Northam announces new compensation tool to better recruit, retain Virginia state employees

ralph northamGov. Ralph Northam announced a second compensation tool to assist state agencies in recruiting and retaining top talent for the Commonwealth’s state workforce. The new sign-on and retention bonus tool, effective January 1, 2019, will enable agencies to make contributions to employees’ Virginia529 accounts as an incentive to attract and retain those in critical or high-turnover positions.

The Virginia Department of Human Resource Management and Virginia529 collaborated to develop a streamlined administrative process to facilitate the use of this new compensation tool, which will be available in addition to a student loan repayment bonus approved in June for similar positions. The Commonwealth has also promoted the public service student loan forgiveness program, through which employment at a state agency may qualify any employee to receive student loan forgiveness.

“I am proud of Virginia’s talented state workforce, and it is critical that our state agencies can continue attracting and retaining the best employees,” said Governor Northam. “It is my hope that this new compensation tool not only helps us fill critical and high-turnover positions, but also encourages other Virginia employers to consider similar incentives. At the same time, this new tool helps provide a path to affordable higher education—a key priority of my administration—for Virginia’s state employees and their families.”

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia projects the total charges for undergraduate students at Virginia’s state-supported four-year institutions will be $24,003 for the 2018–2019 academic year, an increase of 4.4 percent over last year’s costs.

“Our Commonwealth is fortunate to offer a premier 529 College Savings Plan program for investment in our children’s future that can be used to assist us in offering this one-time bonus,” said Secretary of Administration Keyanna Conner. “A thriving state workforce not only benefits Virginia’s state employees and their families, but also the citizens of the Commonwealth that they serve.”

Agencies must fund such bonuses from their current budgets and will require that employees remain employed for up to one year in exchange for the 529 plan contributions. Investing in employees having unique skills engenders greater engagement and longer tenures, and results in savings in future recruitment and turnover costs.

In the first year of his administration, Governor Northam has taken significant steps to invest in the state government workforce, including eight weeks of paid parental leave, a shared savings incentive program to help state employees shop for better-value medical care, and the two sign-on and retention bonuses to help fill difficult and critical positions.

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