Workforce

Managing the IT talent portfolio

Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

Many federal IT leaders diligently track operational and financial metrics, but current IT talent trends are often missing from their executive dashboards. At CEB, we think IT talent availability is one of the most underappreciated risks in the IT portfolio. It is also a risk that could increase with a high degree of velocity in the next several years due to two factors: challenges in keeping talented IT staff engaged and an unanticipated retirement wave.

Employee engagement

Based on troubling trends in employee engagement, many talented and tenured federal IT workers will likely leave their jobs in the next five years. According to the Office of Personnel Management's most recent Federal Employee Viewpoint (FedView) Survey, employee engagement metrics dropped at almost every agency in 2013, at least in part because of the pressures of sequestration and the need to "do more with less."

Furthermore, CEB's Global Workforce Insights survey of more than 18,000 employees shows that those in the IT field are most at risk of leaving their employers in this type of environment. Specifically, IT employees scored 10 percent higher than average when asked how optimistic they are about their individual job prospects, partly because many IT skills are easily transferrable from one employer to another. Our survey also shows that this optimism causes IT employees to report a lower-than-average intention to stay in their current jobs.

Potential retirement wave.

Many federal human resources managers have been discussing and planning for the retirement of workers over the age of 60. However, three times as many federal IT employees are in their 50s, and those in the 50 to 60 age range could represent a larger succession-planning risk.

Historically, employees in their 50s represented half of federal retirements. Since the recession, more federal workers have chosen to stay in their current roles as the number of job openings in the private sector declined. However, that group of employees could see large retirement spikes in the near future as the economy recovers and private-sector opportunities grow.

Unfortunately, the most talented people are at the greatest risk of leaving. And given the government's tight staffing levels, the departure of only a small percentage of those employees would have an impact on continuity of operations and innovation.

Given those concerns, federal leaders need to be as diligent in measuring key IT talent metrics as they have been about measuring IT spending levels. The FedView survey tracks several metrics that are worthy of attention because they can help proactively assess and address potential talent risks.

IT employees report a lower-than-average intention to stay in their current jobs.

Two key questions track staff engagement: the percentage of employees who are considering leaving their organizations in the next year (which was 31 percent in 2012 and 2013) and the percentage of employees who would recommend their organizations as good places to work (which dropped to a low of 63 percent in 2013).

The FedView Survey also tracks employees' retirement plans. In 2013, the average percentage of government employees who planned to retire in the next five years rose to 25 percent. Given that 47 percent of the IT workforce is 50 or older, agencies need to develop their talent base and position themselves to withstand the looming wave of retirements.

Federal IT leaders must closely monitor the metrics available to them to ensure that their teams are engaged and productive. They should expend as much proactive strategic effort on the management of their talent portfolios as they do on their technology portfolios.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • Social network, census

    5 predictions for federal IT in 2017

    As the Trump team takes control, here's what the tech community can expect.

  • Rep. Gerald Connolly

    Connolly warns on workforce changes

    The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee's Government Operations panel warns that Congress will look to legislate changes to the federal workforce.

  • President Donald J. Trump delivers his inaugural address

    How will Trump lead on tech?

    The businessman turned reality star turned U.S. president clearly has mastered Twitter, but what will his administration mean for broader technology issues?

  • Login.gov moving ahead

    The bid to establish a single login for accessing government services is moving again on the last full day of the Obama presidency.

  • Shutterstock image (by Jirsak): customer care, relationship management, and leadership concept.

    Obama wraps up security clearance reforms

    In a last-minute executive order, President Obama institutes structural reforms to the security clearance process designed to create a more unified system across government agencies.

  • Shutterstock image: breached lock.

    What cyber can learn from counterterrorism

    The U.S. has to look at its experience in developing post-9/11 counterterrorism policies to inform efforts to formalize cybersecurity policies, says a senior official.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group