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September 2008

A State of Change

An older work force yields a new generation of state employees.

by Clint Shields

Texas government agencies have a big task: Replace an aging work force with a younger one that has varying views on issues such as money, family and authority.

More than 155,000 Texans worked for state agencies in fiscal 2006.

In fiscal 2007, more than 25,000 people left state employment, a turnover rate of more than 17 percent. The turnover rate was a 10 percent increase over fiscal 2006 and the highest in five years.

“State service is changing,” says Ann Fuelberg, executive director of the Employees Retirement System of Texas. “More workers are retiring at their earliest eligibility and opening the ranks to a younger generation.”

State Benefit
Break Down

Based on an average annual base salary of $36,182, state employees enjoy a benefits package that totals more than $54,000, including health insurance, paid holidays, sick leave and vacation pay.

Source: State Auditor’s Office

  • $1,385
    mental pay
  • $2,334
  • $3,049 Pay for
    legally required benefits
  • $5,323 Insurance
  • $5,829 Pay for time not worked
  • $36,182 Base pay
    (average state agency employee)


Annual retirements in the 2000s have averaged about 1,700 more than in the 90s, and nearly one-third of state workers are age 50 or older, meaning the state may continue experiencing a retirement increase. Since 1998, the Employee Retirement System has paid more than $9.5 billion in retirement annuities, almost tripling the amount paid from 1988 to 1997.

An eligible work force of more than 11.5 million means there are plenty of Texans to fill those jobs. Recruiting and retaining them is the challenge.

Generations Merge

With baby boomers – those 48 to 62 years old – beginning to retire, two distinct age groups follow. Generation X – 28 to 47 years old – and millenials, also called generation Y – 18 to 27 years old – represent almost 65 percent of the state’s eligible work force. Both groups differ from their predecessors.

According to the State Auditor’s Office (SAO), baby boomers see money as a sign of recognition or status and are often workaholics who live to work, rather than having a work/life balance. Gen Xers, meanwhile, tend to view money as a means to freedom and independence. They want balance in their family and work lives and will challenge others in the workplace. Millenials also want balance in their family and work lives and look upon money as a means to support their lifestyle. But they are more apt to want total collaboration with work superiors. Similar to gen Xers, they can multitask and are technologically savvy.

Economic conditions, however, could help shape some of those views. Fuelberg says the stability of state jobs may become attractive to younger workers.

“Texas has established a solid benefits package that clearly appeals to employees who place great value on their health insurance and the security of their retirement plan,” she says.

Connecting People with Positions

Texas state agencies still employ some tried-and-true methods of attracting new workers, posting job vacancies in hardcopy format or advertising them in newspapers. But the explosion in Internet and wireless communication technology over the past decade has provided new avenues for reaching potential job seekers.

“You still have to do the standard hardcopy postings, but the Internet is very useful,” says Ralph Osio, a recruiter for the Texas General Land Office (GLO).

Robert Doyal, a millenial and a senior Web designer/developer for the Texas Comptroller’s office, began his career in state government after a friend mentioned a job posting on Craigslist, the popular online community bulletin board. The Internet helped him research the agency’s role and prepare for his interview, he says.

“The Internet played an important role in locating and applying for this position,” says Doyal. “Those who interviewed me spoke passionately about their work and their responsibility to the citizens of Texas. Their energy was contagious.”

The GLO has used job-posting Web sites similar to Craigslist and Monster, and still uses plenty of newspapers’ job postings. But the agency has also had success with postings circulating through professional LISTSERVs and by posting directly to various university Web sites – in a school’s career services area, for example.

“The college lists have been great,” Osio says. “We’ve had great response among the student population.”

All state agencies are required to post jobs at, but the State Auditor’s Office (SAO) receives added Internet exposure through print ads. A Sunday ad in the Austin American-Statesman, for example, nets the agency its print ad, plus weeklong postings on the paper’s Web site as well as on Yahoo’s Hot Jobs Web pages. In addition, the SAO posts entry-level audit positions on college career services Web sites, and senior and specialty positions on industry Web sites such as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association.

“We get a good response rate from online postings,” says Janet Macdonald, a human resources specialist with the SAO, which typically receives more than 300 applications for entry-level audit positions, including out-of-state applicants. And many of those applicants are fresh from college, Macdonald says. FN

Generational Differences in the Workplace

Today’s work force comprises three distinct groups of Texans.

Baby Boomers Generation X Millenials
Current Age 48 to 62 28 to 47 18 to 27
Basic Outlook optimistic and positive skeptical and curious hopeful and confident
The Meaning of Money recognition and status freedom and independence the means to maintain their lifestyle
Core Values optimism, involvement skepticism, fun, informality and independence realism, confidence, extreme fun, social
Strengths on the Job teamwork and dedication adaptability, creativity and techno-literacy multitaskers, tech-savvy
Challenges on the Job uncomfortable with conflict impatience, weak interpersonal skills expect convenience
On Work Hours… time management if I finished my work, why am I still here? I’ll work as late as you want, as long as I’m not bored

Source: Employee Retirement System of Texas

State government jobs are posted online at, and information on the state’s benefits package is available at

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