Honoring Public Sector Workers in 2023
As we celebrate public servants across the country this month, NCPERS would like to recognize the important work of public pension staff, trustees, and stakeholders.
By: Hank Kim, Executive Director and Counsel, NCPERS
This article was originally featured in the May 2023 issue of The Monitor.
May 7-13th is Public Service Recognition Week. This holiday was created nearly 40 years ago to honor public servants and their impact on society, while generating awareness of the various roles that make up the public sector.
It hasn't been an easy few years for public sector workers. During the height of the pandemic, frontline workers including teachers, transit workers, and public safety officers, served the public even though effective vaccinations would be more than a year away and there were shortages of personal protective equipment. More mundane, but still important in the administration of government, many workers faced the challenge of working remotely for the first time while implementing brand-new community assistance programs and pandemic-related services. Adding to these challenges, politicians continue to question the value of defined benefit pensions as part of the overall compensation for public servants.
I'm proud of the role NCPERS plays in protecting public sector retirement benefits. Our members collectively oversee $4 trillion in retirement funds managed on behalf of seven million retirees and nearly 15 million active public servants—including firefighters, law enforcement officers, and teachers.
As my colleague Bridget Early argued in her recent commentary, pensions play a key role in attracting and retaining talent in the public sector. She cites research from NIRS that found 84 percent of millennials working in state and local governments said their pension benefit was the reason they're staying in the public sector, despite the majority (80%) believing they could earn more in the private sector.
Unlike short-term solutions like sign-on bonuses, pensions are long-term solutions for worker retention. But in order to effectively manage and administer these critical benefits, public pension funds need to first ensure they can hire and retain quality staff. In 2022, NCPERS met with a small group to explore these challenges. Late last year, we published the inaugural Public Pension Compensation Survey to help funds benchmark their compensation and benefits packages against peers. The 2022 survey featured data from more than 150 public pension funds and included detailed compensation information for nine c-suite positions.
Expanding on the success of the inaugural survey, this year's Public Pension Compensation Survey will focus on compensation data for mid- and senior-level roles. Survey participants will once again receive complimentary access to the online dashboard—featuring filters that allow for apples-to-apples comparisons—and a free copy of the report. In the next few weeks, we'll be distributing the 2023 Public Pension Compensation Survey to pension funds all over the country. Please reach out to email@example.com if you have any questions about how to participate.
As we celebrate public servants across the country this month, NCPERS would like to recognize the important work of public pension staff, trustees, and stakeholders. Through advocacy, research, and education, we hope to make your jobs just a little easier.
To participate in Public Service Recognition Week, we encourage you to share updates on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn about what you love about working in the public sector. Please tag NCPERS and use the hashtags #PSRW #publicpensions so we can help amplify your stories!
- Facebook: @NCPERS
- Twitter: @NCPERS
- LinkedIn: @National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems