How to keep your federal workers from looking elsewhere

The federal workforce is shrinking, as more and more employees leave government and the rate of hiring declines. Unfortunately, this also comes at a time when the demands upon government are growing.

While this trend is hardly surprising given the current budgetary and political climate, it is incumbent on federal leaders to look behind the numbers. They need to see exactly who has departed at their own agencies, why they left, what steps need to be taken to keep highly qualified employees, and what will be required to maintain a workforce that can achieve short-term agency goals and long-term missions.

According to an analysis by my organization, the Partnership for Public Service, retirements made up the largest category of departures, accounting for 54 percent of all separations in 2013 -- reflecting the graying of the baby boom generation and the loss of much experience. Many of these older workers, for example, served in the Senior Executive Service.

Yet attrition rates also were high among entry-level employees (not a good sign for the future) and among those in the General Schedule levels 11, 12 and 13 (experienced hands who could be groomed as the next set of leaders). And to top it off, many of those leaving held some of the most high-demand occupations - doctors, nurses, engineers and IT talent.

This post was originally featured on The Washington Post's website.