CASE STUDY

What is "The Great Resignation" and What Should Public Sector Employers Know?

In August 2021, a staggering 4.3 million people in the U.S. quit their jobs in search of better opportunities and pay.

While the "Great Resignation" has had a tangible impact on all organizations, it has been particularly difficult for the public sector. Historically, government recruiting and hiring processes have not been competitive for top talent. Many public sector organizations opt for a “post and pray” approach to seeking relevant candidates.

Learn how some government organizations combating these recruiting challenges by communicating the value of public service and the perks that come with working in the public sector.

What is the "Great Resignation?"

The "Great Resignation" refers to the millions of Americans quitting their jobs to seek better benefits, higher wages and a more flexible schedule and work environment. The COVID-19 pandemic has lasted so long that it’s affecting people both mentally and physically. It’s caused people to reflect on their priorities and life in general. Employers are now starting to switch workers from working from home to the office like before the pandemic.

Whether it’s a hybrid work environment or full-time office work, employees want to find more flexible work environments or to continue working from home. Their families are starting to become more of a priority. Dr. LaNail R. Plummer, CEO of the Onyx Therapy Group, explained that our society places an emphasis on working in an actual office so that employers can monitor workers.

However, this process of monitoring workers can lead to micromanagement as organizations focus on working in a building for productivity. And moreover, the pandemic proved something that many employees have known for years: that productivity has nothing to do with a physical location and that many people can be productive and happier working from home.

How Can Organizations Overcome the "Great Resignation?"

Companies all over the world are beginning to evolve their recruitment processes from traditional methods to finding new talent sources. They are even investing more in innovative technologies to create better work experiences for employees.

The public sector is facing a familiar problem: how do government organizations attract top talent when the job market is more competitive than ever? As more and more baby boomers retire, organizations now realize they need to change their recruitment processes to target more millennial workers. There are three main areas that public sector HR management should focus on to hire the best younger employees:

  • Using technology to optimize the workforce
  • Engaging with employees and creating retention strategies to avoid attrition
  • Reinventing the hiring process to target the next generation of workers

Speaking the language of the next generation is key. Many millennials grew up post 9-11 and the terrorist attacks had a strong impact on them. Whereas a past driving force for people to work at government agencies was job security, that’s not the most important factor for the next generation of employees. Many want to work for the public sector because they are working for something bigger than themselves. Other benefits like gym memberships, help paying off student loans, flexible work schedules and diversity in the workplace can also appeal to millennials.

Organizations need to focus on building a future-proof public sector workforce by branching out with different governmental job recruiting and retention strategies.

Tips for Making Public Sector Jobs More Appealing to New Talent

Organizations need to highlight the benefits of working for the public sector in a way that is attractive to millennials, not just baby boomers or Gen Xers. The next generation includes some of the most passionate and service-driven people out there and their patriotism spurs them to work in a job that is meaningful to them.

Public sector employers can leverage this by linking public service to the overarching theme of giving back to their communities. Also, highlighting the differences between the public and private sectors can be done in a positive light to instill a sense of mission in every employee, no matter their job or title.

Organizations can also focus on benefits that matter to the younger workforce, as mentioned above. Millennials have a different definition of job security as they plan on changing jobs frequently rather than staying with one organization for their whole career.

The lack of modern technologies in the public sector has also significantly impacted how organizations attract and retain new talent. The private sector has mastered the use of technology to be more efficient. Today, people want to interact on-demand with their government the same way they do with private sector companies. This means organizations need to streamline internal processes and operations using technology like automation and enhanced cybersecurity to mitigate data risks.

Outdated public sector recruiting processes can hinder an organization’s attempt to find top talent in the next generation. Technology upgrades can make all government processes more efficient and draw in the best millennial job seekers.

Key Takeaways

To combat the "Great Resignation," public sector HR teams should reinvent the hiring process to focus on the most meaningful things that public sector work can provide to newer generations. Organizations can do this by connecting their mission to helping employees give back to their communities, fostering a better work-life balance and benefits like help paying back student loans. Changing the hiring process by upgrading technology and appealing to workers in the next generation can also help the public sector become more competitive all while tackling COVID-19 employment challenges.

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Jason Litchney

Jason Litchney brings over 15 years of experience and passion in marketing for the public, private and non-profit sectors. Jason is a dedicated leader, national speaker and entrepreneur responsible for founding and managing the growth of multiple organizations recognized on the INC 500 fastest growing companies list. Jason serves as the Marketing and Employment Branding Manager at CPS HR Consulting and helps public agencies brand their organization to attract and retain talent.

About CPS HR Consulting

CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.