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Making a difference for employees

Jan 14, 2022
Empower Institute

How government employers are looking for a great response to “the Great Resignation”


More than 3 million Americans, most of them baby boomers, have reportedly retired much earlier than they imagined because of the COVID-19 crisis.1

Recent Empower research also found that double the proportion of government workers retired early in the past year than for-profit workers.2 Others are bidding farewell to the workforce due to a variety of different reasons, such as burnout concerns, flexibility issues, low compensation and insufficient benefits. In September 2021, for that matter, a record 4.4 million people turned in their notices.3,4

The mass exodus has even been coined “the Great Resignation” by media outlets and national pundits.5

In light of the current climate, Empower recently talked to representatives from several of our government clients to help unwrap and better understand the challenges of maintaining a satisfied and productive workforce and how benefits and financial wellness programs can make a difference. We especially focused on this notion of “the Great Resignation.” How is it impacting the public sector? Is there a solution to the labor shortage? What are these entities doing to retain their workers — and attract new talent? Can they adapt to the wave of the future?

Through our exclusive interviews, we learned many agencies in the government space are paving the way by:
 
  1. Adjusting to COVID. Early retirement, staff shortages, vaccination concerns and internal complaints are among the many factors wreaking havoc in the workplace. Government agencies are struggling to address these polarizing issues.
  2. Focusing on financial wellness. Individuals in the public sector are being pushed to the limit when it comes to taking care of their financial condition. The good news is that Empower research reveals government workers’ confidence in their financial journey has increased over the last year.6
  3. Prioritizing employee satisfaction. In response to the spike in voluntary separations across all industries in the U.S., government agencies are weathering the storm to support their dedicated employees.
  4. Identifying key roadblocks. When it comes to attracting the best prospects, government employers are being nifty and nimble in their approach. The ability of so many government workers able to retire because of the pandemic is a testament to the comprehensive retirement programs available to them. This is a sentiment that is echoed by the close to two-thirds of surveyed government workers who feel they have the ability to retire when they want to.7
Moving Forward

“The Great Resignation” deserves a great response. Despite today’s uncertain nature, government employers can use a proactive game plan to help in managing their business and guiding their workforce. A few approaches to consider include:
 
  • Getting back to basics – and back to normal
  • Supporting financial wellness
  • Lifting employee spirits
  • Brushing up on your benefits
  • Thinking bigger
Cover image of Government whitepaper
1 Bloomberg, “Covid Early Retirees Top 3 Million in U.S., Fed Research Shows,” October 2021.
2 Empower Retirement, Wealth and Wellness Survey, November 2021.
3 NPR, “Why Are So Many Americans Quitting Their Jobs?" October 2021.
4 CBS News, “A Record 4.4 Million Americans Quit Their Jobs in September,” October 2021.
5 New York Times, “Wonking Out: Is the Great Resignation a Great Rethink?” November 2021.
6 Empower Retirement, Wealth and Wellness Survey, November 2021.
7 Empower Retirement, Wealth and Wellness Survey, November 2021.

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