With the federal shutdown now in its fourth week, the country’s attention is rightly on the present.  What services aren’t getting completed on behalf of taxpayers?  How will this impact the economy?  How long will essential government employees continue to report to work even though they’re not getting paid for it?

Eventually, however, this shutdown will end, and the now-shuttered federal agencies will begin to make progress on the backlog of work that has accumulated since late December.  Other news events will overtake the shutdown, and people’s focus will move away from this debacle.

At that point, federal HR groups will just be beginning to understand the long-term implications of the shutdown – and they won’t be pretty.

Consider these statistics from the annual federal employee survey, and the questions they raise:

The Office of Personnel Management reports that only 42% of federal employees believe that their work unit is able to recruit people with the right skills. How difficult will recruitment be after the public has witnessed the suffering endured by government employees during this shutdown?

Currently, two out of three employees believe that their agency is a good place to work – a number that has stayed constant or grown for the last five years. How far will this number fall in next year’s survey? And how will this impact employee retention?

Only 50% of employees expressing an intent to leave their jobs are engaged, while 76% of those expressing an intent to stay are engaged. Given that lower levels of engagement have been tied to much lower levels of productivity, how much will taxpayer services suffer even before disgruntled employees leave their agency?

Even before the shutdown, recruitment was likely to become a major problem.  The average age of a federal employee is 47.5.  Only 21% of private sector workers are over 55, but 28% of federal employees are over 55.  Millennials are needed more than ever to fill the coming wave of baby boomer retirements in the government.

But while Millennials are needed, they weren’t likely to jump on board even before the recession. Only seven percent of government employees are under 30.  Millennials are expected to make up three-quarters of the workforce within six years – but they’re certainly not on track to make up three-quarters of the federal workforce.  After hearing the stories of federal employees unable to pay for food or rent during the shutdown, how many Millennials that are raising young families will be willing to take that risk?

Recruiting honest, hard-working employees is not something that Trump, Pelosi or McConnell will have to tackle in 2025.  But for most federal government HR professionals, the problem lies just a few years down the road.  Time will tell just how bad the long-term impact of the shutdown was for recruitment.

To learn how CMTS:HR can help your agency better handle employee complaints, email us at 855-636-5361 or email us at Team_CMTSHR@CMTSHR.com