Aug 08 2022

How State and Local Governments Can Reduce Employee Attrition

Agencies should embrace remote and hybrid work, adaptable workspaces, and staff augmentation for worker retention.

Waves of Americans began leaving their jobs last year in the midst of the “Great Resignation,” and local government workers were among those who left or considered leaving. Many local government employees were fatigued by the pandemic and sought better pay and benefits.

In the past two years, more people left their jobs in state and local government than ever before, leaving many agencies understaffed and without qualified replacements, according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the number of state and local government employees peaked at roughly 20 million. The sector lost around 1.5 million jobs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 607,000 positions have returned, according to Hilltop Securities, so state and local governments remain almost 928,000 workers below pre-pandemic levels. In a survey, state and local government workers said they might leave their jobs for a higher salary or better benefits (52 percent), due to stress and burnout (47 percent), or for better work-life balance (36 percent).

Government managers can tackle some of these challenges and make their employees happier, potentially stemming the tide of resignations and retirements through technology. They can use solutions that facilitate remote work, appealing workspaces, staff augmentation and managed services.

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Agencies Should Support Workers in Remote and Hybrid Offices

Deploying technology to empower hybrid or remote work can make government employees more productive — and happier. Workspaces that adapt to support employee efficiency benefit agencies, according to Government Technology. Government employees that telework report increased productivity.

In addition, government agencies have pushed digital services throughout the pandemic. The digitalization of services allows citizens to conduct transactions with the government from any location, ending the need to report to a government office. The rise of these online services sometimes delivers the same benefit to government employees: They can do their jobs from anywhere, as recently seen in the case of a 311 call center in Buffalo, N.Y., which has permanently shifted to a remote work model.

EXPLORE: How state and local government agencies are responding to remote work.

Capabilities to service citizens from any location enhances the productivity of government workers and grants them opportunities to work from home while also serving more citizens. It is a win-win scenario.

Roughly 30 to 40 percent of workers can do their jobs in a hybrid environment, according to a 2021 study by Insead. Where possible, government agencies should consider reconfiguring offices to support hybrid work. In the private sector, businesses such as Cisco have invested in redesigning offices with a focus on collaboration and conferencing tools, recognizing that a worker in the office might need to communicate with colleagues in various locations even during a typical daily meeting.

Agencies will reap many benefits by adopting the tools government workers require to work in a manner that best suits them.

Employee-Friendly Offices Boost Morale and Retention

Comfortable offices put workers at ease. Officials can start making the office more appealing to workers through simple policy changes. Allowing freedom in how workers may approach their jobs boosts employee morale.

ICMA shares a story on its website about how the town of Tyler, Texas, increased employee morale by instituting a number of sweeping changes. The city manager ran a Lean Sigma initiative to cut waste and redundancy to free employees from low-value activities. The manager also established a training program at the town’s City University, where government employees can pursue education in core competencies, innovation, professional development and leadership.

DISCOVER: The technology making remote and hybrid work possible.

The city manager also revamped internal communications to foster employee engagement and to keep everyone in the loop. New internal communications tools include an internal government website, a monthly employee newsletter, regular leadership messages and an awards program, as well as quarterly leisure events to celebrate achievements.

Government offices can provide plenty of space for onsite workers, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They can provide plenty of soap and hand sanitizer to allow employees to stay clean. They can limit sharing of equipment such as phones and computers. And they can ensure employees can stay home when they are sick.

According to a MissionSquare Research Institute survey, government employees said their agencies could make their offices a better place to work through issuing bonuses or raises (21 percent), allowing working from home and flexible hours (20 percent), and promoting health and safety in the face of the pandemic (17 percent).

Resort to Staff Augmentation and Managed Services if Necessary

When all else fails and governments simply lack the staffing power to do the work, they can turn to staff augmentation services. Even if agencies are replacing talent at a slow rate or lack the means to stay on top of current technology, they can use staff augmentation as a temporary measure to fill staffing gaps. Staff augmentation providers like CDW Amplified Services can also work with agencies on workforce development. CDW•G works with governments to improve their internal cybersecurity expertise, for example. Agencies may engage us to train staff to deal with current working environments.

LEARN ABOUT: The pandemic workplace lessons still applicable today.

When appropriate, agencies also can consider managed services. Chris Novak, director of the Verizon Threat Research Advisory Center, says that state and local governments face even more daunting tasks to maintain technology readiness. “The advent of cloud services, high-speed mobile and SD-WAN networks, APIs, containers, and AI have created a dramatically more dynamic and complex operating environment, one that can be a challenge even the most seasoned IT teams,” he writes for StateScoop.

“Fortunately, state and local agencies have more staffing options than previously. And increasing numbers of CIOs are recognizing the value of managed and professional IT services,” Novak adds.

A recent survey by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers found 60 percent of CIOs plan to expand the use of managed services to support IT services.

This article is part of StateTech’s CITizen blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #StateLocalIT hashtag.

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