Study: Gen Y Feds Not Really So Different

Susan Hall
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The CIO-Millennial Divide: Struggling to Keep Up with Younger Workers' Tech Support Expectations

New programs to woo young IT pros to federal government will have little payoff if it can't keep them, and Uncle Sam has a pretty poor record in that regard.


Federal workers younger than 30 quit their jobs at a rate five times higher than their older counterparts, writes Adam Cole, senior director at the Corporate Executive Board in a piece at Federal Computer Week.


With a wave of federal retirements under way, it becomes more important than ever to keep its younger hires. Using the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, the Corporate Executive Board looked at whether so-called Gen Y or Millennial workers have to be managed differently or whether they're really not so different from other age groups. That's a question my colleague Ann All has posed. It compared the views of workers age 20-29 with those age 50-59 and found both groups shared seven of the top 10 drivers of intention to stay.


Cole pointed three major themes for both groups:


  • Employees want to be positioned for success: They want to feel their talents are used well and they have the opportunity to advance.
  • Employees want capable managers: They want competent managers who can deal with people from different backgrounds.
  • Employees want opportunities to learn new skills: They want to feel their managers are committed to their development.


The study did find that younger workers valued training and development more highly, while the older group valued clear expectations and communication. Other research has found Millennials expect faster response times and to use their consumer devices at work.


These findings echo the advice of Vincent Milich, director of the IT Effectiveness Practice at Hay Group, whom I interviewed last year. He told me that too often in IT, a competing job offer provides way more insight into a worker's prospects for training and advancement than he or she can glean from a current employer. To keep folks from jumping ship, employers - whether government or others - need to make that clear.

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