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Posts from the ‘Employees’ Category

Where is the Government workforce headed?

Recently, the Center for State & Local Government Excellence (SLGE) released it’s report on State & Local Government workforce trends in 2017.  The data is particularly compelling because they have benchmarked data from years past to compare it to.  In some cases, the data tells us something we most likely suspected; like a continued upward trajectory in hiring.  But the statistics still paint a picture of where we are headed in the coming years.

The strong need to prepare for the future is glaringly obvious as you read through the findings.  Fifty-five percent of retirement-eligible employees are either continuing as planned or accelerating their retirement dates.  The numbers reflect the pressure that is on to put succession plans into high-gear.  It’s easy to imagine what 55% of knowledge walking out the door, without any contingency strategy, would do to an organization.

Governing writer, Patrick Ibarra, talks about this growing need in his article, Why Governments Need to Ramp Up Succession Planning.  He writes, “Effective succession planning in government is an ongoing, dynamic process, not a static, one-time objective.”  As entities plan for the future, succession planning should not be considered a “trend”, but rather a change in the way of doing business.  This need to transfer knowledge in an effort to mitigate disruption in service will continue long after the term ‘succession planning’ has lost it’s place on the “hot topics” list.




Student Loan Payment – Another employee benefit

Student loan debt is growing at an alarming rate.  US student loan debt in the US in 2017 is at $1.3 trillion.  That’s Trillion with a “T”.  It’s no wonder that employees feel underwhelmed on payday when a good chunk of their pay is going to their student loans.  I recently read an article on the City of Memphis and their effort to help employees deal with this very real issue.

Memphis put a new program in place for employees who have been with the city for at least one year to contribute $50/m to an employees student loan account.  For the lucky ones who never had student loan debt, subsidizing $600 a year may not seem like a lot, but it actually can bring the length of the loan down by quite a bit.  This is a fantastic way to attract employees and potentially keep them.

Though I haven’t heard any stories about those in Memphis taking advantage of this benefit, there are some stories from the private sector that highlight just how powerful this can be to any retention strategy.  A 23 year old working at PricewaterhouseCoopers spoke about how grateful she is to this benefit to help her knock down the $57,000 she has in student loans.  “When someone helps you, it makes you feel appreciated.”

We might be a long way to seeing this widely adopted across more of the public sector, but as it grows in the private sector it will be something to contend with.  While only about 4% of companies offered some form of student loan assistance in 2016, that could increase five-fold to 20% by 2018, according to a survey of 320 companies by Willis Towers Watson.  Unconventional benefits are becoming the new norm.

The Influence of Payroll Errors on Retention

No one wants to be paid less than they deserve, but just how impactful are payroll errors to employee morale and retention?  A recent study done by the Workforce Institute at Kronos on American workers reveals how just one payroll error can change an employees perception of their workplace.

According to the research, “nearly half of American workers (49 percent) will seek new employment after just two payroll mistakes, such as being paid late or incorrectly.”  A staggering 24% will look for new employment after the first offense and another 25% said they will do this after the second mistake.  This demonstrates just how seriously employees take their paycheck.  It doesn’t matter if you are struggling to make ends meet or saving money for retirement, your paycheck is a reward for your hard work.

Another interesting fact divulged by the study is “Baby Boomers are most forgiving of payroll errors.”  We know there are differences among the generations when it comes to compensation, see Compensation Among the Generations, but there is also a variation in tolerance for a blunder of their pay.  “Nearly half (44 percent) of American employees aged 55 and older say they would stay at their job as long as they are eventually paid correctly. That’s in stark contrast to their colleagues aged 18-29 (13 percent,) 30-39 (17 percent,) and 40-54 (27 percent,) who are much less willing to stay even if they’re eventually paid correctly.”

As states and localities continue to refine their recruitment and retention strategies, these are important facts to consider.  It might not be how much you get paid, but rather how accurately you get paid.  For more stats, read Payroll Problems May Undermine Employee Experience, Finds Workforce Institute at Kronos Survey.

Tales of Innovation in Government Finance

Just got back from Denver where I attended the 111th Annual GFOA Conference.  Wow, we’ve come a long way in 111 years!  What I love most about attending this event are the stories of innovation that inspire and motivate other communities to want to do more for their citizens.  As I mapped out my agenda of sessions that I wanted to attend, topics like transparency, ROI, engagement strategy, and ERP looked promising.

Naturally, I was looking for some sessions that focused on the workforce and I found it in a session called “How to Measure a High Performing Finance Office”.  This session was so crowded that I had to sit on the floor for the whole hour and a half.  But it was worth it.  Great speakers, interesting perspectives, and very informative.  Brendan Hanlon, CFO at the City & County of Denver kicked things off by addressing data and how it impacts performance management.  He advises to not just look at the data, but look for ways to improve performance.

Denver uses a Business Intelligence (BI) tool to help create dashboards to report and measure using data from different departments.  For example, he showed a chart depicting paychecks issued through direct deposit and those issued with an actual check.  The goal is defined; Get more people using direct deposit.  They use the data they had to measure the progress made over the past couple of years.

The next speaker, Judith Marte, CFO at Miami-Dade County Schools, came in talking about sustainability (and not the “green” kind).  No, this is the sustainability that goes hand-in-hand with succession planning.  Very early in her presentation, she said “I want to have a staff who can function without me.”  That statement can take anyone aback when they first hear it, but what she meant was she should not be the only one who can do her job.  She must have successors who could easily step in should she leave or retire.  She goes on to give advice about looking for “non-traditional” candidates and taking the inexperienced and training them.

To wrap up the session was the City of Madison Finance Director, David Schmiedicke.  David approached the topic of performance by speaking to cross training your employees to address areas with the greatest need and pair up with mentors as needed. He also made an interesting point about turn-over being an opportunity.  That it brings in new people who might have different skill sets and be willing to more freely embrace web-based solutions.

Overall, the theme of measuring and developing your workforce rang loud and clear.  The speakers set a good example of how to engage your employees by providing opportunities to enhance skill sets, grow personally and professionally, and feedback to understand the value they bring to the community.  Your employees are your single greatest asset and these leaders know how to treat them right.



A Shout-Out to our Public Servants

Public Service Recognition Week is upon us again.  The time of year to reflect on all the big (and little) ways government employees have supported our community.   There are so many people out there trying to make a difference.  Every meaningful act impacts our daily lives sometimes without even realizing it.  I am fortunate to live in a great community.  Just 40 minutes northwest of Boston.

On a typical day in my neighborhood I might see the van to pick up my elderly neighbor and bring him to the Senior Center.  Without that service he’d be stuck in the house with little interaction to the outside world.  As I drive by the park, I might see the Dept of Public Works out maintaining the soccer fields or assessing land for a new sidewalk.  Without this service, the safety of our children are at stake.  Speaking of children, I have two in the public school system.  They care for my children’s individual needs and challenge them in a way I could never do by myself.  Without them, our future wouldn’t look as bright.

This weekend our town will have it’s annual Apple Blossom Parade.  I feel a sense of pride when I attend this every year.  It brings the whole community together and, honestly, without the assistance of our town’s great employees I can’t imagine it being a success.  The children’s faces light up when the police cars and fire trucks roll down the street blaring their sirens.  They crack up when they see what silly theme the library staff will dress up as this year (last year it was Minions).  They chase after candy thrown into the crowd by town officials.   And they dance to the sounds of the high school marching band.

Take a moment to reflect on the endless ways those who serve the public make our lives a little better.  It starts as soon as you walk out the door.


The Dangers of Connectivity

Let’s face it, the work culture has evolved and technology is the responsible party.  Older generations could have never imagined we would be so accessible to so many people after the work day is through.  Even if you were “on-call” it was still only one person who could get in touch with you.  So, what makes us compelled to respond to calls or emails during our personal time.  Is it pressure?  Or is it a great benefit?

I started my career at a telecommunications company.  It was before smartphones, but not before laptops and cell phones.  Suffice to say, I was in an environment that was conducive to bringing work home with you.  I saw this as a benefit.  It provided some flexibility to my work/life balance.  But there is another side to always being connected.

Employers are beginning to look at the effects of after hour work.   Flexibility is a benefit, but to what extent.  Balance will play a crucial role in how we look at this in the future.  France has gone as far as implementing a “right to disconnect” law all in an effort to reduce stress caused by staying connected.  There may not be one right (or wrong) solution to this problem.

Public Service: Is it still a career choice?

As younger generations contemplate what their career paths will look like, public service still remains an area of interest for many college students.  But what does a career path for someone just entering the job market look like?  Author Gayle Cinquegrani wrote an article recently for Bloomberg BNA describing the new modern worker.  This persona values happiness and career development when considering their job or career choice.

The article, Workers are More Willing to Change Jobs, points out that millennials in particular who don’t find what those values they are looking for, are willing to leave to in pursuit of what really motivates them.  So how do public employers embrace this new way of thinking?  What can they do to continue to encourage careers in public service while adapting to a changing culture?

The answer requires each agency to look at their current retention strategies and will likely be different for everyone.  According to the paper, Understanding Millennials in Government, written by Peter Viechnicki of Deloitte Services, LP, governments should consider some strategies not geared towards generations, but rather lifetime milestones such as buying a car or starting a family.  There are also particular benefits that may attract younger employees like student loan repayment assistance programs.

In reality, committing to a lifelong career in public service is probably not what employees fresh out of college are prepared to do.  Viechnicki goes on to say “governments may wish to develop different recruiting and career progression strategies, which allow them [Millennials with specific skill sets] to perform public service for shorter but still meaningful stints.”  In other words, it’s better to have them for some time rather than not at all. This is where having a succession strategy or knowledge transfer plan would come into play.