Magazine article Government Finance Review

Getting the Right People

Magazine article Government Finance Review

Getting the Right People

Article excerpt

Recruiting and retaining qualified staff remains the most important workforce issue for the second consecutive year, according to the findings of the 2016 Workforce Trends survey conducted by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence. The survey, which is based on survey responses from the members of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) and the National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE), also found that jobs in finance are among those that state and local governments have the most difficult time filling.


To address the recruiting and retention challenges, public-sector employers need to look at improving their branding and hiring processes (which have been criticized as being slower and not as flexible as the private sector), developing a robust program for bringing employees on board, improving employee engagement, and ensuring that growing and developing employees is an organizational priority.

In 2016, IPMA-HR undertook a crossgenerational survey that looked at similarities and differences among baby boomers, generation X, and millennials that were working for ten publicsector organizations.1 The responses were almost equally divided among the three generations, who identified the following the top motivators for seeking public-sector employment:

* Good benefits

* Job security

* Pension

* Work-life balance

* Making a difference in people's lives

A little more than half of respondents (55 percent) indicated that they had a somewhat favorable view of working for government, while 32 percent had a very favorable view. Only 13 percent had either a somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable view of working in the public sector.

Referrals from friends, colleagues, or family members were the most common way for respondents to learn about their jobs, underscoring the fact that your employees can be your best recruiters. Websites of public-sector organizations and general job search websites were the next most common methods for learning about publicsector jobs. When asked to select the top three features that their current public-sector organization should emphasize to attract new employees from their same generational cohort, survey respondents most often chose the following:

* Known for retaining employees long term

* Positions with upward mobility or visibility to showcase their skills

* Offers competitive compensation packages

Medical benefits, pension, and job security were features that attracted them to the public sector.

More than 40 percent of the survey respondents found the government application process to be more cumbersome than the one used in the private sector. Additionally, more than half said that private-sector employers were far more likely to give them the chance to negotiate their salary than government employers.

On the positive side, nearly 90 percent of respondents indicated that they are likely or very likely to stay with their current organizations for the next year. The top three reasons they cited were:

* Great compensation

* Good supervisor/employee relationship

* Career development and advancement opportunities

The small number of respondents who indicated that they would like to leave during the next year cited a lack of career development and advancement opportunities, concerns with compensation, and a poor relationship with their supervisors.


Conducting surveys to determine how engaged or connected employees are to their organizations is an important way to increase performance and identify employee issues and concerns. To ensure that engagement moves in a positive direction, organizations can develop a strategy for communicating the survey results and taking action on the concerns raised.

A 2014 engagement study conducted by IPMA-HR found that 47 percent of state and local government employees are fully engaged. …

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