Federal agencies need to pay more attention to the full talent life cycle among their employees. What do I mean by this? I mean that agencies should take steps to ensure that federal workers are well supported with the workplace resources they need at every stage in their careers, from recruitment through retirement.
In my view, there are more than a few federal workplaces that would be more engaged and even more productive if their respective agencies were committed to meeting needs comprehensively as their workers progressed up the ladder from rookie to experienced professional to senior veteran.
For instance, a given agency misses the mark on this scale when it concentrates on aggressively recruiting new talent while at the same time it neglects the development needs of its mid- or senior managers. Similarly, an agency is only going half the distance when it fields special programs to recruit individuals with disabilities and doesn’t backstop these efforts with comprehensive measures to ensure true on-the-job inclusion of new hires. Should we be surprised when these well-meaning but half-way measures don’t create breakthrough results in agency cultures?
Let me stress that these shortcomings are generally not the result of indifference or ignorance among the government’s human capital leaders. There are budgetary reasons—and arguably persuasive ones at that–for the trade-offs that limit agency attempts to build engaged cultures that retain their core values over years. But let me play devil’s advocate. Can we afford these tradeoffs over the long run when we are faced with the impending retirement of so many among the government’s senior and most experienced team members? And when, frankly, the notion of a public service career remains less than inspiring to most of America’s youth?