New Study: Half of Federal Employees Consider Looking for Jobs Outside of Government

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PulsePoll™ from Market Connections, Inc. and FierceGovIT shows state of government workforce.

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“It is clear that the recent political environment and agency staffing practices are affecting federal morale,” said Lisa Dezzutti, president and CEO of Market Connections, Inc.

Pay freezes, the current political environment and the prospect of a better salary in the private sector are driving 50 percent of federal employees to consider employment outside of government, according to a new PulsePoll™ of government employees by Market Connections, Inc. and FierceGovIT.

The online poll of 370 government employees found frustration with the current work environment and concerns about a “brain drain” affecting mission effectiveness as experienced government employees retire and/or seek opportunities in the private sector.

“It is clear that the recent political environment and agency staffing practices are affecting federal morale,” said Lisa Dezzutti, president and CEO of Market Connections, Inc. “We could see serious repercussions on mission-critical work as a result of pay and hiring freezes, lack of resources and 50 percent of the workforce considering leaving government.”

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) said their agencies have frozen wages in the past 12 months, 59 percent said their agencies are not replacing workers who leave, half (49 percent) cite lack of resources to complete the job properly and 39 percent say mission-critical work is not getting done due to lack or reduction of staff.

Following are additional findings from the survey:

  • Top 3 Reasons for Leaving Government: The federal employee pay freeze (44%), the frustrating political environment (41%) and better salary opportunities in the private sector (34%) were the main drivers for federal employees to consider employment elsewhere.
  • Civilian vs. Defense Frustration: Respondents from civilian and defense agencies are frustrated for different reasons. Half of respondents working for civilian agencies (49 percent) cite the current political environment, while half of respondents in defense agencies (49 percent) cite furloughs and the government shutdown as the main motivators.
  • “Brain Drain” and Government: More than three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents believe that the loss of institutional knowledge from retirements and other employees leaving government will ultimately erode mission effectiveness. In addition, 61 percent do not believe there is enough young talent in government to offset these losses.
  • People Who Care the Most Are More Likely to Leave: Relative to respondents not considering a job change, a significantly greater proportion of respondents considering looking for a job outside of government believe that mission critical work is not getting done due to lack or reduction of staff (30% vs 48%). Relative comparisons also show that those same individuals considering a job change, are more likely to strongly agree that retention of the federal workforce is a greater problem than finding qualified people (31% vs 17%).
  • Agency Staffing Practices for the Past 12 Months: Following is a rundown of agency staffing practices for the past 12 months.
  • Freezing wages | 63%
  • Not replacing workers who leave | 59%
  • Lack of resources to complete the job properly | 49%
  • Mission critical work not getting done due to lack/reduction of staff | 39%
  • Hiring personnel to fill new positions | 34%
  • Adding contract employees | 31%
  • Make replacement hires due to other reasons for attrition of personnel | 27%
  • Make replacement hires due to retirement of personnel | 26%

To see more results and infographics from this study, click here.

About Market Connections, Inc.
Market Connections delivers actionable intelligence and insights that enable improved business performance and positioning for leading businesses, government agencies, and trade associations. The custom market research firm is a sought-after authority on preferences, perceptions, and trends among government executives and the contractors who serve them, offering deep domain expertise in information technology and telecommunications, healthcare, and education. Market Connections also provides the tools for organizations to expand thought leadership in their respective markets, and is known for the annual Federal Media and Marketing Study and ongoing PulsePolls™ of the government market. For more information, visit:

About FierceGovernmentIT
FierceGovernmentIT is an internationally recognized thrice-weekly e-newsletter reaching more than 27,000 federal employees and industry IT executives. FierceGovernmentIT provides subscribers with an authoritative briefing on the latest technological developments in the U.S. government, with a special focus on developments in cybersecurity, open source, social media and cloud computing. Sign up is free at

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Matt Langan
L&R Communications
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