vicgmyr/Shutterstock.com

Don’t Go, Please Stay

Readers weigh in on the benefits of a long-term federal career.

Last week’s column, To Stay or Not to Stay in Government, which featured my advice to a federal manager considering a jump to the private sector, hit a nerve with many readers. The benefits of a full career of federal employment and service came through loud and clear in the comments from readers of the column. In addition to the benefits that I pointed out, readers came up with additional reasons to look before you leap away from a career in federal service. There is something to be said about hearing these words of wisdom from those who have been there and are reaping the rewards of a federal career. Here’s a summary of what they had to say.

Advantages of Government

Reasons commenters listed for sticking it out in federal service included:

  • The availability of a pension, in the form of the Federal Employees Retirement System basic benefit.
  • Flexibility.
  • Almost guaranteed pay increases in the form of step increases and possibly promotions, along with the potential for annual pay adjustments.
  • The Thrift Savings Plan, including future compounding, automatic contributions and government matching.
  • The fact that while it’s easy to leave federal service, it’s not necessarily easy to come back.
  • Job security that may not be what it once was, but is better than in the private sector.
  • The privilege of serving your fellow citizens and making a difference. In the public sector, your work often impacts the lives of people on a far grander scale than does private sector work.
  • Moving to a different career inside of the federal government retains your longevity and allows for a new location and a different work and environment without sacrificing your benefits.
  • Even in a major reduction in force, the government offers priority placement and some options for employees to remain employed.
  • Early retirement: The minimum retirement age for FERS is between 55 and 57 if you have 30 or more years of service.

Pitfalls of the Private Sector

Commenters also noted the following points to consider when exploring opportunities in the private sector:

  • Be realistic about your abilities and how they would transfer to the corporate world.
  • Corporate leaders and managers come and go and contracts don’t last forever. There are very few lifetime careers out there.
  • Some private companies are all about the bottom line at the expense of salary, benefits and working conditions.
  • It’s possible the work will be more satisfying, but the grass is not always as green as you hope.
  • Be sure to have a large emergency fund before you go, in case it doesn’t work out.

A Word on Benefits

Some readers cautioned that the relative advantage of federal benefits could be erased over time by the country’s political leaders. Here’s what one wrote:

How likely is it that the federal benefits will remain? As you've seen in the last few years, federal pay and benefits have been on the chopping block every time a budget deal is made. I wouldn't count on Congress keeping the promises that have been made, and the only thing between your pension, sick leave, COLAs when you retire, and health benefits is a stroke of a pen.

My opinion on this is that Congress has a lot at stake if they make negative changes to federal employee benefits. It’s one thing for a lawmaker from a state with a relatively small number of federal employees to propose changes in benefits. Actually passing them into law is a whole other story. That requires garnering the support of other legislators, many of whom represent large numbers of federal workers. Then there’s the influence of lobbyists who are fighting to preserve and protect the valuable and earned benefits of federal employees and retirees.

Congress does seem to be laying the groundwork to change federal retirement benefits under the implementation of a new type of retirement coverage called FERS-Revised Annuity Employees, or FERS-RAE. This new designation covers employees hired in 2013 or later who are required to pay more into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund to pay for their future FERS basic retirement benefit. Will there be other changes in store for FERS or FERS-RAE employees? Time will tell.

For more information about how retirement laws actually get changed, tune in to “For Your Benefit” on Monday at 10 a.m. ET on Federal News Radio, when Bob Leins of the National Institute of Transition Planning and I will co-host an interview with Ken Gold and Marian Currinder of the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University.

(Image via vicgmyr/Shutterstock.com)

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.