A Performance Audit
An Annual Report on Classified Employee Turnover for Fiscal Year 2020
The fiscal year 2020 statewide turnover rate for classified regular full- and part-time employees was 18.6 percent. This rate is based on 27,882 employee separations and an average headcount of 149,780.50. When compared with fiscal year 2019, this is a decrease from the statewide turnover rate of 20.3 percent.
The decrease in turnover in fiscal year 2020 reversed a trend of annual increases from 2016 until 2019.
- Voluntary separations decreased 11.4 percent since fiscal year 2019.
- The top three reaons employees reported in exit surveys for leaving state employment during fiscal year 2020 were retirement, better pay/benefits, and poor working conditions/environment.
- Turnover was highest among employees under the age of 30, and more than half of the employees who left state employment in fiscal year 2020 had fewer than 5 years of state service.
- Criminal Justice had the highest turnover rate (30.9 percent) among the state’s 27 occupational categories in fiscal year 2020, followed by the Custodial (28.1 percent), and Social Services (24.4 percent) occupational categories.
- Among agencies with 1,000 or more employees, the Juvenile Justice Department and the Department of Criminal Justice had the highest turnover rates in fiscal year 2020, at 41.2 percent and 27.5 percent, respectively.
- Too early to determine the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on state employee turnover.
The statewide turnover rate for classified regular full- and part-time employees for fiscal year 2020 was 18.6 percent, based on a total of 27,882 voluntary and involuntary separations and a statewide average headcount of 149,780.50. That was a decrease from the fiscal year 2019 statewide turnover rate of 20.3 percent.
Employees have various voluntary and involuntary reasons for leaving state employment or transferring to another state agency or higher education institution. Common voluntary reasons for leaving have included better working conditions, pay, or career opportunities; retirement; and entering or returning to school. Employees also leave agencies involuntarily, for reasons such as termination for cause or reduction in force.
In November 2020, the State Auditor's Office surveyed 101 state agencies (67 agencies responded) to gain a better understanding of how employee turnover affects state agencies and why employees left employment with state agencies. Agencies reported that employee pay and retirement were the top two why employees left their agency.
In fiscal year 2019, state employee turnover marked a 10-year high. This upward trend continued in the first two quarters of fiscal year 2020. In each of those two quarters, turnover rose compared with the same quarter of the previous year. However, that trend changed in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020, which began in March, along with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on state agencies. State employee turnover in the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2020 declined compared with the same two quarters of the previous fiscal year.
Texas’ Higher Unemployment Rate May Have Contributed to the Decreasing Turnover Rates among State Employees
Excluding retirements and involuntary separations, the fiscal year 2020 turnover rate is 11.1 percent. That rate is often considered more of a “true” turnover rate because it reflects preventable turnover. “True” turnover decreased from 2019, when the rate was 12.4 percent. At the same time, the Texas unemployment rate increased from 3.6 percent in fiscal year 2019 to 6.7 percent in fiscal year 2020.
The information in this chapter reflects the fiscal year 2020 employee turnover that is considered a loss to the State; therefore, separations attributable to a transfer from one state agency to another state agency or higher education institution are excluded, because interagency transfers are not considered a loss to the State as a whole.
Females made up the majority (57.6 percent) of classified full- and part-time employees in fiscal year 2020. Overall, the turnover rate was about the same for female (18.4 percent) and male (18.9 percent) employees. Compared to fiscal year 2019, the turnover rate decreased for both females (20.3 percent) and males (20.4 percent).
The turnover rate of 38.4 percent for employees in the 16 to 29 age group category was the highest among all age group categories, and was more than twice the State’s average (see Table 6 on the next page). However, this age group category had a 3.9 percent decrease in the number of employees leaving State employment in fiscal year 2020 compared with fiscal year 2019.
The turnover rates for employees within the Two or More Races racial/ethnic group (32.9 percent), Black racial/ethnic group (23.2 percent), Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander racial/ethnic group (22.2 percent) and American Indian/Alaskan Native racial/ethnic group (20.4 percent) were higher than the statewide turnover rate of 18.6 percent. All other racial/ethnic groups had turnover rates lower than the statewide average.
The turnover rate for classified regular part-time employees was 40.3 percent for fiscal year 2020. That turnover rate was almost double the turnover rate of classified regular full-time employees; however, part-time employees only made up just over 1 percent of the average headcount for the State.
In fiscal year 2020, 37.6 percent of classified regular full-time employees earned less than $40,000 annually. Employees in that salary grouping made up the majority (59.3 percent) of full-time employee turnover.
Turnover was Highest in Article V (Public Safety and Criminal Justice) and Article II (Health and Human Services) of the General Appropriations Act
Agencies within General Appropriations Act Article V (Public Safety and Criminal Justice) experienced the highest turnover rate among General Appropriations Act articles in fiscal year 2020, followed by agencies within Article II (Health and Human Services). Almost three-fourths (71.2 percent) of the State’s classified workforce was employed within those two articles of the General Appropriations Act.
Three of the 27 occupational categories in the State’s Position Classification Plan had turnover rates higher than the statewide turnover rate of 18.6 percent in fiscal year 2020. Those occupational categories include Criminal Justice (30.9 percent turnover), Custodial (28.1 percent), and Social Services (24.4 percent). Combined, those three occupational categories accounted for almost one-half (45.0 percent) of the State’s classified workforce and 66.6 percent of the State’s total separations in fiscal year 2020.
Overall, 22 job classification series with 100 or more employees had turnover rates higher than the statewide turnover rate of 18.6 percent during fiscal year 2020. For example, the Juvenile Correctional Officer job classification series had the highest turnover rate (59.4 percent) among all job classification series with 100 or more employees in fiscal year 2020. In addition, the fiscal year 2020 turnover rate of 59.4 percent for that series increased from the 46.1 percent turnover rate in fiscal year 2019.
More Than Half of the Employees Who Left State Employment Had Fewer Than Five Years of State Service
Employees with fewer than five years of state service accounted for 65.0 percent of total separations (18,124 separations).
A total of 10 regions and 75 counties had turnover rates that exceeded the statewide turnover rate of 18.6 percent. The Southeast Texas region experienced the highest turnover rate (31.1 percent) among all regions of the state in fiscal year 2020. Within the Southeast Texas region, the Correctional Officer job classification series had a headcount of 2,359.50 and a turnover rate of 49.8 percent. Direct Support Professional was the second largest headcount with 628 and a turnover rate of 48.1 percent in fiscal year 2020.
The Juvenile Justice Department had the highest agency turnover rate of 41.2 percent in fiscal year 2020; that was an increase from 35.2 percent in fiscal year 2019. The Department of Criminal Justice had the second highest agency turnover rate (27.5 percent) among state agencies, followed by the Health and Human Services Commission (24.7 percent). Those three agencies accounted for 70.4 percent of total statewide separations, including interagency transfers.
Based on 3,517 employee exit surveys (not including employees from higher education institutions), the top 3 reasons employees reported for voluntarily leaving employment at their state agencies during fiscal year 2020 were:
- Better pay/benefits.
- Poor working conditions/environment.
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