By Meredith Camp
Talk of the “retirement tsunami,” the wave of mass exodus among retirement-age public servants predicted to take place at any time, has been around long enough for us to have potentially stopped paying attention to it as a real threat to our federal workforce, but with retirement rates officially increasing quarter by quarter, the time has come for us to start preparing for this real threat. Between decreased interest in younger generations joining the public sector and the continued increase in those leaving it, we are facing a potential shortage that goes far beyond the cuts and freezes we have seen over the past few years.
According to Tim McManus, vice president for education and outreach at the Partnership for Public Service, “[t]he first half of 2012 alone saw 60,000 retirements, and for the first time in a decade, more federal civil servants retired than in each of the previous 10 years.” Without a solid bench in place to succeed these folks, agencies will be scrambling to fill positions for years. So how can organizations overcome this and prepare for the future deficits in their workforce? First and foremost, by taking stock of who is on the verge of retirement and what positions they will be vacating. Second, setting leadership development and professional development opportunities in place for individuals in promotable positions is a proactive approach to handling this impending gap. Third, capitalizing on best practices and institutional knowledge of those who will be leaving before they hit the bricks will keep those great ideas and methods from walking out the door with them. Finally, with younger workers come new ideas and innovations; it is important to be open to these ideas and empower the new and future leaders so they will remain engaged and continue their careers as civil servants.
How is your organization preparing for the retirement wave?