By Joseph Young, John Forsythe and Lisa Tsyvine – For Deloitte

July 24, 2023 |

Hawaii’s strong sense of community and cultural values emphasize collaboration, respect and a sense of shared responsibility for the well-being of both the current and future workforce.

The islands also share deep ties to the Indo-Pacific region. Hawaii’s proximity to major global powers and its role in supporting regional security alliances makes its workforce an indispensable source for the military and intelligence activities by the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the U.S. Space Surveillance Network.

Yet, we struggle to attract and retain top talent in the military and intelligence sectors here because of a variety of factors, such as cost of living, housing, competition from the private sector and a “brain drain” of kama’aina.

To tackle these challenges, Deloitte is committed to helping the Department of Defense and local communities make Hawaii an irresistible place to work with diverse and long-lasting career opportunities. To do this, we will build on the foundation we have laid in Hawaii over the past 116 years, and leverage the resources available to us as one of the world’s largest professional services firms.

Working with the national security sector, Native Hawaiian organizations, the Chamber of Commerce, the University of Hawaii, secondary school systems and other nonprofits, Deloitte will help develop strategies to recruit and retain educated and trained professionals in Hawaii. For fields such as cybersecurity and big data, health care, sustainable energy and food sustainability, we are attracting top talent from the mainland to build careers on the islands for the next century and beyond.

Addressing Hawaii’s military and intelligence workforce challenges

Military, intelligence and industry leaders can explore innovative human capital strategies to fulfill their complex and demanding missions — and more money is not always the answer. The array of challenges cannot be addressed in a silo or fixed simply by raising salaries. Top talent may be choosy. Flexibility and a wide variety of opportunities are now viewed as table stakes, along with a stable job and a paycheck.

To attract and retain skilled workers in this evolving landscape, organizations may need to create an irresistible talent experience — a magnetic association that people want to join and hate to leave.

As a global leader in human capital management, Deloitte has helped federal agencies implement the “Simply Irresistible Organization” framework to create engaging work environments that are prepared to take on challenges and deliver for the American people. This framework is based on research across thousands of private and public sector organizations on what is most likely to attract and retain top talent. Additionally, Deloitte’s long history of serving clients across the islands provides a local perspective on what it takes to build an irresistible talent experience in Hawaii:

  • Growth opportunities: Clear pathways demonstrating career potential — highlighting specialized training programs, continuous education, and certifications to enhance skills — attract ambitious talent seeking long-term growth.
  • Trust and transparency: An environment where employees feel valued and included — using open communication channels and feedback mechanisms to promote transparency — creates a supportive culture to foster employee engagement and retention.
  • Flexibility and work-life balance: Creative housing solutions, using Hawaii’s time difference as an advantage, remote work options and compressed work weeks can help mitigate the financial burden of Hawaii’s cost of living. Prioritizing work-life balance demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being, making employers more attractive to prospective candidates.
  • Meaningful work: The significance of the military and intelligence missions cannot be overstated — and Hawaii is at the center of global security. Highlighting the meaningfulness of their roles, agencies can attract individuals who are driven by purpose and a sense of duty.
  • Hands-on engagement: Internship programs, simulated exercises and collaboration with educational institutions expose students and professionals to the challenging and rewarding nature of military and intelligence operations, enabling them to make informed decisions about pursuing careers in these fields.

Total rewards: Competitive salary structures and recognition programs enhance compensation packages and reward exceptional performance. Employees are likely to feel appreciated and motivated to contribute their best.

Hawaii’s workforce challenges require collaboration between military and intelligence agencies, educational institutions, community organizations, and the private sector. By working together, we can create a robust ecosystem that nurtures and supports career opportunities in Hawaii and helps the U.S. national security enterprise attract and retain the talent they need for today’s complex missions.

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