Career Development, Work Content Most Impt. For Public Workers Under 40

January 9, 2008 ( - With a wave of Baby Boomer retirements looming at public employers, as with their private counterparts, a new study educates government hiring managers on what factors are most important in attracting and retaining new workers.

A Segal Company report said its research found career development and work content are the most important aspects of work for public employees under age 40 (which includes Generations X and Y). More than three-quarters of these younger employees (77%) rate those work elements as “very important” or “extremely important.”

Segal also found that those below 40 are not laser focused on their paychecks. The younger workers surveyed rate pay lowest in importance among the five rewards of work (affiliation, compensation, benefits, work content, and career). Only half said pay was “very important” or “extremely important.”

Generally, according to Segal, younger workers are somewhat more likely to be satisfied than older workers with four of the employee awards elements (pay, benefits, career and affiliation) and less satisfied with work content compared to employees age 40 and older. The research found most public sector workers are satisfied with their job security, while only about one-third of employees are satisfied with the career opportunities available at their organizations.

Younger employees also consider more important other work intangibles, according to the report, including having good supervisors, a pleasant work environment, and interesting work. While workers age 40 and older are also interested in the same items, they are naturally focused more on retirement benefits compared with younger employees, the Segal researchers asserted.

The majority of younger workers are satisfied with their benefits (including paid time off, health care, and retirement). In particular, younger workers are far more likely to be satisfied with the size of their health care contribution (61%) compared with employees age 40 and older (47%).

Segal found that older workers seem to be slightly more satisfied with the pension plan compared to younger workers. However, nearly one-third of younger respondents rated this benefit as “neutral,” suggesting they may not be familiar with their organization’s retirement benefits or are not yet as focused on retirement as their older colleagues.

When it comes to job movement, Segal found about 30% of employees under 40 say they will actively look for work in a different organization within the year (compared with 24% of employees age 40 and over). About one in five employees say that they could find a job quickly that is comparable to their current position that pays at least as well.

The biggest driver of turnover for employees under age 40 is dissatisfaction with job content and career opportunities.

More than 1,900 individuals employed by states, counties, municipalities, and public authorities throughout the U.S. participated in the study.

The study report is here .