Younger State Workers Are Willing to Trade Benefits for Better Salaries; A Survey Has Found "Two Work Forces" Divided by Age

Article excerpt

Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA - A survey of state workers showing younger workers more concerned about a bigger paycheck than retirement benefits could become the basis of a formal recommendation this summer to create two types of pay-and-benefit packages.

The findings of this survey, coupled with data from manager interviews and other research, suggest that a large portion of the state's current work force would be willing to trade certain rewards or benefits - such as deferred compensation and retiree medical coverage - for greater take-home pay, according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

The results of the survey of 13,000 of the state's 81,000 full-time workers haven't yet been released. The Times-Union obtained an advance summary.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has the issue on his mind, according to spokesman Chris Schrimpf.

"Gov. Perdue recognizes the changing needs of the new work force and is looking at ways to keep the state competitive with the marketplace," he said.

The challenge is what the authors of the survey summary call "two work forces" split by age.

"While very strong for all groups, pay for performance is of even greater importance to younger employees [under 35], females, and those earning less than $35,000 per year," the authors wrote.

Pay for performance is a 10-year-old reward program that managers say has never been fully implemented. Perdue has made expansion of the program one of his administration's goals.

According to the survey, many state workers are dissatisfied with their pay. Sixty-five percent of respondents indicated the current compensation in their agencies is not sufficient to attract and retain the best workers.

A whopping 82 percent said their pay wasn't competitive with the private sector.

The survey also showed that more than one of every four state workers is "seriously considering leaving their agency" - with pay being the main reason.

People generally take government jobs with the understanding that the pay will be lower but that the benefits - such as insurance, time off and pension plans - will be better. …

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