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Staff Retention, Employee Morale, Workloads and Health Care Costs are Top Workforce Issues for State and Local Governments
Source Date: Thursday, May 26, 2011
Country: United States
Created: May 26, 2011

Media Contact
Tina Ott Chiappetta
Senior Director of Government Affairs
and Communications
1617 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Ph: (703) 549-7100, ext. 244
Fax: (703) 684-0948
Web: www.ipma-hr.org
E-mail: tchiappetta@ipma-hr.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Staff Retention, Employee Morale, Workloads and Health Care Costs are Top Workforce Issues for State and Local Governments; Majority have Fewer Workers Since Economic Downturn

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Retaining staff needed for core services, reducing employee health care costs and addressing employee morale and workload problems are the top workforce issues facing local and state governments, according to the latest electronic survey conducted by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence.

The survey also finds that 25 percent of respondents report that employees are accelerating their plans for retirement and 71 percent say their workforce has shrunk since the 2008 economic downturn.

Workforce changes most commonly cited are:

Shifted more health care costs to employees (72 percent)
Pay freezes (62 percent)
Hiring freezes (54 percent)
Layoffs (41 percent)
Created wellness programs (33 percent)
Shifted more health care costs to retirees (23 percent)
Raised contributions to pension plans (23 percent, new hires; 22 percent, current employees)

The survey is a follow-up to one the Center conducted in late fall 2009, The Great Recession and the State and Local Government Workforce.

"As they face hiring freezes, morale issues, layoffs, and accelerating retirements, more than 70 percent of state and local governments say staff development is a priority issue," said Center president and CEO Elizabeth Kellar. "This takes on added importance as you examine trend data. The number of retirement-eligible employees who have moved up their retirement date has more than doubled in the last year."

Respondents report that they continue to have a hard time filling a number of positions, including engineers; environmental, chemical, and forensic credentialed professionals; finance; police and firefighters; information technology professionals; librarians; nurses and physicians; middle and top management; skilled trades; and social workers.

"The survey results confirm that the public sector continues to face extremely challenging times, with difficult workforce issues that need to be addressed," said Neil E. Reichenberg, executive director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR). "The actions taken by the public sector over the past several years to address budget gaps have resulted in a smaller workforce facing increased workloads. One of the key challenges for the public sector will be to remain an employer of choice that can compete for talent, especially in critical high skills areas."

"As the survey findings indicate, the fiscal crisis has forced a number of difficult decisions that have significantly affected the public sector workforce," added Leslie Scott, director of National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE). "With furloughs, pay cuts, and additional out-of-pocket expenses for benefits, coupled with an increased workload and often intense media scrutiny, public sector employee morale is low. Earlier, this year, NASPE members, identified low employee morale as the number one issue facing state government HR executives."

The survey was conducted among members of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) and the National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE) from April 18–May 3, 2011. Three-hundred and sixty-three (363) members took part in the survey. Of the members who responded to the electronic questionnaire, 80 percent work for local government; 14 percent for state government; 0.3 percent for federal government; and 6.1 percent for a non-government sector. Some questions elicited more responses than others.

Read the full survey here.

For more information, contact Amy Mayers, at the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, either by phone at (202) 682-6102, or by e-mail at amayers@slge.org. Or, contact Leslie Scott, at the National Association of State Personnel Executives, either by phone at (859) 244-8182, or by e-mail at lscott@csg.org. Or, contact Tina Ott Chiappetta, at IPMA-HR, either by phone at (703) 549-7100, or by e-mail at tchiappetta@ipma-hr.org.

# # #

About IPMA-HR

The International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) is an association representing the interests of state, local, and federal sector human resources professionals. IPMA-HR provides human resource leadership and advocacy, professional development, information, and services to enhance public sector performance. To learn more, visit www.ipma-hr.org.

About the Center for State and Local Government Excellence

The Center for State and Local Government Excellence promotes excellence in local and state governments so they can attract and retain talented public servants. The Center identifies best practices and conducts research on pensions, health benefits, competitive employment practices, demographic trends, and financial planning. To access the Center's databases and research or to sign up for its e-news, visit www.slge.org.

About the National Association of State Personnel Executives

NASPE represents the nation's state government human resource management directors and deputy directors and provides a national leadership forum to advance state government human resource management through the exchange of best practices, strategies, and solutions. Visit them on the Web at www.naspe.net.
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