Like your private sector counterparts, Federal agency leaders have difficulty keeping talented people today. The Office of Personnel Management (OPN) reports that at-will separations made up nearly 60% of Federal employee departures in recent years. And the actual numbers have grown by almost 25% year over year, from 2019 to 2022. 1
In 2021, Federal employees 60 and older left their jobs at the highest rate—17%—though most retired. However, the next highest leave category—those employees under 30—is a red flag. More than 9% of them quit in 2021.
Add to this the relatively new phenomenon of quiet quitting, where employees limit their work to an eight-hour-day, five-day-a-week schedule—nothing more, nothing less. Quiet quitting is surfacing in government, so it’s time for agencies to adopt new strategies for boosting staff retention, motivation, and morale. 3,4
How can you meet the challenges of government agency employee turnover and quiet quitting head-on? We’ve discovered six ways to make a big difference by consistently implementing relatively small changes:
Discourage quiet quitting through incentives
Of course, long-term government workforce trends tell us that new employees may not remain with the same agency their entire careers. But to increase ROI for each agency and prevent employees from slipping into a quiet-quitting mentality while they are with you takes some initiative. 1
First, communicate to employees that their growth is one of your top priorities. These are not just one-off training or conference opportunities. It’s best to map out a development system that spans an entire year, then revise it for each subsequent year.
Also, recognition incentives can go a long way to help an employee who feels ignored.
These can be in the form of micro-incentives when the employee reaches each milestone in a project or a more significant incentive at the end of a particularly grueling assignment. Either way, keeping your employee motivated and appreciated is essential.
And remember: Anytime an employee cancels their voice in an agency, they’re depriving themselves and the agency of changing things for the better. Making employees comfortable enough to voice their concerns consistently is key—before they get to the quiet quitting stage. 4
Improve work/life balance
While many Boomer and Gen-X agency executives still subscribe to a workaholic mentality, younger government managers and workers signal work/life balance as their top priority, according to Deloitte’s 2022 Global Gen Z and Millenial Survey. 4
Also, female employees exited agency jobs last year at a slightly higher rate than men, with 6.4% quitting or retiring. This attrition also points to a lack of work/life balance. What can you do? Here are a few areas where younger people and women would like to see advances:
- An indefinite continuation of a hybrid work setup
- Remote working where and when possible
- Schedule flexibility to accommodate childcare
- Respect for the evening and weekend hours. 2
Employee burnout is a result of high-pressure environments and heavy workloads. Many in government feel unable to take time to regroup, recharge, and re-ignite relationships with their families. A fix here: Publicly encourage taking time off and model the action for your employees. 3
Have and communicate a vision
Often, people come to agency jobs because they want to be involved in changing the world by making a difference through public service. But they often need reminders of how critical they are to accomplish this.
It’s crucial not only to state your agency’s mission clearly and often but also to craft a mission for your department that logically cascades down from the umbrella mission.
On almost a daily basis, communicate the impact an employee has on your overall agency and department vision. Emphasize how their work adds value to the mission of the group. Cultivate a sense of purpose and pride. Lift morale through encouragement. Create a desire for employees to grow within an agency, so they can experience firsthand how their achievements impact the team, agency, warfighter, or other constituent beneficiaries. 3
Be positive and transparent
A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management reveals that nearly 60% of agency employees leave their jobs due to disappointment with management.
It’s obvious, but it bears repeating: Positivity in all aspects of communication increases teamwork, boosts loyalty, and augments productivity. How you can improve positivity:
- Implement an open-door policy
- Practice two-way communication
- Be present and listen when employees talk
- Communicate that you're learning from your subordinates as much as you teach. 3
Lastly, when leadership excludes employees from decision-making, they conclude what they think isn’t valued. And rightly so. When possible, be upfront about your decisions and those of the agency. When employees feel included in architecting an agency’s framework, they often develop a sense of unity. 3
Be even more selective in hiring
If you’re currently losing people left and right, it’s tempting to fill open positions as fast as you can. But in actuality, this is the time to carefully screen and assess candidates to ensure they’re the top-most talent you can find. 3
Identify the traits of your most successful long-term employees, and hire to match those characteristics. Some we’ve identified:
- High emotional intelligence
- A solid ability to hear other viewpoints
- A desire to innovate wherever possible
- Consistent empathy
- Willingness to mentor juniors. 3
Recruiting the most qualified candidates to fill your roles dramatically increases the odds of retaining those people. But once you’ve hired them, build a high-performance culture, so they don’t stagnate. A part of this is designing exciting development plans, as well as making available easy-to-use performance management systems like Oracle Performance Management. 1
Uplevel your technology
Keeping valuable employees also depends on keeping your technology stack up-to-date. Frustration mounts when employees negotiate dated systems and old applications during their day-to-day work.
On the contracting proposal front, ProPricer Government Edition is your best bet for fluidly analyzing a variety of proposal submissions from various vendors on a contract. In addition, the platform lets you avoid creating electronic costing models for each contractor, saving time. Other benefits include:
- Creates digital communication channels between your people and contractors during proposal evaluation
- Streamlines fact-finding and negotiation processes
- Develops an instantly organized view of proposal cost and pricing data through an integrated database architecture
- Modifies proposal rates and tables at the level of your choice
- Provides a lens through which to compare multiple versions of a proposal to the original.
Keep your people. Attract new blood. Better technology isn’t the only solution, but if you ask any millennial or Generation Z employee, they’ll tell you it’s critical to job satisfaction. Contact us for a 1-on-1 demo of ProPricer Government Edition today.
- OPM.gov Article: Services for Agencies - Workforce & Succession Planning
- Government Executive: These Are the Agencies Federal Employees Are Leaving at the Highest Rates
- Management Concepts Blog: Strategies to Reverse High Rates of Turnover Within Federal Agencies
- Time Article: What is Quiet Quitting? Employees Say It’s Just Setting Boundaries