Clients By Industry

Government Employee Retention in Public Sector

How to Retain Employees in Government

Employee Retention in the Public Sector

Government employment historically has one of the lowest separation rates compared to most industry sectors due to its job stability. Government employees can count on clear career paths, strong benefits, retirement and pension plans. In recent years, however, employee retention in public service has become a major area of focus. According to a recent survey from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (2017), 91% of respondents cited recruitment and retention as important to their organizations. Recent data shows the highest industry turnover rate in more than 4 years. Enter the retirement “Brain Drain” pulling 1530 government staff for work every day. Government agencies now struggle to keep up with disruptive technology, legislative changes, and shrinking budgets and resources. The need to retain talent is more important than ever.

  • 91% of respondents cited recruitment and retention as important to their organizations
  • In a recent survey of 70+ public sector leaders from 18 states, roughly two-thirds (64%) reported that it was difficult to attract and retain talent
  • States with the highest number of government employees: California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Florida
  • States with the highest percentage of civil servants: Washington D.C., Alaska, Virginia, Maryland, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Wyoming


The Government Employee Engagement Challenge

A further challenge is the rising disengagement among government workers. A recent national poll showed that only 38% of public sector employees are engaged (compared to 44% of private sector employees). A further break down reveals that state government employees are least engaged, with only less than a third (29%) of employees reporting that they are fully engaged (federal 34%, local government 44%) (CPS HR Institute for Public Sector Employee Engagement, 2017). Retirement waves and the increase of turnover leave the employees who stay with an increased workload on top of limited resources and budgets. This causes frustration among the government workforce, which is struggling to combat inefficiency on top of staff shortages.


Attracting Millennials to Government Jobs

Attracting the right talent is one of the biggest challenges for government entities, especially when it comes to millennials. Considering that the millennial workforce is set to make up 75% of the US workforce by 2020, government entities need to make adjustments to cater towards millennials in order to fill open positions. Ironically, resistance to change in the government sector is one of the biggest aspects forced to change. Like any other industry in the past decade, the government sector begins to reinvent itself in order to keep up with today’s ever-changing work environment. Inevitably, public sector will start catering toward millennials and what might attract and retain them (e.g. flexible work arrangements, upgrades in technology and autonomy), as well as targeting current employees disengagement in an effort to increase employee retention.


How Retensa Helps To Retain Government Employees

  1. Retention Diagnostic: Get prioritized recommendations with a data-driven Retention Diagnostic. This will identify the areas where your government agency is excelling, where it can focus, and all the “noise” to ignore. To retain your best employees, you can’t rely on the public sector’s traditional strengths with respect to job security, benefits and retirement.  You need to pinpoint root causes of employee dissatisfaction and target your efforts with clear and actionable recommendations.
  2. Exit Interviews: Gain actionable intelligence from Exit Interviews. Using a third party like Retensa to conduct exit interviews creates the safety net people need to avoid burning bridges and be really honest about why they are leaving. Civil servants have a clear view of their organization’s mission and their ability to work towards them. Leverage their insight and ask them for feedback on how to create an employee experience where people are able to achieve their goals. Ask the right questions to pinpoint the root causes for high turnover at your government agency and prepare strategies to help increase retention today.
  3. Retention Skills Training: Provide Retention Skills Training so leaders at your government agency have the tools they need to retain and engage your best civil servants. Retensa provides retention programs based on customized insights from what your staff says they want and need from your administration. Invest in training that is customized to the needs of your organization.


Get proactive to reduce turnover and increase morale and motivation. Call us now at (212) 545-1280 or email a retention expert here.