In brief

In brief

  • Accenture recently published groundbreaking research that found organisations can unlock their people’s full potential by meeting six human needs.
  • We call this framework Net Better Off, and its six dimensions are: Emotional & Mental, Relational, Physical, Financial, Purposeful and Employable.
  • For public sector organisations, and their people who have been at the frontline of the pandemic, the Net Better Off concept is highly relevant.
  • We share five practices that will meet your people’s holistic needs – improving employee experience and citizen services.

Building trust to enhance employee potential

In response to COVID-19, civil servants and other public sector employees have had to rapidly change ways of working. This was essential to keep the extraordinary work of government going at an extraordinary time.

As public sector leaders work to keep their people safe, employed and supported through and beyond the pandemic, it’s increasingly clear that trust is the new currency at work. That’s because trust enables leaders to create a culture that realises the full potential of employees, improves services and delivers maximum value to citizens.

So, what do public sector employees want? Our latest research, which surveyed HR decision makers and workers across 10 countries and 15 industries (including the public sector), found that by meeting six fundamental human needs through work, public sector organisations can earn their people’s trust and unlock their full potential. We call this framework Net Better Off.

Leaving your people Net Better Off

The Net Better Off model centres on six key dimensions of employee needs: Emotional & Mental, Relational, Physical, Financial, Purposeful and Employable. We found that when these needs are met, trust is built and potential maximised.


Of public sector workers globally strongly believe their employer is responsible for helping meet their full spectrum of needs.


In stark contrast, only 28% of public sector leadership globally feel the same way.

By bridging this gap, CHROs and other leaders in the public sector can build trust based on the fundamentals of what matters most to their people. And as our research demonstrates, meeting employees needs holistically is not just good for them, but also good for citizens, businesses and communities.

Zoning in on "purpose" in public service

Public sector workers are at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic response. Every day, they have worked hard and made sacrifices for the greater good. While those who work in the public sector have always been driven by purpose and mission, many feel a renewed sense of this and are proud of the work that they, their colleagues and their employers are doing. Our research shows that 86% of those in the UK feel their work aligns with the desire to do something meaningful and worthwhile. This sense of purpose differentiates the public sector from most other industries.

But although purpose is increasing, many feel they still have a lot more to give. Just 49% of UK public sector workers in non-manager positions believe their potential is being fully realised at work. That’s where the Net Better Off model comes in – a new way to meet the needs of your employees and unleash their full potential.

1. Create inclusivity by listening to people’s need

Public sector employees globally who experience this practice can adapt more effectively to change (97%) compared to those who do not (31%).

2. Use technology to enable streamlined working

Public sector employees globally who experience this practice are more likely to feel fulfilled in their work (76%) compared to those who don’t (19%).

3. Enable future-focused learning

Public sector employees globally who experience this practice are more likely to recommend their employer (93%) compared to those who don’t (28%).

4. Champion workforce wellbeing and equality

Public sector employees globally who experience this practice put significantly more effort into their work (89%) compared to those who don’t (37%).

5. Set and share people metrics

Global public sector employees experiencing this practice rate their employer more positively (55%) compared to those who don’t (16%).

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Unlocking your people’s full potential

For public sector employers, ensuring their people’s needs are met is more critical now than ever – to support employees today when they need it most and to strengthen their trust in the employer-employee relationship to reap benefits tomorrow. The Net Better Off model enables individuals to work at their full potential. And it allows them to feel a stronger sense of purpose, a calling that – now more than ever – inspires many people to join and stay in the public sector.

This reorientation relies on public sector leaders who can pinpoint and solve the problems that matter to their people in innovative, tech-forward ways and reshape how work is done in their organisations. However, committing to meeting the full spectrum of people’s needs requires more than imaginative practices and policies. It means putting care and compassion at the heart of the work experience and building trust through transparency.

People’s potential can and will change when they are sufficiently supported. And that means deeper trust, a more fulfilled and motivated workforce, and ultimately, better services for citizens.

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