Thought Leadership

Embracing Best Practices to Recruiting and Retention in the Public Sector

According to The Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), 3 to 4.5 million employees quit their jobs each month. Coined as “The Great Resignation,” the country is experiencing an increased rate of people leaving the workforce. Job openings continue to grow, while the number of individuals looking for work decreases. 

The public sector is not immune to changes in the job market. This shift creates challenges such as financial expenses, loss in productivity, increased workload for the remaining team, and loss of morale from losing a valuable colleague.  

Public sector organizations must implement effective strategies to get the right people in place and create a workplace environment where employees feel encouraged to stay.  

Strategies to Recruit Great Employees 

Finding and hiring the right personnel comes with challenges in the public sector. There are a variety of obstacles – attracting a new generation to the workforce, competing with modernization techniques in the private sector, and even being able to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of a growing community.  

However, implementing new approaches to your hiring process can make a difference. 

Job seekers want a clear understanding of how a potential role aligns with their career goals. They are motivated by mission-driven work and opportunities to develop. An effective approach to recruiting prospective employees is to identify or implement a clear path for how the job connects to an employee’s values.  

Careers in the public sector are focused on serving the community, which is a great way to appeal to an employee’s altruistic motivations. Employers must shift the thought process from an employee fulfilling a job duty, to serving a purpose. 

Employers must also focus on staff health.  

In a survey focused on public sector HR professionals, 67% of respondents agreed that mental health in the workplace should be a priority. Although every job comes with a level of expectation to perform, job seekers should not fear that they are accepting a position that will cause stress and anxiety.  

It is important to recognize that the perfect prospective candidate does not exist. Most likely, the individuals with all the ideal years of experience are already working for your organization or others. The new wave of the Millennials and Gen-Z workforce may not have the exact experience for the position – but employers can leverage skills like research and writing, computer competency, social media, and coding to recruit a younger generation of workers looking to enter the public sector. 

Effective Methods to Increase Employee Retention 

Create a standard for company culture. A competitive salary is not always the driving force in recruiting and retaining qualified staff. Although employees should be compensated appropriately, company culture significantly impacts the decision to stay with an organization.  

Hays US, an international recruiting firm, conducted a survey of over 2,000 active job seekers. 47% of respondents indicated that poor company culture was their primary reason for leaving their job.  

Employees are motivated to contribute to company success and remain loyal to their employer when they feel valued by leadership. This includes reducing workplace stress, having an open door of communication, and offering opportunities for growth and development. 

Modernization is essential. A study focused on personnel in tech, IT, and software roles showed that employees experienced job burnout due to working with outdated technology.  Aging systems often include slow manual processes, rather than automated operations to help with work efficiency.  

Vicki Carlsen, Finance Director in Tukwila, WA, stated that outdated technology was the cause of inefficient work processes. Her team spent more time focusing on tasks such as managing paperwork and manually creating reports – as opposed to performing actual job duties.  

Tukwila’s decision to modernize to CentralSquare’s cloud-based financial software system helped reduce employee stress and improve operations.  

Technology that features capabilities such as automated processes and configurable workspaces that adapt to your needs contributes to team success and job satisfaction. Employees can spend more time focusing on job functions that serve the community. 

Develop Employee Retention Strategies. Intentional efforts to invest in your team and their success builds employee commitment and loyalty. Effective strategies can include: 

  • Hiring staff that fit the company culture. 

  • Providing opportunities for training, development, and mobility. 

  • Ensuring new hires receive proper onboarding. 

  • Acknowledging employee contributions through leadership and peer recognition. 

  • Promoting work-life balance. 

  • Creating opportunities for remote or hybrid work. 

Embrace New Approaches 

Public administration employees are vital and necessary for every community, having the task of managing a community’s operations, development, and sustainability. The industry needs quality staff to meet labor demands.  

Despite the tight labor market and increased competition, public sector agencies can take steps to improve recruiting and retention strategies. As your organization embraces new approaches to HR practices and employee engagement, the result is increased productivity and organizational success. 

Learn More About Tukwila's decision to move to the cloud, and how it helped improve their team’s success.