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What Do Employees Really Want in a Workplace This Year

Attracting new employees and shaping a workplace culture that makes your organization an employer of choice are two of the biggest challenges that public sector agencies face. Finding out what motivates workers in 2023 should be at the top of your list of things to focus on in recruitment and HR. After all, the quality of employees in your organization directly impacts your success.

But finding out what employees want in 2023 is only half the problem. You also want to ensure that your workplace can meet these employee expectations in order to increase retention and reduce turnover. So, what attracts employees to agencies—and keeps them there? And what can public sector organizations learn from it?

Why Organizations Need to Focus on Employee Motivation

You may be tempted to skip becoming an employer of choice because it may seem too involved, but employer turnover can be a very expensive and frustrating problem. Plus, what draws workers to employers or convinces others to stay has changed over the past decades as technology and recruiting in the digital age have transformed the workplace and hiring process. What employees want now is different than even ten years ago, much less decades ago. So, what truly motivates employers in 2023?

What Motivates Employees to Join an Organization?

Here are some of the top things we’ve found that workers want from their job in 2023.

Job Security and Stability

Last year was a turbulent year for workers due to economic uncertainty, the debate over returning to the office and record inflation. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic illustrated that people could lose their jobs at any time, eroding any sense of long-term job security. Predictably, employees want more stability and job security. Letting workers know that you’ll do everything you can to retain them or employ them if circumstances change goes a long way. This can also motivate workers to stay at a job.

Clear Communication

Recent research by MIT showed that what employees want from employers also includes clear communication, especially when it comes to plans to return to the office and layoffs. Therefore, employers need to work on building trust with workers by providing clear communication in real-time, especially with major or sensitive news. This sense of trust will also help employers motivate their teams during hard times.

A Competitive Salary

As groceries, rent and other costs continue to rise, a competitive salary is one of the top things workers want in 2023. Employers need to focus on compensating employees at salaries that meet or exceed industry standards. And don’t forget to include existing employees when factoring in compensation: hiring new workers at salaries higher than existing employees can be demoralizing and lead to higher rates of attrition.


Research has also shown that flexibility remains high on the list of employee needs. This demand certainly isn’t new, but recent statistics illustrate that 58% of employees stated that they wanted to work part-time remotely. Also, 87% of workers that were offered flexible work options took advantage of working from home at least three days per week.

What Public Sector Employers Can Learn From This

Just because what employees want is changing doesn’t mean that this is bad for public sector organizations. In fact, it may be a good thing. After all, the employees who serve in these public sector roles directly impact public health and the well-being of constituents. When government jobs remain vacant, it affects the lives of Americans everywhere, from airport security and safety at public schools to failing infrastructure.

Younger workers have said that meaningful work is important to them. Public sector organizations can use this to their benefit when recruiting the next generation of public servants.

Public sector agencies should also work on employee retention by focusing on the multiple factors that affect why a worker stays at or leaves a job. These factors include benefits, company culture, flexible work options, professional development and more.

Some areas to focus on that could help are:

  • Monitoring high turnover risks by assessing the main factors that you can collect through employee surveys
  • Creating flexible work options
  • Offering opportunities for career advancement through upskilling
  • Improving and streamlining the onboarding process
  • Ensuring managers are not pushing employees away by micromanaging, threatening workers or favoring employees

Also, doing something as simple as recognizing your employees’ hard work can motivate people to stay at your organization. A positive company culture that focuses on employee well-being is always appreciated by workers.

Key Takeaways on What Employees Want in 2023

Focusing on what motivates workers in 2023 is vital to increasing employee retention and recruiting star talent. As recruitment and retention are two of the biggest challenges for public sector employees, focusing on flexible work options, job security, clear communication and offering competitive salaries can help.

Keep these needs in mind when developing strategies to attract better recruits and motivate employees to stay at your organization. After all, happy employees can better help you attain agency goals.

Does your organization need help with training managers and HR employees? CPS HR has more than 150 professional education courses that can keep everyone up-to-date on the most important skills.