Government agencies are now coming to terms with the low interest of the younger workforce in government service. Most agencies have intensified their recruitment strategies by developing their online and social media presence as well as amping up their presence in campuses and in job fairs. However, no matter how hard our agencies sell the idea government service to the youth, there seems to be only a few takers.
Most human resource managers have lazily attributed the non-eagerness of the youth to join the government workforce as an effect of being part of the Millennial generation (a.k.a. Generation Y).
Generation experts cluster those born within the period of 1980-2000 into this seemingly abhorrent generational box. Compared to their predecessors, the Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, Millennials are portrayed as lazier, more narcissistic, more prone to jump from job to job, characteristically materialistic with a strong sense of entitlement, and more civically and politically-disengaged.
From the above description, how can one make a match between the traditional, structured, bureaucratic government work and the oft-criticized, easily-bored, disengaged, entitled Millennial?
1. Awaken and nurture the passion for a better world. One thing that Millennials would always have is the passion to make the world better. To encourage the youth to enter government service, managers should highlight how the youth’s compassion coupled with their talents and ideas make for a good investment, not just for their future, but those of others as well. Setting an altruistic goal shall continuously challenge them and keep them interested.
2. Mentoring is key. When placed under good mentors, Millennials can turn into humbled, and purposeful public servants. Since they have high standards for leaders, they have to see the meaning of what they do through the rich experience of others and the humanitarian value of those experiences. Aside from this, Millennials are collaborative beings and they would greatly value feedback through cross-generational leadership. Thus, agencies should also ensure that their officials manifest excellent leadership qualities and a great love of country.
3. Understand work-life integration. Unlike Gen Xers who are concerned with work-life balance, Millennials propagate the idea of work-life integration. With this integration, work can never be boring and stagnant. Work has to be as flexible as technology can allow it to be. Work has to be rewarding (or at least decently beneficial). Work has to be in line with the values and the competencies of the Millennial. Since work is life, it has to allow the young employee to grow and to graduate to bigger opportunities. Government agencies should understand that shift from the compartmentalization of work and self, to their integration in the context of this generation. Opportunities in education, capacity and networking, not to mention to a better living standard, should be provided to keep younger employees within the ranks.
4. Be “anti-generational.” The last and perhaps the most important advice is to remove all biases against any generation. While generational influences can shape worldviews and attitudes, we all live individual lives and each person is hewn out of differing circumstances. Employees should be valued and respected individually and not stereotyped according to their generation. It is archaic and considered unacceptable in the modern workplace to discriminate and consider age as a factor in one’s performance.
Millennials are often at the losing end with all the negative qualities being attributed to them by so-called generational experts. The biggest irony is, Strauss and Howe, the creators of the Generational Theory themselves, never saw their work as a means to create prejudices between persons of different generations (i.e. an employee and his fellow employees or his managers). Rather, their studies were geared at highlighting the uniqueness of each generation and how these qualities serve a purpose at a given time in history.
With an aging government workforce, agencies have to start recruiting younger people and aim at making them stay—for good. It should be highlighted that whatever worked 50 years ago, cannot be expected to work now. In line with certain Millennial traits, the government agencies have to innovate, take-risks and be less traditional in their approach to leadership and management to encourage younger Filipinos to take part in making a difference in this country
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On November 12, 2016, student leaders and young professionals will be gathering at the Ateneo De Manila University for the Salubong: Bagumbayani Leadership Conference. The conference aims at providing an opportunity for the youth to discuss the President’s 10-Point Socioeconomic Agenda and how the youth can take part in making these plans a reality through government work. Interested parties may contact Lyonel Tanganco or Bernice Solco at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.
EUVIMIL NINA R. ASUNCION is revenue attorney at the Bureau of Internal Revenue. She is an alumna of the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education’s Comparative Tax Policy and Administration Program.