Today’s post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member and executive director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, Neil Reichenberg, who provides a high-level overview of their 2019 Workplace Trends Survey.
The Center for State and Local Government Excellence recently released our 2019 Workforce Trends survey which found that the top workforce challenges facing U.S. state and local governments are (1) recruitment and retention of qualified personnel with the needed skills for public service and (2) providing competitive compensation. The survey results emphasize the importance of state and local governments adopting innovative practices in order to attract and retain needed staff. Other workforce issues important to state and local governments include employee morale, employee engagement, retaining staff needed for core services, and leadership development. The report is based on survey responses from the members of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and the National Association of State Personnel Executives.
This year’s survey included a focus on the gig economy, with office and administrative support, accounting, and information technology positions being the most common areas filled by those working on a temporary or contingent basis. Some functions such as policing, emergency dispatch, corrections, and firefighting/emergency medical are hard-to-fill positions, which due to the nature of the work are difficult to staff by those working on a temporary or contingent basis. The impact of the gig economy on governmental organizations was measured, with the biggest positive being management flexibility while the greatest drawback is the impact on the morale of full-time employees.
Reflecting a strong economy, hiring has picked up with 80% of respondents reporting that they hired employees. Only 7% say that they undertook layoffs as compared to 42% who implemented layoffs in 2009. This year, almost 60% of respondents indicated higher levels of full-time hiring as compared to last year, and only 10% noted that hiring would be reduced from last year. Interpersonal, technology, and written communications are the skill-sets most needed in new hires. The most successful recruitment practices in reaching qualified candidates include online job advertisement, government websites, employee referrals, and the use of social media.
Workplace flexibility is becoming increasingly important and almost 20% of survey respondents have either increased the number of those eligible for flexible work or the range of flexible work arrangements that are offered. The most common work practices are flexible schedules, flexible work hours, and telework. Employee development both through in-house training as well as funds for training and tuition, wellness programs, leave benefits, recognition programs, and onboarding are the most popular programs designed to encourage employee retention and development.
Survey respondents believe that their benefits packages are more competitive than their pay, with 88% indicating that the benefits they offer are competitive with the labor market while 56% say their wages are competitive with the labor market. Government employers continue to shift more health care costs from the employer to employee (36% of survey respondents) and are implementing wellness programs (28% of survey respondents). Almost 50% of respondents believe their employees are not prepared financially for retirement, indicating an area on which governments should focus.