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Public sector organizations need to reinvent their processes to attract top talent

Join Ceridian and Government Technology on September 17 to learn more about best practices for providing world-class employee experiences in the cloud

According to Ceridian’s latest Executive Survey, the majority (53%) of executives say they will increase the size of their team within the organization in the next 12 months, with 35% leveraging gig workers to do so. Broadly speaking, employers globally are ramping up their hiring efforts, engaging with alternative talent sources and ecosystems, and investing in new technologies to build better employee experiences. Meanwhile, the public sector is once again faced with a familiar conundrum: how do they draw into their ranks the best possible talent in a market that is more competitive than ever? This was no easy task before the pandemic, and has only become even more challenging as parts of the world begin to reopen. As demand on public sector organizations continues to sit at all-time highs, here are three areas public sector leaders need to prioritize immediately to compete for talent in the future of work. For a deeper dive on this, join Ceridian and Government Technology on September 17 to learn more about best practices for providing world-class employee experiences in the cloud.

Optimize the workforce through technology

Much has been said about the lack of technological innovation within public sector workforces globally. The focus is often on how this impacts the attraction and retention of next gen talent – which the private sector has mastered while the public sector has floundered. However, lagging technology investment is catching up with organizations in the form of workforce inefficiency at a time when demand for government services has never been higher. In today’s world, citizens expect to interact with their governments in similar ways to how they interact with the private sector – on demand. Meeting this expectation is of primary concern for governments, and improving internal processes and streamlining operations are critical enablers to help governments achieve this objective by freeing up resources away from no strategic work, to more external facing, higher valued activities.

Single source platforms that enable public sector leaders to leverage data to make informed decisions about workforce planning and management is the ideal place to start. Automation is also key, as it allows organizations to refocus employees away from repetitive admin tasks and back onto improving service delivery for citizens. Finally, technology can play a role in helping public sector agencies manage compliance to better safeguard data and minimize risk – an issue that will only become more acute as the future rushes in.

Modernize hiring, onboarding, and next-gen talent ecosystems

In the next five years, over half of the U.S. federal workforce may qualify for retirement, and 70% of its senior managers will reach retirement age. At the same time, widespread digital transformation means a greater need for technology skills, an area where the public sector is famously lacking. According to a Deloitte survey of over 1,200 government officials in over 70 countries, 81% said their digital capabilities are behind the U.S. private sector.

Meanwhile, Ceridian’s 2021 Pulse of Talent survey found almost seven in 10 (67%) of the workforce is open to new opportunities, and were either actively looking for a new job (37%), or open to a new role if approached (30%). When we asked the group that is considering a move for their reasons why, the top two responses were that they like to take on new challenges every few years, or don’t see the right career opportunities at their current company. Furthermore, one-third of respondents overall said they would make a lateral move or accept less pay if it was a growth opportunity. Younger workers are more likely to make this move, potentially signaling an opportunity to build loyalty with this demographic earlier in their careers.

For the public sector, this represents a clear opportunity to replenish the ranks by capitalizing on this growing appetite for growth and challenge. But to do it right, the public sector will need to rethink its approach managing and distributing its workforce. Embracing the tenets of the gig economy is one way to build a dynamic talent ecosystem that aligns to what talent wants and expects in a job. It also allows managers to match internal skills to priority projects, deepening engagement while providing employees broader opportunities and experiences within the walls of one organization. This concept isn’t new – in fact Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report found 76% of C-suite leaders rated it as important, but only six percent believe they’re excellent at enabling internal mobility. As we move forward into the future, the public sector should consider leveraging this approach as a means to create lasting workforce efficiencies, improve engagement and retention, and reduce recruiting costs.

Failure to Engage will be felt in the form of attrition

Over the course of the pandemic, working from home became the norm for many, and meant juggling the demands of their work and personal lives in real time, sometimes live and on camera for all their colleagues to see. As the world opens up and the collective strain of this experience is felt in earnest, many will begin to reflect and evaluate their priorities and whether the traditional way of working is worth it. Ultimately, the reverberations will be felt by employers in the form of attrition.

The cost of attrition is high. It hits organizations hard, not only because it costs time and money to hire someone new, but also because of the hidden costs associated with burnout, overtime, and absenteeism. Technology is once again key to building the right engagement and retention strategies for the public sector workforce. Engagement starts on the first day with a well-planned and executed digital onboarding experience. The framework for retention is built through learning platforms that allow employees more control over skill-building and career pathing, while succession planning tools help agencies identify and develop the next generation of leaders.

If public sector organizations want to level the playing field with private sector employers of choice, they will need to reinvent their processes to better attract top talent. This starts with convincing candidates that today’s public sector can offer them opportunities for learning, career growth, and impact – all from within a modern, tech-enabled workplace.

Gianluca Cairo is Industry Principal, Public Sector at Ceridian, a global human capital management (HCM) software company. 
Ceridian HCM Holding Inc. is a global human capital management software company. Dayforce, our flagship cloud HCM platform, provides human resources, payroll, benefits, workforce management, and talent management functionality.