The government worker of 2035

Transitioning to the next generation

Radical technology changes and new generational expectations regarding public service will likely change how Federal government work will be performed by 2035. New technologies will reshape the career sentiment and work requirements among younger generations. It is anticipated that work performed by millennials, and the yet–to-be defined next generation of “digital natives,” will be more iterative, crowdsourced, predictive, borderless, and customer-oriented. The current notion of lifelong Federal employment may be replaced with a more flexible and fluid project-style employment, using a technology enabled “work from anywhere” workplace culture.​​

The new workforce model

The first paper written on the topic, “Government Worker of 2035,” describes new workforce trends and related implications for workforce planning and talent management practices. The new workforce model will challenge the traditional notion of lifelong agency employment by offering a more flexible career model. Rather than the lengthy and rigid recruitment process of the past, the new model promotes an open source talent model that enables employees to easily join and collaborate on projects.

The time is ripe for agencies to begin this evolution based on three drivers that call for a new way of planning staffing resources:

  • The US President’s mandate for agency cross-collaboration
  • Generational work preferences
  • Increase in contract work

“In the Millennials’ ideal work week, there would be significantly more time devoted to the discussion of new ideas and ways of working, on coaching and mentoring, and the development of their leadership skills.”

Three phases to transformation

​Phase 1: Explore opportunities for change
To launch the transformation, it is important first to identify a challenge that: 1) is relevant to the participating agencies, and 2) appeals to the expectations of millennial employees who are looking for assignments that have mission impact and encourage innovative practices.

Phase 2: Expand the transformation
Often, closing out a project is considered a formality, rather than an opportunity to reflect on the successes and challenges of the team. The team can consider documenting and publishing lessons learned in an effort to increase transparency around cross-agency projects. External social media can be a great platform to push findings out and raise awareness around new opportunities to collaborate among agencies.

Phase 3: Scale to full capacity
The full transition to the 2035 model requires answering specific policy questions such as: How does an agency measure performance in a project-style workplace environment? Or, how does an agency streamline recruiting and staffing for project assignments to accommodate perhaps higher turnover?

Key actions

Agencies should consider rethinking how they define and implement Federal projects, as well as plan appropriately for mapping their workforce needs.

The following are key actions for standing up a collaborative inter-agency project of the future:

  • Identify a strategic project for participating agencies to collaborate on and support common mission goals
  • Attract a talented team from agency’s existing staff and outside labor market to collaborate on project assignment
  • Define upfront strong executive sponsorship and project governance structure to inspire change and encourage participative decision making
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