Recent research efforts by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE) reveal key issues facing state and local government leaders in 2019, as well as strategies being used to manage public employee benefit programs, attract and retain a talented workforce, and provide financial security to public sector employees.

  • The role of retirement benefit programs as workforce management tools will need to be more fully understood during benefit reform conversations. Recent research has found that changes to benefits have hampered governments’ ability to attract new employees.
  • Recruitment and retention of qualified personnel will continue to be a challenge for state and local governments. The 2018 SLGE / IPMA-HR / NASPE workforce survey found police, engineering, IT, emergency dispatch, accounting, and skilled trade positions as being particularly difficult to fill.
  • State and local governments will continue to follow their innovative peers in restructuring their HR policies and processes, employee engagement efforts, use of technology, and external communications to develop their Workforce of the Future.
  • With tight budgets and expanded service responsibilities, interest in government staff sharing across jurisdictional boundaries is likely to grow. A rigorous implementation protocol can help ensure effective consideration of key factors and stakeholders.
  • Against the backdrop of reforms that have reduced benefits for many public sector workers, more public employers are going to consider innovative approaches to helping their employees save, such as automatic enrollment.
  • The need to fill essential positions, along with the preference of some retired public workers to work again, will require governments to identify post-retirement employment policies that account for both workforce management flexibility and retirement system actuarial soundness.
  • To make informed decisions about the management and sustainability of public pensions, it will continue to be important that generalizations are not made about the status of all retirement systems. When data from the Public Plans Database is analyzed, it is clear that plans across the US do not have the same fiscal positions, do not face the same challenges, and do not have the same funding histories, as described here.

SLGE would like to thank ICMA-RC for generously supporting much of its research, along with SLGE’s other 2018 partners and sponsors. SLGE has been fortunate to work with a wide range of organizations over the years in achieving its mission of Promoting State & Local Government Excellence to Attract and Retain Talented Public Servants. Please visit the newly redesigned SLGE.org and SLGE on Twitter: @4GovtExcellence.