Government work might not initially sound like the most exciting employment opportunity, but there’s a lot more to working in the public sector than meets the eye.
It can mean an opportunity to make a difference in your community or find more fulfillment in your day-to-day job responsibilities.
Government jobs also have many practical reasons why they might be the next best thing for your career.
From greater job stability and longevity to excellent retirement plans and industry-leading healthcare benefits, the federal government offers some of the best perks and incentives of any employer. And the wide variety of jobs that fall under the government umbrella means there’s plenty of opportunities to find something appealing.
Let’s explore some of the benefits of working for the government.
1) Comprehensive Medical Coverage
One of the most important benefits of any job is healthcare coverage, and the government takes great care of its employees. In fact, federal employees have the largest selection of plans in the US. Government health plans fall under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), and options include both consumer-driven healthcare plans and preferred provider organizations (PPO) plans.
There are many health plan options for federal employees throughout the country, and federal employees have access to different plans depending on which state they live in. This variety ensures a lot of freedom to choose the health care package that works best for you and your family.
Options include low-deductible plans with higher premiums for those who use healthcare services frequently, and plans with more affordable premiums but higher deductibles and copays. Federal employees who become disabled are also eligible for Medicare coverage even if they’re under the age of 65, so you’ll be covered no matter what.
2) Generous Retirement Benefits
Few careers offer retirement benefits rivaling those found in government. The government’s retirement plans are covered and protected under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).
There are a few reasons why these benefits are considered so good:
You know exactly what benefits you’re going to get and when you’re going to get them. There’s little guesswork, and retirement plans are rarely changed.
All federal employees receive a pension when they retire. The amount varies with your years of service, but it tends to be quite high compared to many private retirement plans. And again, the amount is predictable. This takes some of the uncertainty out of retirement since you’ll always know how much income to expect.
There are actually three separate retirement plans that come together to provide your post-retirement income: your pension, your Social Security benefits, and the Thrift Savings Plan, which functions like a 401(k).
These features combine to create a comprehensive retirement package that ensures government employees are rewarded for their years of service and can retire comfortably.
3) Better Job Security and Higher Pay
Historically, government jobs tend to be more secure and stable than those in the private sector. Although some sources claim that this is no longer quite so clear-cut, generally speaking, government employees see less risk of layoffs and are less impacted by economic shifts than other types of workers.
Studies have shown that government jobs are more secure in general and that the gap widens during recessions and other economic downturns.
Government workers are over four percentage points less likely to lose their jobs than private-sector workers, and this increases to over six percent during recessions. This all should be great news for anyone who’s been affected by layoffs during past economic slowdowns.
The jobs aren’t just more secure, however: on average, government employees are paid quite a bit more than their private-sector counterparts. Benefit packages also tend to be significantly better for government jobs. Private-sector compensation does pass government jobs on average for workers with post-grad degrees.
4) Strong Focus on Work-life Balance
Work-life balance is becoming increasingly important for many employees. People are unwilling to sacrifice their family time or mental and physical well-being to put in endless hours at the office, and it’s being acknowledged more frequently that poor work-life balance and chronic stress contribute highly to employee burnout and lost productivity.
Many government jobs offer flexible working environments:
a) The option to work from home.
This flexibility can be a huge benefit for employees dealing with family issues, illnesses, or other difficult circumstances. Some studies also show that working from home can be a major boost to productivity.
If the office life isn’t for you, a government position could let you find productivity and calm working from your own home.
b) Remote-work jobs.
The ability to work from another city entirely can be a major attraction for many, and more government positions are offering remote work as an option. Studies have indicated that working remotely, or telecommuting, may actually improve productivity and efficiency and contribute to reduced stress.
c) Generous time-off packages.
Vacation and sick time tend to be above average compared to private-sector jobs, and managers may be more likely to approve requests and be flexible with sudden circumstances. Employees start with 10 paid holidays and up to 26 vacation days (based on years of service).
d) Childcare and eldercare resources.
These resources make it easier for working parents and caretakers to juggle their responsibilities. This setup not only improves productivity and reduces absences at work, but it can also relieve some of the stress that comes with these responsibilities. Knowing your loved ones are taken care of means you can focus on your job without distraction or worry.
5) Perks and Other Benefits
Government employees enjoy a lot of additional perks beyond the major ones already mentioned.
These programs help workers continue to grow and incentivize performance and retention:
a) Recruitment bonuses.
New employees in positions that are considered hard to fill may be eligible for up to 25% of base pay in sign-on bonuses. This is a great way for agencies to get employees in the door, but it doesn’t just benefit the government: workers may be more engaged when they feel their presence at the workplace is valued.
b) Relocation bonuses.
As an incentive to fill difficult positions, employees may be eligible for up to 25% of base pay as a relocation bonus. This amount applies to jobs in different commuting areas.
c) Incentive awards.
Employees who do a particularly good job may be eligible for a variety of incentives, including cash awards, referral bonuses, honorary recognition, and additional time off. These awards can also be set up in advance to encourage completion of a specific goal.
d) Retention allowances.
Government employees who move to a lower-paying position are eligible for pay retention allowances that allow them to keep their current pay. This can be a great incentive for those that want to move to different departments or agencies.
e) Employee development and continuing education.
The government provides employees with incentives to continue to grow and develop as workers, as well as to continue their education and better themselves—which can keep them from feeling stagnant and overworked in your career
f) Student loan repayment.
The federal government is also able to offer student loan repayment as an incentive or recruitment bonus for employees. With student loan debt being a hot topic lately, this perk is sure to appeal to many.
No matter your passion, there’s a government job for you. And the benefits help ensure that you’ll feel well-compensated for your work.
If you’re looking for a stable career that pays well and takes care of employees, the government just might be for you.