There is a shift taking place in local government administration buildings across the nation. The change is in response to a much more powerful force—a tsunami in fact. The Silver Tsunami, or the mass retirement of Baby Boomers, is impacting local governments across the nation. As a result, local governments are seeing a demographic shift in public leadership from experienced and established Baby Boomers to Millennial employees. With more Millennials running for office, the composition of municipal councils is reconstructing from mostly retired community members to younger, more tech-savvy citizens. The expectations of these younger council members are for greater access to technology, more standard transparency, and higher levels of administrative efficiency. To achieve these expectations and adapt to the demographic shift in local government leadership, communities must be prepared to equip the next generation of leadership with the tools and resources they want and need to be productive leaders.
Update Your Tech
According to the Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM), Millennials, a demographic segment that will account for 46 percent of the workforce by 2020, not only prefer the use of cutting-edge technology, they are motivated to make a difference in their community and aim to be successful in their careers. With such goals propelling public sector Millennials forward, local governments must enable their success by providing them with the types of enterprise mobility solutions that will allow them to work collaboratively, efficiently, and impactfully.
Such technology access should include cloud-based software solutions. Younger generations are not just clocking in at the office and going home. They are continually engaged with work, checking emails and completing tasks at the office, at home, on weekends, from a desktop, a tablet, and a smartphone. Local governments should enable such efficiency and attentiveness by ensuring critical software systems, like your agenda and meeting management software and boards and commissions portal, are cloud-based and accessible from any device.
Enable Digital Self-Sufficiency
Millennials are often referred to as the “I will find it right now,” generation. Growing up with smartphones in their hands, they are the generation that turned Google into a verb and can’t sit still without checking in on social media or finding an answer as soon as a question passes someone’s lips. Millennials are not the generation to call or stop by an office and wait for an answer. They want to obtain the information they seek themselves, anytime from any device. This behavior not only defines them as consumers and citizens but as employees and civic leaders.
Local governments should give Millennials the tools they need to self-service their job functions, act collaboratively, and obtain information immediately. Such systems should include online calendar scheduling tools, on-demand video recordings of local meetings and council sessions, and the ability to search online for transparency documents (don’t even think about asking a Millennial to find a printed meeting summary in a filing cabinet).
Show them the Stats
Millennials are data-minded and driven by statistics. Ensure your administration has tools in place to aggregate data that can be analyzed and used to inform decisions. Millennials, especially elected officials and administrative staff, will want everything from citizen survey data to digital solution usage, to regional and national benchmarks, to internal efficiency statistics. Be prepared to explain how many citizens are searching for marriage licenses on your local government website each month, how many citizens want to see an additional dog park built in your community, and how long it takes staff to respond to the average transparency request.
Enable them to be Accountable
Millennials are goal-minded. They want to be recognized for their accomplishments, but only because they want to set and reach new goals continually. Ensure you have a system in place that provides transparency into your council’s goals and ensures all participants can actively monitor individual and aggregate progress toward those goals.
Help them be Lifelong Learners
Millennials never want to quit learning. Perhaps this stems from their “Let me Google it” mindset, or maybe it is fueled by their desire to improve and achieve new levels of success. Millennials will feel most comfortable and supported as a member of your administration if they are provided with on-demand (see: Enable Digital Self-Sufficiency) training resources and educational opportunities.
Millennials are taking over the public and private sectors, and they have the natural inclination and drive to be successful. By accommodating their desire to leverage data and technology to be efficient and make informed decisions, you can give the Millennials making an impact in your local government the ability to lead your community to new heights.