Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

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Benefits a key driver in job changes

Do you consider yourself a hard worker? A highly educated, ambitious high achiever?

If so, you fit the profile of someone who is extremely or very likely to look for a new job this year, says a new report.

According to the 2012 Aflac Workforces Report, currently employed people who are most likely to seek another job describe themselves along those lines: 90 percent of them described themselves as hard workers, 79 percent as high achievers at work, 73 percent as highly educated, and 64 percent as ambitious.

And one of the key reasons for these go-getters’ wandering eye is benefits.

That was the one of the conclusions of an online survey of about 6,000 U.S. workers and 1,900 benefits decision-makers conducted in January and February by Research Now for insurance provider Aflac.

Fifty percent of workers said benefits are very or extremely influential in a decision to leave a current employer, and 84 percent said benefits were at least somewhat important.

Of course, benefits overall are pretty good for feds, especially when compared to those enjoyed (or not) by the rest of the nation’s workforce. In fact, a lot of feds say that the benefits are the reason they’ve stuck it out.

But things are changing. Thanks to Congress’s constant tinkering with federal employee pay and benefits, the fact that more already employed workers in this country are looking for greener pastures could spell bad news for the federal government just as it does for other employers.

Thank about it.  Discounting all those Baby Boomers who are getting in queue to retire from the federal government, there are a lot of younger members of the federal workforce with far fewer years of their working careers invested in federal service. And it would not be a stretch to say that a lot of them fall into the prime jobseeker profile outlined above.

Combine that with the efforts of many congressional leaders who appear to be doing everything they can to make federal employment into a less attractive career choice -- freezing pay for years on end, making employees pay more toward retirement, constantly squeezing agencies into workforce cuts -- and it starts to look like trouble ahead for the nation’s largest employer.

And all of this occurs in an environment in which – according to the report -- nearly half of U.S. workers are least somewhat likely to look for a new job this year.

Of course, employees looking to leave their current jobs also consider other aspects of their current employment situation – not only benefits -- in making a decision of whether or not to split for another employer, according to the report. But given the frustration currently expressed by many federal employees, Uncle Sam as employer will not take much comfort in the other findings.

The study notes, for example:

  • One-third of workers who don’t believe retaining employees is an important priority for their employer say they are likely to leave. (Oops.)
  • Workers who said they are stressed out are nearly twice as likely -- 43 percent vs. 25 percent -- to leave their job compared to workers who are not stressed. (Anyone you know?)
  • Twenty-eight percent of employees who are extremely likely to leave their job in the next 12 months say they don’t have peace of mind. (Yikes.)

Federal employee unions – and a few lawmakers -- have been saying all along that slicing and dicing federal workers’ benefits will make it harder to attract and keep top employees.

And the study seems to bear that out. According to the findings, U.S. workers in general who are extremely or very satisfied with their benefits program are nine times more likely to stay with their employer than those who are dissatisfied with it. And three out of four – 76 percent -- say they are at least somewhat likely to accept a job with a better benefits package, but lower compensation.

Food for thought for the folks on Capitol Hill.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Jun 08, 2012 at 4:02 PM

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