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What Factors Frustrate Government Employees the Most?

Technology deployments depend on dedicated workers, and a new survey describes what frustrates public agency employees the most. Pay, feedback and general burnout stand out as the main sources of workforce complaint.

Aerial view of a worker sitting in a white office cubicle talking on the phone while two employees walk by outside the cubicle.
Government employees seek job longevity but also feel burned out, according to a new survey — factors that can play a role in government technology as public agency workforces undergo significant changes.

A new report from Qualtrics, which sells government experience management software, found that 69 percent of survey respondents who work in government say they want to stay with their employers for more than three years, compared with the cross-industry average of 64 percent.

The company based its findings on global surveys of more than 2,000 public-sector employees and 8,000 consumers about their experiences with government agencies over the past year.

The findings come as state and local public agencies — like organizations in other industries — deal with labor shortages. Government employers also face the challenge of matching private industry pay for technology professionals, among other workers, and absorbing younger members of the workforce.

Indeed, just a third of government employees said that their pay is linked to their performance, which is 17 percentage points lower than the global cross-industry average, the company said.

Qualtrics found that 35 percent of government employees reported being burned out, with 40 percent saying “they don’t care as much about their work as they used to,” according to the report. Meanwhile, “only” 57 percent of government employees said they think their career goals can be met with their current employers — that is down 7 percent from the previous year, according to the report.

Just more than half — 52 percent — of government employees report “having meaningful career development discussions” with managers, while less than half — 48 percent — said that senior leadership responds to employee feedback.

“Governments around the world, including ours in the U.S., are at a critical moment of opportunity to strengthen their institutions,” said Sydney Heimbrock, chief industry adviser for government at Qualtrics, in the report. “The key to this is bringing a human-centered, customer and employee focus into their organizational DNA. These findings show that by committing to better listening and engagement across communities — and investing in technology that enables intelligent, automated actions — governments can be best equipped to navigate this environment of uncertainty and better serve all — both employees and the public.”