3 Things I’ve Learned as a Millennial Finance Director
Andrew McCreery is the Finance Director for Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He is also a millennial.
I’ll eat at least 30 slices of cake over the next five years. That’s one for every retirement party Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania’s municipal office will hold as about a quarter of our staff retires. Last year, within 8 months, our Manager, Public Works Director, and Police Chief left the municipality. We’ll be able to make some internal hires, but with 30 people leaving, we have no choice: we must recruit the next generation of public servants.
Mt. Lebanon isn’t alone. GFOA reports that 37% of local government employees are over 50. As more baby boomers clean their desks and say goodbye, governments won’t be able to analyze transactions or patrol streets unless they attract and retain millennials. Millennials. Stereotypes about them abound – they’re lazy, entitled, idealistic. But these stereotypes are broad overgeneralizations; and if your government adopts the right strategy, you can hire millennial workers that meaningfully contribute to the community.
Governments have a long way to go. GFOA found that just 12% of local government employees are under the age of 30. To get more millennials, and it’s especially important to fill the bench in finance departments, agencies need to understand what millennials look for in government work.
I’m a millennial Finance Director, and here are three things I think you should know about getting my generation’s top talent into government.
1. We value data sharing
Siloed our personal lives are not. We message friends across the country in seconds, collaborate like never before, and even spark revolutions over social media. So during the job search, when we find governments that trap data in legacy systems and don’t adequately share information across departments or with citizens, we likely apply elsewhere for work.
I’m working on making Mt. Lebanon’s finance shop a great place to work for millennials and every other generation. I’ve emphasized expanding openness and sharing data because employees across the organization need cross-departmental information. A quid pro quo data sharing environment has created collaborative and expanded solutions to many problems.
We’re putting the tools in place to ensure anyone who needs financial data can access it on their own. If employees have the insights they need to inform their work regardless of which department has the data, then they can do their jobs better. Millennials recognize this, and expect this cross-functional collaboration in the workplace.
2. We prefer speed and efficiency
Imagine how millennials feel about having to wait hours, or even days, to get the financial answers they need to do their job when they can go home and find a stock price in seconds. For most governments, this is a reality.
It’s cumbersome to create and update one-off reports for every department head in our financial system. So when someone has a financial question, whether it’s on spending on travel expenses across funds or how our expenditures compare to our budget, there’s going to be a delay.
Governments should operate like Google Search, when possible. Ask a question – get an instant answer. Executives need current overtime information across departments. Police Chiefs depend on updated crime statistics. Public Works must track construction costs. And this information often cannot wait.
To make our government more ‘millennial-friendly’, we used OpenGov to give managers on-demand access to financial information so they no longer have to rely on the finance team for answers to routine questions.
3. We’re working toward the same goals as other generations
The first two lessons emphasized things governments should do differently to attract millennials. But it’s important to remember that we’re in government for the same reason you are: to serve citizens. As a millennial managing older generations, I try to keep this in mind. Our management style may be different, but we want the same thing. Communicating this to all generations is critical to our success.
Like all communities, we face challenges like revenue constraints, expanding expenditure demands, and infrastructure maintenance. And like every other generation, millennials must strategize how to serve citizens. I believe that millennials have a lot to offer the public sector, and I hope that local governments across the country do what is necessary to attract this workforce.
Want to learn more? Read the free Administrator’s Primer on Enabling Millennials in Government!
Andrew McCreery is the Director of Finance for Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a position he has held for over two years. Prior to Mt. Lebanon, Andrew worked for the Borough of Jefferson Hills and the Township of Upper St. Clair. Andrew received a Certificate of Accounting from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Category: Government Finance