Magazine article Talent Development

Aging Agencies Risk Workforce Shortages: As Baby Boomers near Retirement, State Agencies Are at an Especially High Risk to Lose a Large Portion of Their Workforce. Data from a Survey of State Agencies Highlights What's Being Done to Strengthen Boomer Retention

Magazine article Talent Development

Aging Agencies Risk Workforce Shortages: As Baby Boomers near Retirement, State Agencies Are at an Especially High Risk to Lose a Large Portion of Their Workforce. Data from a Survey of State Agencies Highlights What's Being Done to Strengthen Boomer Retention

Article excerpt

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A huge demographic shift is taking place. As the populous baby boomer generation ages and nears retirement, many organizations are primed to face shortages in the workforce. And because the public sector is aging more rapidly than the private sector, state agencies are at a greater risk of losing a large chunk of their workforce in the next decade.

In 2008, the Twiga Foundation and the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College collected data to assess how state agencies were preparing for the impending shortage. In the "States as Employers-of-Choice Survey," released in 2009, the organizations evaluated state agencies' progress in retaining older workers.

The survey focused on state agencies because they tend to be among the largest employers in many states, and their workforce is aging more rapidly. "They have been experiencing these shifts of the aging of the workforce actually a little bit ahead of the private sector, so it seemed to be a very important part of the workforce that we wanted to be able to offer support and be able to gain some new insights into what they were doing," says Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, director of the Sloan Center.

The report, based on the survey's findings, asked three main questions:

* To what extent are state agencies assessing how the aging of the workforce might affect their organizations?

* In general, how are late-career workers perceived at state agencies?

* How are state agencies responding to today's multigenerational workforce?

While state agencies excel in both their awareness and assessment of the impact of the aging workforce on their organizations, they have found it more difficult than the private sector to implement change. This disparity may be a result of challenges that state agencies face, such as the ability to offer competitive pay and benefits; ability to recruit competent job applicants; and unwanted turnover.

In evaluating the perceptions of late-career workers at state agencies, state agencies valued the contributions of the older generation to a higher degree than the private sector. …

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