A recent Washington Post Breaking News headline article declared, “4.3 million people quit their jobs in August, nearly 3 percent of the workforce”.
According to the article, “the number of people quitting their jobs has surged to record highs, pushed by a combination of factors that include Americans sensing ample opportunity and better pay elsewhere.”
“...there were 10.4 million job openings in the country at the end of August — down slightly from July’s record high of 10.9 million but still a tremendously high number.”
The phenomenon is being driven, in part, by workers who are less willing to endure inconvenient hours and poor compensation. They are quitting at this stage in the pandemic to find better opportunities elsewhere. The staffing shortage is a trending topic within government leadership circles since the pandemic has increased citizens’ inquiries for services. Agencies are now battling to not only attract new talent, but also to retain the existing employees.
Government leaders gathered to discuss employee retention and support
Pega’s government team recently hosted several agency leaders from across the nation for the private and public sector quarterly virtual roundtable event. Participants shared ideas and best practices for mitigating the impact of unprecedented levels of government employee attrition within agencies.
The focus of the meeting centered on attracting and retaining top technical talent in government and the roundtable participants extensively discussed the impact in which the lingering Covid-19 pandemic has provided employees the opportunity to rethink their careers, long-term goals, and working conditions. Unfortunately, the loss of government employees only adds to the existing workforce shortage volume in addition to an already substantial number of senior government employees reaching retirement age. This one-two punch has shone a spotlight on how agencies and organizations will need to respond to large numbers of employees retiring or leaving for the private sector.
Based on the feedback from the roundtable, three central strategy themes resonated with each participant:
Strategy #1: Handling the uptick in government employee retirement and attrition.
- Create an accelerator or fast-track program to move junior employees into leadership roles.
- Provide opportunities to work remotely as this is a key driver for many employees who are seeking a better work-life balance environment.
- Collaborate with Human Resources to develop strategies or policies on ways to streamline current processes that hamper career development.
Strategy #2: Driving leadership engagement and relationships with employees.
- Hold regular virtual town hall meetings with all employees as part of your communications strategy.
- Be transparent about policy changes that are impacting the agencies, including the employees.
- Communicate with employees regularly using various tools such as email, chat, one-on-one meetings, newsletters, etc.
Strategy #3: Retaining high performing government employees.
- Continue to provide a stable work environment (think drama-free workplace, as well as leaders who listen, care, and take the time to connect directly with employees).
- Offer opportunities to move laterally into positions of interest that are mutually beneficial for both the employee as well as the agency.
- Advocate for remote work for employees that meet the agencies criteria and productivity guidelines.
The future of work is here
This roundtable discussion is a great way for government leaders to take time out of their hectic schedules to pause, meet, and collaborate – ultimately learning from each other and finding solutions to common challenges. The pandemic has changed how both organizations and employees function and work. We are entering a new workforce era that is focused on maintaining resilient and supportive relationships between organizations, employees, and customers.