Workforce Cloud Could Help Manage Five Generations of Feds

With more employees planning to stay into their 70s, agencies will face new challenges.

There’s an interesting post on GovLoop by one of my top sources for input on generational issues, Andrew Krzmarzick, about a recent survey that found the majority of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are expecting to work into their 70s.

The global survey of 1,189 workers by Future Workplace found that 77 percent of Baby Boomers (between ages of 48 and 66) and 82 percent of Gen Xers (between ages of 36 and 47) believe they will work into their 70s. More employees working into their 70s means that by the year 2020, there will be five generations in the workplace, and federal agencies will need to develop new ways to attract, develop and engage all of these groups.

Krzmarzick poses several questions, including whether 70-somethings will be able to keep up with the pace of change, like technological change, not because they are incapable but because it is different from their primary way of working. There’s also the question of how to keep skills sharp, what types of roles more seasoned workers would play, and what the cost implications are for more seasoned workers, who are likely to be paid much more than their younger colleagues.

In the June issue of Government Executive, I wrote about a new concept of creating a workforce cloud for the federal government. Cloud computing is revolutionizing federal operations through shared services, cost savings and virtualization, and the government could apply these same principles to the workforce to improve flexibility and efficiency, said Dan Helfrich, a principal at professional services firm Deloitte. Deloitte’s GovLab is developing a concept it calls Fed Cloud.

A workforce cloud would enable managers to place workers with specialized skills where they need them, when they need them. These cloud workers would no longer work for a single agency but rather the government at large, making agencies thinner and more mission-focused and virtual work more prominent.

The Fed Cloud concept is touted as a means of attracting and retaining the younger generation of workers to the federal government. But it also could play an important role in transitioning and cultivating these more seasoned workers as they continue work into their late 60s and early 70s, especially since many of them may want to switch to part-time or temporary work.

Are you planning to work into your 70s? What implications does this hold for federal agencies in how they manage and train the five generations in the workforce?