The Public Sector Staffing Challenges

Every employer must hire the right employee for the job, and this is no different in the public sector. Still, public-sector employers face unique challenges, some of which are evolving with the changing times.

The Speed of Applicants

More and more employers tell me about applicants who accept a job, only to call the day before their start date to let the employer know they got a better offer. Some don’t even bother calling.

Public-sector employers are the most likely to have a time-honored interview process that is, in the interest of fairness, lengthy and deliberative. While it is really important to make careful hiring decisions, applicants want to know exactly what is going on, and they want to know quickly and often. Even after making an offer, keep in contact with successful candidates to let them know you are looking forward to their being there. This may mean a bit less formality and a bit more information than has been customary.

The Competition

Employers typically look to similar employers when determining their mix of salary and benefits, and this is no different in the public sector. This is a strategy that deserves careful thought. Who is competing with your county, city, town, or district for jobs? It could be other government bodies, or it could be private employers. A broader review of compensation packages might be in order. You may want to not only take a look at the public-sector surveys MSEC provides, but also our benchmark surveys for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.

Also, make sure you understand what benefits employees really want. Some workers recently graduated from college may value assistance with student loans over other benefits. Find out by surveying your more recent hires.

A Whole New Workforce

Many I speak with in the public sector are particularly concerned with the number of employees retiring after lengthy government service. There are two consequences that can flow from this.

One is the loss of institutional knowledge for employers who have not carefully planned for employees leaving the organization. It is unlawful to force employees to retire, but it is completely acceptable to ask employees about their plans for retirement. The more this can be discussed, the better prepared the employer is. This can also help employees think more carefully about retirement. If this is a concern for your organization, do call us. We have resources for you and can help you consider this carefully.

The second is an emerging workforce made up of a different generation. We have been hearing about this for a number of years and have many resources for helping you navigate this inevitable trend. Take time to think about how it might impact your workplace. One frequent area of concern is handbooks. Public-sector handbooks tend to read like ordinances. Employees new to the workforce are less and less likely to appreciate this. If you need help with your handbook, we have samples especially for the public sector on our website.

Staying up-to-date with current trends across all industries will help the public sector with its staffing challenges. Making sure you use all the MSEC resources available will keep you calm in the face of a changing workplace.