“Everyone is replaceable” part 1: when “security” becomes a problem

The subject of the shortage of skilled workers seems to have reached the heads of the authorities. There is increased personnel marketing. It is all the more astonishing that nothing is done to prevent fluctuation. The grotesque situation of desperately adding more and more new staff at the bottom while the team mutinies at the top is evidence of the wrong attitude. The tenor is: "Then go ahead, everyone is replaceable!" This is not only dangerous, but simply wrong.

Just away!

With most of my customers from the public sector I hear it. In my network it is discussed massively. But above all, I personally experience more and more that especially the younger ones are leaving. Some do not even compete. The phenomenon of "ghosting" is going around and means the silent non-appearance at a job despite an education or employment contract. But even after that: Junior staff drop out of dual degree programs, cancel training contracts or leave the organization fairly soon after graduation.

A few years ago, graduates at least waited until they had worked off their repayment obligations. But that is also over. Better to pay a few thousand than to stay one more day. Even civil service is no longer a reason to stay and is surprisingly often abandoned. Not only in care this situation reminds me of an escape.

No perspective

What’s going on? When I write above about "waiting" and "working through", this describes the situation in many organizations quite well. Young people often have little say in their post after graduation or training. From the HR department’s point of view, this is understandable. After all, less attractive jobs are to be filled as well. For the junior staff, it is not infrequently the supergau: a job they don’t like to do, no fun at work, poor leadership. Even good colleague cohesion can’t make up for it.

All this would be bearable if alternatives were foreseeable. In the Corona crisis, however, job advertisements are scarce in most public authorities. With the exception of contact tracking, it is not uncommon for there to be a hiring freeze. But even a career in the direction of responsible and innovative positions in the public sector is usually only possible after several years. Just take a look at who is leading the exciting innovation projects, digitalization, new work or personnel marketing in your organization! These are not colleagues fresh from university or vocational school. For them, the classic entry-level jobs remain, data entry and "simple clerical work": no responsibility, no challenge, boreout.

When "safety" becomes toxic

As a result, the feeling of a lack of perspective spreads and leads to looking at the job advertisements of the competition. In the business world in particular, career advancement and the associated professional changes are common every one or two years at the latest. Jobs are plentiful and better pay is usually also available.

My warnings of recent years seem to be coming true: Security in the sense of a reliable job with one and the same organization until retirement age is becoming less and less of an attractive factor among younger generations. On the contrary, this traditional understanding of professional security is becoming synonymous with rigidity, hierarchy, boredom and professional stagnation.

The advantage of "security" communicated in personnel marketing (and which also works) soon becomes a reason for Generation Y and Alpha to break out in the reality of everyday life. So far, this development has not been taken into account at all in the personnel departments of the authorities. There is simply a lack of alternatives to the message "It’s safe with us".

Lack of understanding instead of change

This is also due to the fact that the necessity is not seen. "How can you turn down this opportunity??"Executives, HR managers and heads of public authorities generally react with incomprehension when young people leave their training and careers in public authorities. In the business world, when employees bring up the subject of a better, external offer, it is customary to discuss options for staying on. Not so in the public sector: Even the question of an interim report, which should immediately set alarm bells ringing in every HR manager’s ears, is only acknowledged with a "That’s unusual for us. Change something? Improve the current job situation? Missing.

Churn tendencies are not only not perceived, they are met with a certain arrogance. Thereby the attitude is "Go ahead then, everybody is replaceable!"Highly ineffective, as time, cost, and commitment to recruiting, training, and onboarding are wasted. Acquired skills are lost, the remaining staff has to slave away even more and will do so only to a limited extent. Nursing is currently the first to experience the self-accelerating cycle that is developing here.

When the competition comes knocking, security is no longer enough

All individual cases? Not at all! Depending on the study, 50 to 80 percent of employees are willing to change jobs and would like to work somewhere else. Yes, actively these people have therefore far from solicited away. But what many personnel managers forget: If other authorities and the economy in the shortage of skilled workers start to actively make a better offer to the large mass of those willing to change – be it more responsibility, self-realization, money or the better corporate culture – then it is very easy to change. I predict that active sourcing, i.e. poaching by business and within the public sector, will increase massively. The big consulting companies are only now slowly discovering the potential that lies dormant there.

I am still countered – mostly by civil service recruiters – that the massive exodus to business has actually not yet set in. That’s right, because such a move to the private sector is tantamount to economic suicide after a few years in the public sector – thanks to permanency and pensions. But none of this applies to the younger generation! They therefore go first and are already doing so today. Tendency strongly rising. In some organizations up to 80 percent of the vintages are gone after a few years. Given the demographics in the organizations basically no less than a disaster.

Second argument that we don’t need to worry about are the apprenticeships in the public sector, for which there is no counterpart in the economy. However, young people are increasingly recognizing that such a career choice is a dead end. That’s why applications have been going down there for years. Not to mention that no student googles for these professions either, because they have never heard them before.

But when there is no one left?

The "everyone is replaceable" attitude outlined here is not only ineffective and dangerous, but simply wrong. In blogs, magazines, innumerable studies and since some months also broadly in the press it is said again and again: The public service has already now massive lack of specialists. And by far not only skilled workers and academics are missing. Especially in the simple services, personnel is missing across the board. This can be felt in security, cleaning, catering, logistics and crafts, but also in contact tracing. Even traditional temp jobs for students remain unfilled because there is much more money at the checkout counter at discount stores. The situation that there is simply no substitute left is reality!

So it is not five to twelve, but already half past two. Measures to prevent churn are needed. I will tell you who they are in the second part.

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