Compensation means many things to many people. What motivates people to want to work for the public sector, or any job really, is in the eye of the beholder. It’s a quandary HR Managers everywhere are facing. Some have taken a look at this by generation which seems to give a pretty accurate picture of the wants and needs of employees in different age brackets. Although we know money is a motivator for most, there is more to compensation than just a pay check. What drives employees to say yes to one job and no to another? The four prominent generations in the workforce all say something a little different when it comes to compensation.
Millennials are the most talked about generation these days mainly due to the fact they are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Since the average Millennial graduate is $24K in debt, money is a driver and health benefits are a must. However, they also put a high value on learning new skills because it makes them more valuable. They may be skeptical about ever seeing a pension, or Social Security for that matter, so benefits that give them options to invest in their future are appealing.
The Gen Xers consider themselves “stuck in the middle” between two behemoth generations according to a study done by the Pew Research Center; like being the middle child. They generally have a lot going on in their lives between children and/or aging parents and desire that work-life balance to help them keep their sanity. This could be in the form of flexible work schedules, adequate time-off policies, and easy access to amenities to support their well-being.
Baby Boomers have begun exiting the workforce, but not as fast as it was originally anticipated mostly due to the 2008 Recession. This generation is loyal and could potentially be convinced to stay on even if it’s a part-time or contractor role. Like the Gen Xers, pay and flexible hours will be an incentive. It’s a way for them to continue to keep some cash flow going and still spend time doing things they would if they were retired. Many will qualify for Medicare so health benefits aren’t always necessary.
While Traditionalists are technically past retirement age, some are still employed. They typically feel a pride in what they do and want to continue making a difference. Respect is a value this generation takes seriously. Though it isn’t necessarily something you can compensate on, there are ways to show respect with a reward like a plaque or gift.
Public Service is an honorable career. Employees, regardless of their generation, take pride in adding value in their workplace and community. A salary and benefits provides employees with a means to function in their day-to-day life, but there’s nothing like that feeling you get when someone pats you on the back and says “You Made a Difference”.
I recently attended Governing’s Outlook in the States & Localities Conference in D.C. to continue my own education on the public workforce and how it’s impacted by current events. I would equate the abundance of info to watching the news of the past year in fast-forward. It is quite overwhelming. But every year I come back to this event because its where you’ll find the best info.
I was disheartened, but not shocked, to hear 2016 will even further stretch resources including the work done by our public servants as in years past. As the topic of labor was danced around, but not quite addressed, the mere mention of rising costs of healthcare (2016 HHS spend in state & local government to increase 5-6%) and pensions (currently a $1T shortfall in state & local government) will no doubt keep hiring at low levels. And by low levels, they mean from as far back as 2009. According to Governing, local governments have fared the worst with this steady decline in employment.
A shortage of employees at any organization hurts. Yet in government it has an added sting, because the people who really suffer are those who need it most. As long as programs can’t be run due to a lack of resources, and there are citizens who rely on these services, it will continue to create a negative effect on society. Scrutiny around operational inefficiencies within government will continue to grow and could even cause some distrust.
Let’s make 2016 the year we take a deeper look at costs, including labor, and find ways to bring some of our programs back.
We all know the expression, “Let’s not re-create the wheel”. Still, employees and employers alike find themselves doing that every day. Why is it that leaders are encouraged to share best practices with other organizations, but employees and managers within departments often sit in silos not knowing what the other department, agency, group, etc… are doing? Best practice sharing isn’t just for leaders, it’s for everyone.
Karin Hunt, blogger and creator of Let Leaders Grow, talks in a recent blog about how important it is for leaders to listen to their own employees. She goes on to talk about the powerful advantages to “story-telling” and how to learn through collaboration. I know in my personal experiences when I sit down with my counterparts I’m often amazed at some of the things they are working on and how easily I could apply them to my own goals and objectives. And all it takes is one-hour a month out of our busy schedules to have this informal group “chat”.
Even when it doesn’t seem to make sense that one group could possibly learn from another, it doesn’t hurt to try. Leaders need to cultivate an environment that encourages sharing. What if the Parks & Rec Dept created a process for scheduling seasonal workers that the Transportation Dept could adopt during the snow season? What if the IT Dept had a solution to resolve incoming requests quickly that the Clerk’s Office could benefit from? This makes me think of that other expression we hear so often, “You never know unless you try”.
To read more about what Karin Hunt has to say about story-telling, visit her blog posted Oct 4th titled, Simplest Ways to Hear the Best Stories.
Compared to the historical budget crisis states and local governments have lived with over the last few years, I haven’t seen too many things rattle cages like the trepidation we’re experiencing now with health care reform. Of top concern are questions about exactly how costly the legislation will be to implement against a backdrop of rising requirements for citizen services. Government leaders are also trying to get their arms around legislation that is already driving job eliminations and cuts to employee hours on the heels of the staggering job losses that happened during the great recession. This fear and lack of readiness across all industries compelled the federal government to issue a one-year delay of the employer and insurer reporting requirements, making the “shared responsibilities” requirements effective January 1, 2015. The decision to push the date may have alleviated some of the pressure employers were feeling. However, it is still imperative that strategic organizations use this extra time to take a more astute approach to how they will manage the imminent changes associated with the ACA.
So how prepared are governments’ current systems/processes in terms of being able to track employee hours and effectively report compliance to the IRS?
According to a July poll conducted by Governing Institute, 89% of respondents said their current tracking methods could provide visibility into their employee’s part-time or full-time status in accordance with ACA. Seventy-eight percent said their tracking system could effectively report ACA compliance to the IRS. However, a dive into more specific questions regarding the precise methods used to collect ACA data painted a far less rosy picture. Seventy-seven percent of respondents admitted they use, or plan to use, paper timecards or Excel spreadsheets to determine standard measurement periods, and a full 51% of respondents said they use manual time and attendance systems to track employee work hours and leave. Multiplied across entire organizations, manual processes may prove to be a costly and unreliable response to legislation with requirements that are ever-changing and broad in scope.
To download a copy of Governing Institute’s full report entitled, How Will the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Impact Your Government Agency? visit http://www.governing.com/forms/gov-paper-step2-default%20/217150581