Should You Worry About Federal Workforce Changes?

Your contact in the Army lets you know that they will be retiring in the next month. What does this mean for any future work you were hoping to get? Do you have a strong relationship with their incumbent, and do they understand the benefits of what your company offers? What about your contact? Are they retiring for good, going into business for themselves or looking to continue their career in the private sector? If the latter, should you be concerned about them going to a competitor?

These are all valuable questions you should always ask yourself as you build relationships with your government clients to ensure you are prepared to ensure a stronghold regardless of what your specific contact does at the agency.

Retirement, Resignation and Other Impacts Affecting the Federal Workforce

While the retirement “tidal wave” never quite hit as hard as predicted, over the past couple of years we have started to see a strong tide of long-term government employees, decision-makers and influencers taking that step away from the government towards retirement, contract work or move to the private sector.

We first reported this drop in the 2019 Federal Media & Marketing Study. Those aged 55+ in the federal workforce dropped from 56% in 2017 to 49% in 2019. This trend continued into 2020 when it dropped again to 45% and 43% in 2021.

In 2021, with a continued pandemic, a change in administration, and amidst the Great Resignation, we asked about other challenges concerning federal employees in the workplace. Topping the list was employee morale at work (53%), followed by changes in government policies (38%) and retirement of current employees (38%).

For agency human resource professionals and agency leadership looking to keep their employees, fill positions and find ways to appeal to multiple generations entering the workforce in a competitive market, they must think of strategies of appealing to strong candidates into federal service while taking care of their current staff.

Impact on Government Contractors

Government contractors should also be paying close attention to these factors that can impact their business with client and prospect agencies. Changes in the federal workforce can impact everything from sales and marketing to HR and recruiting.

First and foremost, for those selling into federal agencies, relationships are key. Build relationships across the agency, both up and down the decision-making chain, to ensure you continue to have strong contacts in place when your initial POC or decision-maker retires, moves to another agency or gets hired away.

For those marketing to federal agencies, understand the importance of getting your message across multiple channels using different formats of content that appeal to multiple generations. An example of this can be seen in results from the Federal Media & Marketing Study dashboard with those aged 35-44 using Facebook more than those 55+ (81% and 74% respectively). The Content Marketing Review also provides some insight into the content they prefer and channels they go to by federal, state and local and education markets. Inferences can be made on generational preferences due to the average ages of those in each of those markets.

Finally, for those looking to recruit from agencies, whether federal decision-makers are retiring, looking for a new job (13%) or just “browsing” (37% are not actively looking, but open to a new position/job), there are opportunities to hire experienced government employees. Consider using multiple platforms to list your openings including traditional sites like Indeed, but more important social sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to reach government employees with opportunities.

Final Thoughts

What’s important to remember is that you must not assume that a federal employee or retiree is not open to moving on to new opportunities, or you may run the risk of losing a valuable contact to a competitor, or worse, if your relationship net is not wide enough, ultimately lose contact and business with your client agency.

Want to learn more? Watch our complimentary webinar: Hiring & Retiring: Insights from the Federal Media & Marketing Study to see detailed results and key takeaways. In addition to results, a panel of experts from GovExec and LinkedIn share additional insights.