Launch Slideshow

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Picking up the Pieces

Picking up the Pieces

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Get ready for “talent wars”

Around 75 million Baby Boomers are on the verge of retirement, but less than 25% of employers are concerned about how losing all that expertise and institutional knowledge will affect operations. They assume that in this buyer’s market it will be relatively easy to fill the positions.

Guess again, says personality-assessment provider Birkman International.

As workforce demographics continue to shift and job opportunities increase, talent becomes increasingly scarce. Organizations that don’t plan ahead will be overcome by fierce competition for candidates, according to “The New Reality 2012: The Talent War .” Now that job hopping is no longer a stigma, the rate of departures for any reason — retirement or for a better job elsewhere — is increasing as employees become free agents who leverage social media to research organizations and expand their professional networks.

Pay and pay raises are minimal. I got an increase by changing jobs, leaving behind a community where I’d worked for almost 15 years. – Ohio city engineer making $65,001 - $70,000.

The only way to get a raise is to be promoted, but that’s easier said than done. I applied for a management position and they hired someone from the outside. – Administrative support, engineering, for a consolidated department serving 250,001-500,000 people in Mississippi; makes less than $30,000.

No raises for any non-uniformed employees over the last four years. It’s challenging, to say the least. It feels like our council is playing departments against each other to create turmoil. – Administrative support for a Pennsylvania city of 5000 people making $35,001 - $40,000.

Stories like these are why morale and job satisfaction are at an all-time low.

Since January 2008, the Gallup Inc.-Healthways Inc. Well-Being Index has surveyed 1,000 Americans daily to produce seven indices: well-being, life evaluation, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors, basic access, and work environment. Comprised of job satisfaction, ability to use one’s strengths, supervisor’s treatment, and whether the environment is open and trusting, work environment consistently ranks at or near last. 

Public-sector employees are additionally burdened by negative perceptions of government. We’ve seen how this attitude affected Indiana and Wisconsin state employees, but cities and counties aren’t immune from the temptation to balance budgets at employees’ expense. To qualify for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, for example, San Bernardino, Calif., cut $26 million in pay and benefits for city workers in February.

Public employees are the target of reductions during these economic times and I foresee benefits being eroded in the future. I don’t completely disagree with hard policies in hard times, but it does take adjustment of one’s lifestyle and future planning. – California county GIS department manager making $115,001 - $120,000.

All of this alarms readers who recognize that the wave of Baby Boomer retirements has crested and is about to crash. With attracting and retaining top-notch talent more important than ever, many fear for their department’s future – with good reason, says Birkman. “The demographic reality is that demand for employees with the right skills, experience, and fit is rising at a time when the supply is set to fall.”

It’s increasingly difficult to attract qualified professionals due to the lack of stability in local government, coupled with recent actions regarding state pension benefits.— EPA Region 4 special district manager making $105,001 - $110,000.

Now that other agencies are hiring, we’re losing people. In 2007, our salaries were behind by about $10,000. Then the economy tanked. We’ve had no cost-of-living adjustments since and probably won’t at least through 2014. I’m worried that productivity expectations won’t be adjusted to account for the fact that we’re losing institutional knowledge, and that we’ll be recruiting from the bottom of the applicant pool and won’t have the time or funding to train the new hires. — EPA Region 10 city traffic manager making $105,001 - $110,000.

The wage gap between the private and public sectors should be closed to entice talented administrators to continue serving the public. – Public works director of mid-size (pop. 100,001-250,000) Michigan city making $105,001 - $110,000.