How Can the Government Turn the Tide on Talent?

Gemma Hart is an independent HR consultant working remotely from as many coffee shops as she can find. Gemma has gained experience in a number of HR roles but now turns her focus towards connecting with a wider community and sharing her thoughts and advice on workplace wellness and engagement within companies.

A government is only ever as good as the people it hires. So, what happens when the talent pool dries up? This is a problem currently being faced by the US government, with not enough qualified, experienced professionals signing up to join their ranks.

If you’ve heard about the talent shortage but aren’t sure what’s going on, we’ve put together everything you need to know.

What is the Talent Shortage?

The US federal government is built on the foundations laid by hard-working individuals committed to working in the public sector. These talented individuals are the beating heart of our country. The bright sparks and devoted professionals are constantly innovating and improving the systems that keep America ticking over and that allow taxpayers and businesses to access the resources and services they need.

When the government fails to hire these individuals, the entire country feels the pain. Unfortunately, that is starting to happen.

Currently, there is a lack of new talent entering the US government. This is the talent shortage, and it’s incredibly dangerous for the nation. Rather than seeing a rollover of new, talented individuals climbing up the ladder and making change, the same people remain in their positions year after year as there’s no one there to replace them. Policies and processes stagnate, and the lifeblood of America dries up.

Government Employees Are Getting Older

Recently, a report discovered that there are over six times more employees in the government who are above 50 than under 30. Another report highlighted that employees over 60 had risen by 4% between 2008 and 2022. The problem here isn’t just a lack of new thinking, but that when these older employees start to retire, the government will be cleaned out.

Why Is There a Talent Shortage?

There are a huge range of factors contributing to the government’s talent shortage. Let’s take a look at some of them here.

Other Jobs Will Turn Employee’s Heads

Now more than ever, employees have the stability and flexibility to look elsewhere. If they’re not happy with their career, job sites and a market that’s looking for talent are making it easier than ever to up and leave. The culture among young people these days isn’t to find one job and stick to it, but to try everything.

The Private Sector is More Appealing

By being able to offer higher salaries than the public sector, it’s far more appealing to work for private companies rather than the government. It’s also more on-trend and stylish, with a shiny appeal that working for the federal government lacks.

Remote Work Is in Higher Demand

Remote working has seen a huge boost in the aftermath of covid. Whether to travel, look after family, or simply skip the commute, more people are demanding remote capabilities from their employer so that they can work from where they want. If the government can’t offer this, they’re going to lose out on the top talent.

women's leadership

Currently, there is a lack of new talent entering the US government.


Older Employees Aren’t Retiring

On some occasions, it’s neither the fault of the government nor the new employees that are stifling progress, but simply later retirements. Americans are consistently retiring later than they used to, creating an older workforce. If there are older employees in government, they’re likely to keep their position for longer, raising the average age and removing the possibility of someone younger taking over.

People Want Branding

Companies are in your face. You know who they are, and what they offer, and they invest so much into their branding that they already have a devoted audience of consumers willing to work for them. The government doesn’t have this edge. They don’t have millions to spend on new logos and blogs because they’re investing it in the country, but they don’t have the strong brand image that other companies do. This may not sound like a huge issue, but when it comes to drawing in talent, it really is.

How Can the Government Turn the Tide on Talent?

Though there is a wide range of problems, fortunately, there is also a wide range of solutions! By re-focusing their attention and re-working their strategy, the federal government can attract new, ambitious hires again.

One way to do this would be by advertising their competitive, attractive internship programs. They must pay well, offer flexible working where possible (a blend of in-office and remote work), and provide potential employees with a wealth of experience.

Burnout and mental health support is an aspect of government support that should be advertised more. The younger generation is far more clued-up on their well-being than those before them, and they’re looking for workplaces that can cater to their mental health needs. From managers trained to understand the signs of mental health disorders to offer mental health support schemes, the great work the government, does to support their staff should be a focus in their job descriptions.

Flexible and remote work needs to be widely available, as do incentives to stay on working for the government. Bonuses for excellent work and recognition of achievements are just as – if not more – important to new talent as they are to employees who have been in the government for years. Wherever the government offers these, they should be clearly marketed.

Parental leave, student loan repayment options, and health care packages are all vital to increasing the talent pool, too.

Final Words

The US government provides a wealth of job opportunities across a range of industries. With mental health support, good pay, and job security, why wouldn’t you choose to work alongside the other public sector heroes? By spreading news of the talent shortage, hopefully, it’ll inspire young, bright professionals to pursue a government career and drive America into the future.

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