Launch Slideshow

Image

The Replacements

The Replacements

  • Image

    http://www.pwmag.com/Images/tmp555%2Etmp_tcm111-1336024.jpg?width=300

    true

    Image

    300

    Photo: Stephanie Diani/Getty Images

    Millennial Lindsey Mannan (left center) and Gen Xer Kathy Mahboubian (right center) are being groomed by their baby-boomer mentors Jill Thomas (left) and Alan Oswald to navigate the ins and outs of the Engineering & Building Department in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

  • Image

    http://www.pwmag.com/Images/tmp556%2Etmp_tcm111-1336028.jpg?width=300

    true

    Image

    300

    Photo: Morton College

    Right: Since Morton College, Cicero, Ill., was refurbished to attract the latest generation of students, enrollment has increased. Two students share ideas over a laptop, which is built into a cubby wall that provides quiet computer space in the college's hallways.

  • Image

    http://www.pwmag.com/Images/tmp557%2Etmp_tcm111-1336034.jpg?width=200

    true

    Image

    200

    Photo: Operations and Maintenance Division, Washington County, Ore.

    Ben Walnum gets acquainted with the public sector as an intern for Washington County's Department of Land Use and Transportation.

3. Knowledge transfer. When employees retire, years of institutional knowledge leave with them. Shifting knowledge from older employees to younger can be done in many ways, including:

  • Shoulder-to-shoulder project work where younger workers can learn from more experienced employees on the job
  • A systematic documentation of knowledge on processes, certain sections of municipalities, etc.
  • Mentor and apprentice programs
  • 4. Recycling the baby boomers. Baby boomers live to work. After retirement, many get bored. Reester hires back retirees on a part-time or project basis, and requires them to spend 10% of their time mentoring young professionals. This helps his department span the workforce gap, and provides retirees with paid opportunities to continue contributing to the community.

    If your department doesn't have a succession plan with these four steps in place, consider starting one now. It can take up to three years to build a strategic plan, says Reester.

    UNTAPPED RESOURCES

    The sheer numbers in the retiring generation exceed those of its succeeding generations by the millions. There are simply not enough replacements.

    Part-time positions can fill the voids left by baby boomers, as well as the gaps in flexible work schedules. For example, with a part-timer covering mornings, a full-time employee can start his shift later in the day. Plus, the department won't have to pay benefits for part-timers.

    Job-sharing is another cost-effective alternative. Two part-timers can share a full-time position, with one working the first part of the week and the other working the last part.

    In addition to retirees, management consultant Voorhees advises that women—or men—with children who have the skills but don't want to work full-time are largely untapped sources.

    Many departments are also lifting residency requirements. People don't move for jobs anymore, says Voorhees, so if a public agency wants a better talent pool it must open up its boundaries.

    GETTING THE OKAY

    One of the biggest obstacles to creating a work environment that appeals to young professionals is the city council.

    “It is an uphill battle,” admits Reester. “And you won't win over some [public officials].”

    To convince public officials to change policies, programs, and even salary and benefits packages to appeal to workers who are very much in demand:

  • Remind them that infrastructure represents the community's largest investment.
  • Invite them to shadow employees for a day to better understand the department's daily challenges and needs.
  • Benchmark the department's output as compared to that of local private-sector, public works departments, or even other city departments.
  • Use outside resources to gain access to compensation studies. In Colorado, for example, Reester turns to the Mountain States Employment Council for comparisons on the number of employees, salary schedules, and benefits that other employers offer.
  • These methods endorse a common theme: Educate public officials on the issues your department faces—in this case, a need to accommodate a younger workforce—and the solutions that are available. Discuss the differences between the exiting and entering generations of employees and what to do to effectively compete for new talent.

    Successful succession begins with a plan.