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Most Virginia state employees not satisfied with how Youngkin's telework policy rolled out, survey finds

The policy required all state employees to return to work on-site and full-time by July 5 unless they got an approved teleworking agreement.

NORFOLK, Va. — Author's note: The video above is about inflation's impact on personal spending. It aired on Aug. 1.

Over three-fourths of Virginia state employees aren't satisfied with how Gov. Glenn Youngkin's new telework policy was implemented, according to a Virginia Government Employees Association (VGEA) survey.

The policy required all state employees to return to work on-site and full-time by July 5 unless they got an approved teleworking agreement from the agency head, cabinet secretary or governor's chief of staff, depending on how many days were requested.

The Republican governor announced the policy on May 5, saying "creative, innovative, and effective solutions for all Virginians" happen with in-person interaction. 

State employees were able to submit a telework application starting May 6 but faced a quick deadline of May 20. The applications were supposed to be reviewed by June 3, but the Youngkin administration missed that deadline, the Washington Post reported.

Breaking down the survey results

With 1,222 survey responses, 77% of Virginia state employees said they aren't satisfied with how the policy was implemented, while 21% are satisfied. 

In a similar vein, 72% of employees said they were experiencing negative impacts due to the new policy, while 19% said their impacts were positive.

When it comes to continuing to work for the state government, 58% said they are thinking about either retirement or leaving for the private sector due to the new policy.

77% of the state employees said they requested telework under the new policy, while 15% said they didn't and 9% said they weren't allowed to request. 

50% said all of their requested days were approved, 23% said their request was denied, 16% said they didn't get a response and 11% said not all of their days were approved.

When it comes to the number of days granted, 24% said no days were approved, 33% said one day a week was approved, 22% said two days were approved, 3% said three days were approved, another 3% said four days were approved and 5% said five days were approved.

When it comes to the number of days allowed to request telework, 40% said they could only ask for one day, 23% said they could ask for two, 3% said they could ask for three, 2% said they could ask for four, 8% said they weren't allowed to ask and 25% said they weren't limited.

Why state workers are taking issue with the policy

Dylan Bishop, a lobbyist for the VGEA, said the biggest concern was that the policy could exasperate issues with recruitment and retention for the state government because flexible work options make employment more appealing.

"State employees comprise the state government," Bishop said. "These dedicated public servants provide the essential services that are necessary for us to keep and maintain the world we live in."

Bishop also elaborated on some of the concerns employees have with returning to the office, including transportation costs (gas prices, parking fees, etc), as well as child care and elder care arrangements. 

"It takes upwards of 12 to 18 months to find daycare placement, in the best of circumstances," Bishop said." To expect these employees to totally upend their lives and change their work balance in a two-month timespan, we were concerned with that."

Bishop said this was especially problematic considering the short turnaround between Youngkin's May 5 announcement and the July 5 return to office date.

When reached for a comment on the VGEA survey, Youngkin's spokesperson Macaulay Porter said 1,690 state employees were hired from May 1 to June 30, onboarded with knowledge of the telework policy, while 1,066 left state employment, including both resignations and retirements.

She added that more than 9,000 state employees are teleworking with a majority of them in the office most of the work week.

"An office-centric environment fosters greater collaboration, innovation and teamwork providing an even higher level of service for all Virginians," Porter said in a statement. "Governor Youngkin is thrilled by the shared commitment our state employees have to serve Virginians and looks forward to building on this progress together."

Also, a recent poll from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) found that 50% of Virginian voters said they either somewhat or strongly support Youngkin's policy, while 43% either somewhat or strongly oppose it.

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