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GovBytes: The highs and lows of young feds

Over at GovExec, an article posits that although younger feds start off their government careers with overall satisfaction, their contentment is on a steady decline after a period of three years.

The nonprofit Partnership for Public Service this month released a study showing that 75.3 percent of new government workers under the age of 30 are happy with their jobs and agencies compared to just two-thirds of all federal employees. In addition, job satisfaction tends to decline as employee tenure increases — workers under 30 with more than three years of federal service scored their satisfaction at just 68.7 percent, according to the report.

Things that accounted for more happiness on the job included:

  • Empowerment and the ability to take initiative on the job
  • Pay
  • Training and development opportunities

The article also points out, not surprisingly, that happier employees tend to have higher retention rates.

According to Paul Rowson, managing director at human resources association WorldatWork, it takes about three years for the average employee to acclimate to a new job and find perceived shortcomings in the work environment. In the federal government, workers are discouraged by a pay system that does not appropriately recognize varied performance, a complex career planning process, and an outdated job classification system, he said.

Undertrained managers, frequent leadership turnover and underprepared human resources staff also can affect employee engagement, Rowson said. A 2010 Partnership survey found 46 percent of chief human capital officers believed their HR departments lacked the skills necessary to effectively hire.

Are these numbers surprising to you? Is it typical for workplace happiness to decline over time?

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“GovBytes” is a blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with Government Technology. If you see great a story on Gov Tech and want to ask a question around it, please send it to [email protected]

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