The Silver Tsunami Is Looming: Is Your Agency Ready?

Succession planning starts with understanding a holistic picture of the agency workforce, assets, challenges, and culture. From there, the proper assessments and actions can be made to steer an agency down the best future path.

We have discussed the Federal government’s impending “silver tsunami,”  shifts in Learning and Development that will shape the way tomorrow’s workers learn, and best practices for identifying and preparing your next generation of leaders. Now are you ready to start? How can you assess your agency’s readiness to adapt to the coming workforce transformation and develop a succession plan to help foster a new wave of workers?

Developing a proper succession plan will take time and isn’t something that should be rushed. Succession planning starts with understanding a holistic picture of the agency workforce, assets, challenges, and culture. From there, the proper assessments and actions can be made to steer an agency down the best future path.

Analyze Agency Demographics

The first step an agency must take is to work hand-in-hand with its Human Resources leaders to analyze and understand its current demographics. What does the breakdown of the workforce look like? How many employees are generational leaders soon to be retiring? Where are there gaps? Every agency will render different results and some will be in better shape than others, but this assessment will help them understand where they stand and where they need to be.

Assess Culture and Technology

Tomorrow’s talent pool is chock full of people who want to make an impact and be heard. Federal agencies need to recognize the talents and ideas of young people to create a culture that is ready to evolve. Millennials, and eventually Generation Z, are our future workforce, and they expect a work life or environment that mirrors how they have grown up: technology-led, collaborative, and flexible.

Culture and technology will be key components to building an environment where the next generation of leaders will thrive. What is the current agency culture like? Does it support collaboration and new thinking? Is it a culture of knowledge hoarders? What technologies are in place? Does everyone know how to use them?

An assessment with a variety of questions should be pushed out to all employees. There is a wealth of data that can be extrapolated from responses to these questions and turned into useful recommendations that ultimately shape the entire succession plan.

Though organizations could work on developing plans internally, in light of today’s significant challenges, we are seeing a significant spike in interest for third-party assessment and expertise among public-sector entities. These experts work closely with agency leadership throughout the process to make recommendations on the best plans given an agency’s current situation.

Develop an Action Plan

Building a plan that moves the needle based on key findings from the demographics and culture analysis will bring value to both the agency and employees. Include benchmarks to help measure and track the success of key plan components to ensure nothing is getting derailed in the process. The succession plan should be a phased approach that happens over a period of time. This will make the transition easier for employees and the agency alike.

The time to act is now. Being proactive and acknowledging the need to prepare for the future workforce sooner rather than later will help bridge any unnecessary employment, leadership, and knowledge gaps. Agencies need to start determining a game plan to ensure our country’s future success.

If you would like to share your best practices for public-sector workforce succession planning, send an e-mail to for potential inclusion in an upcoming column.

Darci Hall is senior vice president of Learning Solutions for Xerox Learning Solutions, where she is responsible for growing, delivering, and developing high-impact learning solutions for Xerox’s clients.

Training Top 125

Applying for Training magazine’s 2020 Training Top 125 awards program can help you benchmark the excellence and effectiveness of your employee training and development.

Digital Issue

Click above for Training Magazine's
current digital issue

Training Live + Online Certificate Programs

Now You Can Have Live Online Access to Training magazine's Most Popular Certificate Programs! Click here for more information.

Emerging Training Leaders

Company Assets

People are an organization’s most valuable asset,” the saying goes.

Rising Stars

The 2016 Emerging Training Leaders are leading lights at their organizations, shining examples of how strategic-minded, results focused, and people-oriented Learning and Development (L&D) profe

Learning from the Future

Includes ISA Directory of
Learning Providers