THRIVE's Blog for the Public Sector

Changing Times Require Changing Workforce Strategies in the Public Sector

Public sector workplaces have long been process-focused, task-oriented and based on top down leadership. These practices and workplace cultures need to be re-evaluated for today's workforce and require more people-focused, goal-oriented cultures with collaborative teams and leadership and open communication.

Public SectorThose government agencies that have updated their strategies have noticed an increase in engagement and retention; and, they have received positive feedback from their community members. It's important to remember that disengagement and turnover have far-reaching effects, for the people working in the public sector and for the community members.

The Human Resource role has changed dramatically in the public sector, and has become much more strategic. HR knows that getting feedback is essential to developing an effective Workforce Development and Engagement Strategy. Given their role as both employer and employee advocate, it can be difficult for those in HR to get the honest feedback they need to assess the current workplace cultures within the different departments. It can also be difficult for them to analyze the feedback objectively and determine what particular aspects of those cultures should be focused on, and what specific actions should be taken.

When feedback is used to take specific actions on those aspects of culture that are most important to the team members, those team members will feel more involved, informed and important. They will see how their individual work is making a difference; and, they will be driven and challenged to find new ways to positively impact their communities.



Use the Power of We

I believe that once again people will be drawn to jobs in the public sector. In the past, government jobs were desirable because of the benefits; but, today people are looking for more. Yes, they want fair compensation and benefits. However, people want the meaning in their work to go beyond compensation. They want work with a strong commitment to community, and they are drawn to jobs with a clear purpose.

People want less bureaucracy in the workplace and more collaboration. Team members want to provide input and suggestions on how they can provide better and more efficient services. They want open communication. They want to be more involved in understanding the community needs and making decisions that will help meet those needs. They want to have an internal sense of community within their workplace, and have a strong connection to the communities they serve.Power Of We 2

Government agencies know they have some work to do. Taxpayers want to know that government leaders are doing everything possible to preserve high quality public services for their communities. As with their constituents, government leaders need to give their team members a voice, listen to what they have to say, and take action.

The key is for leaders to work together with their team members and use the power of we.



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Job Burnout is Increasing in the Public Sector

As in the private sector, the public sector is facing large numbers of retiring workers, increased competition to attract and hire good people, and the challenges of engaging and retaining strong multi-generational department teams. At the same time, the people who work in the public sector are expected to continue providing all the services that are so important for the communities and their citizens to maintain their quality of life. This has made jobs in the public sector more stressful and demanding.

Many working in the public sector are at risk for suffering burnout which can result from:

  • Not having adequate support and restraints in obtaining the necessary resources and training.

  • Not having any involvement in decisions that affect their job or a lack of challenge.

  • Feelings of isolation or a disconnect from the impact they are making.
Workforce strategies in the public sector must evolve to meet not only the changing needs of today's workforce and that of future generations, but also the changing needs of the communities they serve.

When people are empowered to make decisions and they have the support they need to achieve specific outcomes, they are more confident and they take accountability to meet the growing needs of the communities.

A diverse team of people who are acknowledged for the unique value they bring to the team will bring the necessary change and progress that the public sector needs.