Alarming Surge in Attrition Rates Raises Concerns for Government Workforce Stability

โ€ฆ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’Ž๐’๐’๐’•๐’‰ ๐’๐’‡ ๐‘ต๐’๐’—๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“ 2023, ๐’‚ ๐’•๐’๐’•๐’‚๐’ ๐’๐’‡ 200 ๐’„๐’Š๐’—๐’Š๐’ ๐’”๐’†๐’“๐’—๐’‚๐’๐’•๐’” ๐’–๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“๐’˜๐’†๐’๐’• ๐’”๐’†๐’‘๐’‚๐’“๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’

Sonam Deki

In a concerning trend, the attrition rate among civil servants in Bhutan has surged to a staggering 14.3% from January to November 2023, as reported in the latest attrition report. This marks a significant leap from 6.45% during the same period in 2022, pointing towards a worrisome increase in employee turnover within the government sector.


There are 29,060 civil servants in total, and within the initial 11 months of the year, 4,282 civil servants have been separated. In 2023, the month witnessing the highest number of separations was February, totaling 934, followed by January with 598. Conversely, September marked the month with the fewest separations, registering only 199 cases.
When considering the attrition rate from January to November in the past four years, there has been a steady rise: 2.91% in 2020, 4.39% in 2021, 6.45% in 2022, and a significant increase to 14.3% in 2023.

Voluntary resignations emerge as the primary cause of separation, constituting a whopping 80.7% of the total separations, with 3462 cases including 795 contract employees. The significant numbers in both contract and regular employment categories suggest a significant trend of civil servants choosing to leave their positions willingly. This alarming figure raises questions about job satisfaction, career development, or external opportunities, prompting the need for a thorough investigation into the underlying reasons behind civil servants choosing to leave their positions willingly.


With a total of 185 separations, contract completion is a notable cause of separation, especially within the contract employment type. This highlights the contractual nature of certain roles and the expected turnover upon completion of these contracts.


While contract completion stands out as a noteworthy cause with a total of 185 separations, especially within the contract employment type, delink cases, involving the removal of an employee from a linked position, hint at potential organizational restructuring or adjustments, more common in permanent positions.


Regarding delink, there are 32 contract and 413 regular cases, totaling 445. Delink, involving the removal of an employee from a linked position, indicates a higher incidence in the regular employment type. This may suggest organizational restructuring or adjustments more common in permanent positions.


Voluntary resignation emerges as the most prevalent type of separation across all position categories, with a total of 3462 cases, with the highest numbers in Executive Specialist (ES) 19, Professional & Management Category (PMC) 2008, and Other Categories (OC) 158. This indicates a common trend of civil servants choosing to leave their positions willingly.


Contract completion is a noteworthy cause of separation, particularly in the Professional and Management Category (PMC) with 145 cases.


The Royal Court of Justice, National Medical Services, Thimphu Thromde, and Wangdue Dzongkhag lead in the number of separations, indicating a significant turnover within key sectors. The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock also experienced notable attrition, reflecting changes within crucial sectors.


With 423 separations, the Royal Court of Justice leads in the number of civil servants leaving their positions. Following closely, the National Medical Services recorded 237 separations, indicating a significant turnover within the healthcare sector. Thimphu Thromde and Wangdue Dzongkhag are next in line with 224 and 210 separations, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock have experienced 209 and 198 separations, respectively, indicating changes within key sectors of energy, natural resources, and agriculture.

The Education and Training Services Group tops the list with the highest number of separations (1314), signaling a need for attention to workforce stability within this group. The Administration and Support Services Group, Medical and Health Services Group, Architectural, Engineering, and Land Services Group, and Legal, Judiciary, and Legislative Services Group also exhibit substantial turnover.


The Administration and Support Services Group is the second-highest in terms of separations, with a total of 769. Following closely is the Medical and Health Services Group with 366 separations, indicating a considerable turnover within the healthcare sector. The Architectural, Engineering, and Land Services Group experience 355 separations, and the Legal, Judiciary, and Legislative Services Group has 342 separations. The Foreign Services Group and Arts, Culture, and Literary Services Group exhibit low numbers of separations (4 and 8, respectively).

A closer look at resignation patterns across position categories reveals interesting dynamics. In the Executive and Specialists Category, Executive Specialists (ES) witness more resignations than Executive (EX) positions. The Professional and Management Category (P) see varying resignation levels across different position levels, with higher positions experiencing more resignations.


Out of a total of 4282 separations, voluntary resignations account for a significant portion, totaling 3462. Within the Executive and Specialists Category, both ES (Executive Specialist) and EX (Executive) positions experience voluntary resignations. ES positions have a higher count with 15, compared to 4 in the EX category. In the Professional and Management Category (P), varying levels of voluntary resignations are observed across different position levels. Higher-positioned roles (P5, P4) have more voluntary resignations compared to lower-positioned roles (P1, P2, P3).
The Supervisory and Support Category (SS) exhibits a pattern where higher-positioned roles (SS4, S1, S2) experience more voluntary resignations compared to lower-positioned roles (SS1, SS2, SS3). Within the Operational Category (O), voluntary resignations are more prominent in mid-level roles (O1, O2, O4), whereas lower-level roles (O3) have a minimal count.

The surge in attrition rates demands urgent attention from policymakers. A comprehensive analysis of the reasons behind voluntary resignations, targeted interventions in high-attrition sectors, and strategic measures to enhance job satisfaction and career development are imperative. As the backbone of government functionality, addressing and mitigating the rising attrition rates is crucial for ensuring stability and effectiveness in public service.

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