Whıle McKınsey research is suggesting as much as one-third of the U.S. workforce will be replaced by automation by 2030, some sectors — particularly skilled labor — are facing a knowledge gap as baby boomers march on toward retirement at a rate of about 10,000 per day. Cities are set to be especially impacted by this knowledge gap, with a 2015 Government Finance Officers Association report by Neil E. Reichenberg, “The Ripple Effect of Baby Boomer Retirements,” finding 37 percent of local government employees are at least 50 years of age. Conversely, only 12 percent of local government employees are younger than 30.
Having seen the trend, many cities are or have been taking steps to prevent this knowledge gap in their organizations with succession planning.
Reichenberg noted in his report, “Among those who indicated that their organizations have succession plans in place, the key components included:
- Developing employees.
- Identifying key positions where retirements are likely to occur.
- Identifying high-potential employees.
- Projecting retirement eligibility.
- Identifying skill gaps.
- Establishing knowledge-transfer programs.
- Developing mentoring programs.
- Aligning the succession plan with the organization’s business plan.
- Collecting performance feedback.
- Establishing job-shadowing programs.”
From job shadowing to leadership academies, cities are trying a variety of methods to attract new workers and develop/engage their existing workers. In this issue, writer Barb Sieminski will relay Columbus, Ga.’s, public works department’s unique program that was created to address and prevent skill gaps: namely, cross-training. While the program was met skeptically by workers at first, it has since been embraced and has even increased camaraderie between the city’s different public works divisions.
Writer Elisa Walker will be sharing information on how to create an engaging and empowering workplace across different generations, including pairing up younger and older employees to take advantage of all skill sets and trying new means of communications. She also explores the different expectations of millennials — the largest generation in the U.S. labor force as of 2015, according to the Pew Research Center. Walker will continue with part two in our February issue, and it will focus on techniques that can encourage change within the workspace.
Other topics in our new “Maintenance & Operations” themed issue include the pitfalls of using requests for proposals for software purchases and taking a proactive risk-based asset management approach to stormwater infrastructure management. We will also be shining a spotlight on Murfressboro, Tenn., which has been recognized for its financial reporting for the 19th consecutive year by the GFOA.
There is no time like the start of a new year to reflect on your workforce and examine where improvements in communications, retention, new hires and training can be made to ensure operations continue without hiccups for years to come.
Happy New Year, everyone!