Web extra: Younger workers may leave and return

Government managers shouldn’t be so concerned about their younger workers leaving government, said Adrienne Spahr, co-chairwoman of Young Government Leaders, because many who do leave will be back.

“Most of those I know who leave always talk about coming back,” Spahr said. “So [managers] should maybe expect that many of them will go to the private side, but [they should] keep in touch with them because, if they do come back, they’ll bring better tools with them.”

Spahr said she believes many government managers misunderstand the younger generation of employees. Young workers are willing to take more risks and explore a much wider range of opportunities. They are entrepreneurial and tech savvy, build fluid relationships, and expect their careers to also be fluid. They may spread their wings and fly to see the wider world, only to return later, more seasoned and ready to commit to public service.

The biggest challenge for government is putting together a convincing marketing strategy to attract them, Spahr said. Government agencies must also provide the kind of mentoring and networking that younger people need. Government is still learning how to do those things, she said.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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