Thirty-six percent of state and local government employees are considering changing jobs after working through the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from the MissionSquare Research Institute.

This percentage has increased from a low of 20 percent in May 2020, and is up five percentage points in the past six months, according to the report. The report surveyed 1,100 state and local government employees in November and December of 2021 to generate its latest findings.

Additionally, 33 percent of the government respondents agreed the pandemic has made them consider retiring, and 28 percent are considering leaving the workforce entirely.

The majority of respondents – 51 percent – described their current morale regarding work as positive. However, respondents also reported feeling stressed (44 percent), burned out (42 percent), and/or anxious (39 percent) while at work about the pandemic.

As the pandemic continues to impact state and local governments, respondents recommend their employers increase compensation, show appreciation and recognition, provide financial wellness resources, prioritize employee safety and mental health, and emphasize employee impact on the community.

Specifically, when asked what their organization could do to retain more employees, respondents most commonly endorsed improving salaries (62 percent), offering or increasing bonuses (50 percent), and/or showing more appreciation and recognition of employees and the work they do (38 percent).

“Improve pay. People want to feel rewarded/ compensated for the work they do,” one social services professional responded.

“Find ways to show their appreciation for all employees (e.g., recognition, awards, special days to increase morale) and provide resources that could be used by employees if they fell into hard times (e.g., time donation, flexibility working, a fund to assist those who need extra help),” a police protection professional recommended.

The good news is that state and local government employees still value the mission of serving others. When asked about working in the public sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, 59 percent of respondents were most likely to report that they value serving their community during this difficult time.

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