To strengthen the Federal workforce, it’s important to first understand what deters people’s interest in working for the government, and then take action to redress those grievances, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said on June 22.

“Individuals who choose to work in public service generally have a desire to serve their communities, but the average number of Federal employees continues to decline. So, the current strategies we as a Federal government utilize to recruit and retain our workers are not working and we must begin working on new solutions to strengthen the Federal workforce,” Rep. Swalwell said during an event organized by the Alliance for Digital Innovation.

The Biden-Harris Administration has made strengthening the Federal workforce a priority on its agenda. The President’s Federal workforce executive order directs the Federal government to be a model employer to achieve overarching workforce goals, and workforce improvements are one of three top-line items on the President’s Management Agenda.

Becoming a model employer, Rep. Swalwell explained, also means taking steps to evolve Federal workplaces and adopt work practices to reflect the needs of the workforce – both for today and tomorrow – that reflect trends in the U.S. labor market.

For example, the private sector continues to be more appealing to the incoming generation of workers not just because of the financial benefits, but also for the ability to move upward within an organization into more leadership roles. Perceptions of limited opportunity for upward mobility compound the “problem of the perception of social inequity when trying to retain top talent,” the congressman said.

Therefore, Federal agencies “must improve the organizational design and the payment formula through the creation of a single cohesive strategy to minimize the perception of social inequity and create more opportunities for upward social mobility by eliminating the restrictions associated with career ladders,” Rep. Swalwell said.

Another essential element of successful retention comes when agencies inform employees and applicants that the organization places high value on equal employment opportunity (EEO) and diversity.

The congressman highlighted several tips from the EEO Commission “intended to assist agencies in creating a rewarding and diverse work environment in which it can hire and retain employees who strive for excellence.”

These tips include demonstrating leadership commitment and accountability, hiring and training the right people, including the EEO Director in strategic planning, and improving advancement opportunities

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.