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« Is Anybody Watching? | Main | Oklahoma House Speaker Resigns »

January 28, 2008


Tim Rice

Having finally commented on your previous post, I'll chime in here as well. I think you're asking valid questions about the legislative work environment. If we have large numbers of baby boomers approaching retirement and much smaller numbers of potential Gen Y replacements who value a work/life balance uncommon to the legislative work environment and also may not place a high value on the legislative institution, who do we expect to fill those vacancies, and how long do we think they'll stick around before moving somewhere else more to their liking?

I can't say that I have any innovations to offer. Our staff is largely information technology workers. While we can't match private sector compensation, we do try to stay within range. We offer a decent benfits package and compensation for overtime. We try to accommodate personal lives, and our workplace is collegial. We attempt to keep up with technology (within reason as dictated by its applicability to our users), which keeps staff engaged. We offer training, and we encourage experimentation.

The question for me is whether that will be enough to matter to a new generation. Our staff of 34 ranges from one person in their late 20's to one in their late 50's, with the big lump of the bell curve squarely in the mid-40's. Four are within a couple years of retirement eligibility, but most are over 10 years away. So we have some time, but we need younger workers soon to give them time to develop.

Our last five twenty-something hires tell an interesting tale. Four had finished a master's degree in information technology from a local university; the fifth was in process. One left after two years and a baby to be closer to family. One left after one year, having decided the IT field wasn't a good fit. One stayed for a year and a half until getting engaged to someone in another state. One left after two years to get married and move to another state. The last one left after four years and a baby to be closer to family and pursue a dream job opportunity (starting a winery).

On the other hand, our recent hires who are in their late 30's and into their 40's have stuck and are pretty happy. They like the work and the environment and the relative job security.

I realize that's a small sample and rather anecdotal, so I hesitate to draw much from it. But it does have me wondering what we can do to attract and retain members of Gen Y.

Brian Weberg

Thanks for you comments and observations. One of the factors that makes this subject tough is the diversity of legislatures...their number of staff, organizational variability and culture of partisan or nonpartisan employment. I think your observation about the differences in 30 year old versus 40 year old employees is interesting. Seems to me that in my day, we were starting to look at security issues in our 30s. Is 40 the new 30?

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