In response to COVID-19, public service organizations had to rapidly change ways of working. This was essential to keep the extraordinary work of government going at an extraordinary time.
As public service 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 realizes the full potential of employees, improves services and delivers maximum value to citizens.
So, what do public service 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 service organizations can earn their people’s trust and unlock their full potential. We call this framework Net Better Off.
The Net Better Off model centers 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 maximized.
Of public service workers strongly believes their employer is responsible for helping them become Net Better Off.
In contrast, only 28% of public sector leadership feels the same way.
By bridging this gap, CHROs and other leaders in public service organizations can build trust based on the fundamentals of what matters most to their people. And as our research demonstrates, leaving employees Net Better Off is not just good for them, but also good for citizens, businesses and communities.
Zoning in on “purpose” in public service
Public services are at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic response. Every day, employees work hard and make 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 organizations are doing. Our research shows that 86% feel their work aligns with the desire to do something meaningful and worthwhile. This sense of purpose differentiates public service from most other industries.
But although purpose is increasing, many feel they still have a lot more to give. Just 43% of public service workers in non-manager positions believe their potential is being fully realized 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. Enable continuous learning
Public service employees who experience this practice are more likely to recommend their employer (93%) compared to those who don’t (28%).
2. Listen to what your people need at the frontlines
Public service employees who experience this practice can adapt more effectively to change (97%) compared to those who do not (31%).
3. Use technology for flexible work arrangements
Public sector employees who experience this practice are more likely to feel fulfilled in their work (76%) compared to those who don’t (19%).
4. Champion workforce wellbeing and equality
Public service employees 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
Public service employees who experience this practice have more positive experiences at their employer (55%) compared to those who don’t (16%).
Unlocking your people’s full potential
For public service agencies, ensuring their people are net better off 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 public services.
This reorientation relies on public service 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 organizations. However, committing to making people Net Better Off 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.