Within recent years, federal jobs have been demonstrating drastically reclining retention rates, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office(GAO). Now, nearly two-thirds of all federal employees are packing up and leaving their respective offices. The reasons come from a multi-faceted avenue of re-occurring issues. Not everything federal agencies do leads to their employees leaving their jobs, but there is something to consider when statistics show us that a lot of employees are thinking that the grass may be greener on the other side.

Reasons for Lousy Retention

It is always concerning when numbers show lousy retention. Many federal agencies struggle to efficiently attract top talent. However, sometimes agencies hire the right people, but put them into the wrong positions, which is a significant loss for any organization. Imagine putting Tom Brady at middle linebacker; odds are, he won’t be as productive for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next season. Federal agencies need to understand and conceptualize these issues with retention tracking and exit interviews.

Work Environment Matters

All people naturally attract to an idea of togetherness and find comfort in appreciation for one’s work. Not only will people work harder when they’re doing a good job, but they’ll also have a better time doing so. People want to be cared for. Federal agencies can provide a climate that represents an excellent work culture, and many agencies have been hugely successful in doing so. However, it’s almost impossible to compete with most privatized companies who have built reputations on values and morals that are tied directly to their industry. Privatized companies aren’t tied to as many entities, so finding flexibility is easier. Flexibility, in a general sense, is very desirable to any potential employee.

Show Me the Money

After taking a look at the comparison between a well-renowned privatized company like Apple compared to a federal agency, it’s been found to be a 50% pay gap between technology jobs. That is an astronomical difference that people have to consider when choosing where to work. It’s simple to see how this may affect retention rates when you realize you could be making a lot more money elsewhere. Just under 1% of all workers are employed by the federal government, representing around two-million jobs in the U.S. That being said, 1% is getting underpaid, and it’ll be very easy for those underpaid workers to see their colleagues getting paid as they should in more of a privatized setting. The math is simple on this one; sometimes, the federal government can’t be very competitive as far as salaries for specific industries, which naturally leads to less retention.

Connection Issues

Retention problems could also be the lack of connectedness between federal agencies. For a privatized company, everything is under one smaller umbrella, where you can easily create a culture and maintain focus. Whereas federal agencies are all under one enormous umbrella, and a lot of federal agencies operate and conduct business differently, leading to a lot less connectedness. When you have a lot of different rules and expectations under the same entity, retention issues will happen.

The Political Microscope

The political environment of today is not always conducive to getting work done, and constant continuing resolutions or looming government shutdowns can create stress for the federal employee. Conflicting opinions and organizations battle consistently, which can generate a lot of confusion. Although it’s a very tough problem to solve, it’s also a disadvantage compared to some privatized companies who can hyper-focus on individual projects. It’s important to note that the microscope that is always on the government and federal employees is a tough situation to endure. It is tiring for federal employees to constantly hear that they are waste in the federal budget. A lot of employees may not want that spotlight and would instead work freely with less pressure in the private sector.

Retention Issues Are Costly But Solvable

Overall, there’s a statistical phenomenon that depicts a poor job by federal agencies retaining their employees. Some reasons are built on imperfect ways of doing things, but the federal government also has some disadvantages that some jobs don’t have to pay attention to. Moving forward, it will be very interesting to see the way federal agencies decide to handle these poor practices and unfortunate disadvantages.

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Brandon is from La Vista, Nebraska, and is finishing up his degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Management major and minors in Economics and Marketing. Career aspirations are dealing with human relationships, in whichever way fits best.