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Inclusion and Retention

State government is the third largest employer in Minnesota, with over 35,000 employees located across the state.1,2 As an employer, it is State policy to hire and retain a diverse merit-based workforce that is representative of the labor market.3 This approach aligns with recognized research on representative bureaucracy—the idea that government should reflect the diversity of the people it serves—as well as the business case for workforce diversity.4,5 A diverse and inclusive work environment is predicated on attracting and retaining employees with diverse experiences. By implementing targeted strategies to foster a more inclusive workplace, eliminate persistent disparities, and provide opportunities for professional growth, the State of Minnesota can become a model employer that values, uplifts, and retains diverse employees.

Current retention data suggest the State has room for improvement. Two-year retention rates have been declining for State employees since 2016 (when retention peaked at 85%): the State only retained 74 percent of new employees hired in FY 2020 and has retained 68 percent (to date) of new employees hired in FY 2021. Additionally, employees who are Indigenous or people of color, who have a disability, or who are veterans have consistently had lower retention rates compared to employees overall; for example, for those hired in FY 2020, retention rates for BIPOC employees (68%), employees with disabilities (70%), and veterans (67%) were lower than the retention rate for all employees (74%). 

Inclusion and retention work involves thousands of individual supervisors, senior leaders, and HR directors across all agencies within the State workforce. Although the scale of the task may be daunting, creating an inclusive State workforce where people want to stay and grow in their careers is a core value and top priority to achieve One Minnesota: we can achieve better outcomes when the State reflects and benefits from the full breadth of experiences and talent that Minnesotans have to offer. 

Goal: The State of Minnesota creates an inclusive environment and retains newly hired employees for at least two years.

Measurable goal for 2027: Achieve 75 percent two-year retention for all employees and for disaggregated subgroups for whom robust data exist (including, whenever possible: American Indians; Black people and people of color; people who have a disability; people who identify as LGBTQIA+; veterans; and women).

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Source: Minnesota Management and Budget

Technical notes: Two-year retention is calculated eight quarters after an employee’s hiring quarter; this means complete annual retention data will be available eight quarters after the end of a given hiring fiscal year (e.g., for hiring year FY 2021 [starting July 1, 2020] complete retention data were available after the end of FY 2023 [after June 30, 2023]). Two-year retention includes employees who are full-time, classified, and unlimited, as well as employees who are trainees. It excludes those who separate involuntarily due to non-certification, gross misconduct, dismissal, or death. Those who transfer from one state agency to another remain employed with the State and thus are considered to be retained.


1 Nelson, E. (2022, July 13). Minnesota’s largest employers. Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. 

2 Minnesota Management and Budget. (2021). State of Minnesota workforce planning report: FY 2021. 

3 Minnesota Statute §43A.01. State Employment: State Personnel Management: Policies. 

4 Kennedy, B. (2014). Unraveling representative bureaucracy: A systematic analysis of the literature. Administration & Society, 46(4), 395–421.

5 Dixon-Fyle, A., Dolan, K., Hunt, V., & Prince, S. (2020, May). Diversity wins: How inclusion matters. McKinsey & Company. 

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