Millennials demand better treatment to join government ranks

Governments tend to be "woefully behind" when it comes to digital transformation and turning on millennials, according to a recent report out of IBM global business services.

Governments 'woefully behind' when it comes to digital and attracting millennials

Nicolino Frate is a director at CRA who started the monthly Twitter chat, Leader GC. (GTEC)

Nicolino Frate spends his day job as a director at the Canada Revenue Agency, but on the side, this millennial is trying to make building a career in government an attractive concept to members of the digital generation.

After hours, Frate and 31 fellow public servants from more than a dozen different departments across the country work on a project called Leaders GC — a monthly social media chat that hosts government executives to talk about what they do, on Twitter.

"Millennials do make up a good percentage of our followers," said Frate, who is in his 30s. "You have to show people what your environment is like so that they have an interest to actually join, and actually come in to the public service."

But Frate's Twitter chats notwithstanding, governments tend to be "woefully behind" when it comes to digital transformation and turning on millennials, according to a recent report out of IBM global business services.

Millennials — people between 18 and 35 — are replacing baby boomers in the workforce and after growing up digital, this new cohort has different expectations.

Millennials to make bulk of workforce in 2025

Beth Bell with IBM co-wrote a report called, 'Can the Millennial generation rescue government?' (IBM)
The next generation of public service leaders is demanding certain conditions when it comes to joining the federal government workplace, according to Beth Bell, vice president of the public sector for IBM.

"They're going to make up 75 per cent of our global workforce by 2025," said Bell. "As more of those people join the workforce and rise to leadership positions, they're envisioning how things might be done differently and their ideas and expectations are in a large part fueling the transformation we see in both private and public sector today."

Bell's research, which included a workshop and social media study of new public servants, led to the report, Can the Millennial generation rescue government?

Bell shared the survey results at this week's annual GTEC technology conference in Ottawa.

She said the study showed that millennials are looking for better use of new technology tools.

They want flexible hours, clear skill and career development plans and they want a quicker path to a secure, full-time position.

Group may be more vocal, demanding in careers

Bell acknowledges these are things many employees want, but this group may get more demanding.

"I don't know if they're in a position to demand it, but they're really eager for the public service to listen to their words and make some changes so they can make those careers in government that align to their value systems," said Bell.

Dave Wilkin, founder of, said younger workers need to be mentoring with leaders in the public service. (GTEC)
Serial entrepreneur Dave Wilkin spoke at GTEC about his own start-up, a mentoring platform.

Wilkin, 28, told the government executives in the audience they need to bring together both the next generation and the established leaders to mentor.

Wilkin said today's public service managers are being pushed to find ways to engage the next generation in the workplaces, but said younger workers are hesitant to commit to the environment.

"People are leaving, talent is not retaining and [the millennials] are certainly not joining," Wilkin said.