government jobs would best fit their skills and experience.
  • Welcome them – Foster a culture that embraces diversity, equality, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging.
  • Respect them – Emphasize work-life balance and other ‘whole person’ management philosophies that go beyond measuring work performance. Learn more about this philosophy in our on-demand webinar, Building Strategies for Resilient Workers Part 1 and Part 2.
  • Retain them – Develop mentorship programs that ensure recruits learn how to navigate public service opportunities with success. Not sure how? Our recent panel discussion, It Starts with Us: Forging the Future of Federal Leadership, emphasized the necessity of mentorship and many other ways to retain talent good people.

Challenging? Yes. Impossible? No. By thinking creatively and acting intuitively, you can empower your team, department, and agency to better serve people’s needs. We hope these ideas help resolve your agency’s understaffing issues. We are here to help. Management Concepts offers comprehensive people operations training, advisory services, human resources certificate programs, and custom learning solutions that can help you optimize productivity, provide professional development to enhance careers, and serve the public.

Please join us for a one-hour panel discussion on Building the Next Generation of Leadership in the Federal Government on Oct 21, 2021, at 12:00 PM EDT.

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Written by:
Natalie Komitsky
Human Capital & Human Resources



Media Type:
Gen Z  Millennials  

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