One of the most popular insights about Millennials with regard to public sector employment is that they aren’t interested in it.  GovExec reported in August of last year that less than eight percent of the federal workforce is under 30.  While a shortage of public employees is being offset by older employees delaying retirement, the argument went, the low rate of Millennial employment will eventually cause big problems.

It turns out, however, that this is more of a federal workplace problem than a public workplace problem.  Workforce points out that federal employees are older than state and local employees, on average.  Additionally, a new recent study found that Millennials in state and local government are actually very satisfied with their jobs.

Despite the frustrations that come with public service, it shouldn’t be surprising that many Millennials are happy to be there.  Nearly 90% of millennials would take a pay cut to work somewhere that aligns with their values compared to nine percent of Baby Boomers.  Unlike many for-profit enterprises, the role of public employers is to serve citizens rather than to profit from them.

This data, however, was heavily skewed.  That’s because more than three-quarters of the responses came from teachers, police and firefighters – jobs where the public service component of public employment is among the strongest.  These jobs are notoriously stressful, time-consuming and underpaid, yet Millennial employees are many times happier in these jobs than the average private company employee.

Whether you’re a federal, state or local government, these statistics point out an important fact.  If you’re hoping to bring more young employees into your organization, it’s important to focus on the value that you bring to the community.  Make sure you’re using it in your recruiting.  More importantly, make sure that all of your employees have visibility into the positive impact that your agency’s front-line workers are having on the citizens and companies they serve.  Millennials understand that nearly half of their waking lives are spent at work or traveling to work – and if you don’t feel good about what you’re doing for half of your waking hours, it’s hard to enjoy much of anything else.

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