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Why are civil servants leaving their careers in droves?

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2023 | Civil Service Law |

The silent, unsung heroes who keep local, state and federal governments running are civil servants. Civil servants compose a substantial portion of the American workforce. However, this sector faces unprecedented challenges that will likely get worse in the upcoming years. One of the most significant problems is unignorably high career turnover.

New survey data about civil career turnover

The U.K. media outlet Civil Service World, which reports on developments in the public service sector, recently published its Civil Service People Survey for 2022. From its results, we can interpret a great deal about why civil service careers have such high turnover. The civil servants polled indicated several factors that contributed to their decision to leave their positions, including:

  • Stagnant salaries: Fifty-four percent of respondents indicated salary dissatisfaction, making it the most common reason for leaving a civil position. The data show that salary satisfaction has plummeted by 10% among the workforce – the largest dip since the survey began 14 years ago.
  • Inadequate health care benefits: Related to salary is the benefits package that public servants receive. Lack of sufficient medical and dental benefits prompted many civil employees to search for a different job.
  • Unsatisfying work: Twenty-nine percent of workers found their jobs unsatisfying and decided to pursue opportunities that seemed more compelling.
  • Poor leadership/management: The nature of bureaucracy means that most civil servants have a supervisor to whom they respond. One quarter, though, left because they were not happy with their leadership or management.
  • Mistreatment: Finally, 13% of public servants who responded had experienced lack of inclusion, lack of diversity or even discrimination that prompted them to leave their position.

The poll results are not completely bleak. About 33% of respondents left their existing positions to accept a promotion or a different career within the civil service.

What does this mean for the future?

The reported salary dissatisfaction certainly corresponds with that of American civil servants who struggle with stagnant pay. Should the other data apply as well, it suggests that the civil sector needs an overall increase in pay, modernization of job tasks, reform in management techniques and efforts to diversify the workforce. Without change, the future of the civil service could be on shaky ground.



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