State governments are facing increasing difficulties in recruiting and retaining top talent to their agencies, in part because of eroding confidence in what has long been seen as the mainstay benefits of government employment, according to a recent Accenture study.

Traditional benefits of government jobs have included “secure lifetime employment and generous health benefits followed by a robust pension for retirement,” the study states. However, job security isn’t seen as a given for state employees any longer, and the state workforce is being forced to make larger contributions towards healthcare benefits, according to the state chief administrators that responded to the study.

The study finds that lifetime employment has less appeal among millennials, while 85 percent of states surveyed cited an inability to offer competitive salaries on par with the private sector. There’s also a lack of public support that has hurt perceptions of working in state governments.

The survey affirms that state governments have a problem recruiting and retaining a workforce: 42 percent reported difficulty attracting new employees, 36 percent said a flexible and agile workforce was a top challenge, and the growing number of retiring employees was cited by 36 percent as another challenge.

Among other recommendations, the study suggests that states reshape recruiting efforts and try to transform the employee experience. The study recommends modernizing job descriptions and investing wisely in training that can differentiate state jobs from the private sector positions, and suggests that further use of automation technologies might help to both improve public services and attract a better workforce.

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