According to the 2018 Mercer Global Talent Trends Study, 39 per cent of employees would leave their current job if their organization’s corporate culture was toxic or impeded career progression. Canadians are three times more likely to seek another job that embeds a stronger sense of empowerment.
Today’s workforce is evolving from individuals looking for job security to those seeking job passion. Organizations that fall short in promoting work-life balance, flexibility, or virtual work arrangements risk losing highly-motivated and talented individuals who are willing to give 110 per cent.
In the public service, geographical location is also a barrier. Public institutions are missing opportunities to recruit and retain indispensable expert knowledge. Networking is an invaluable tool in finding subject-matter experts to help advance public service initiatives. However, in situations where physical location is the deciding factor in selecting candidates, the ability to meet the institution’s mandate at the desired performance level may be compromised.
By contrast, private companies are doing more borderless recruitment. LinkedIn, for example, has become a staple for finding talent. Recruitment agencies are becoming obsolete, as organizations use them less to staff jobs.
Staffing and retention are often more challenging in the public sector. Public servants are encouraged to broaden their horizons through training, job shadowing, and work assignments. Public institutions ought to shape corporate culture to attract new staff and returning alumni. Like Google, the public service should want to recruit individuals who dream of working for organizations that offer job flexibility and staff empowerment rather than simply good employee benefits.
At times, public institutions may lose sight of their corporate culture due to constant environmental changes. Five interconnected strategies can help attract and retain talent more effectively:
- Learn and improve from assessments. It is time to take a hard look in the mirror if teams experience high staff turnover rates within the past four to six months. Internal audits and enterprise risk management enable leaders to promptly identify gaps, apply risk methodologies, and develop action plans that minimize toxicity in corporate culture. Addressing the anti-oversight culture opens organizations to new opportunities.
- Leverage virtual work arrangements. The quality of work produced is due to staff members’ intellectuality, not their physical presence. Leaders can stabilize retention rates by offering staff the flexibility of working from home, in satellite offices, or via teleworking.
- Harness technological solutions. Equipping staff with smartphones, laptops, and other digital devices can increase productivity levels significantly. Tech-savvy Millennials want to collaborate closely with colleagues, complete tasks on time, and stay connected with the organization.
- Invest in human potential. Young professionals steer clear of organizations that constrain them with strict rules and repetitive tasks. They want to try different tasks at various degrees of difficulty. They grow unexpectedly by unlocking soft skills like versatility, creativity, critical thinking, and leadership.
- Empower public servants. Caring about staff well-being, acknowledging hard work, sharing recognition, and keeping everyone in the loop on high-level decisions all strengthen corporate culture. Trusted employees tend to value their purpose and remain loyal.
The nature, scope, and quality of corporate culture influence whether individuals decide to stay or leave their job. Institutionalizing change in corporate culture is a daunting undertaking. Leaders ought to recognize the transformative challenges and commit to consolidating incremental changes over time.
Why is it so important for public managers to get this right? Institutional reputation is framed by corporate culture. Few want to stick around long enough to fix or maintain a dysfunctional culture. And they get around to it later rather than sooner. A culture that is working as intended is indeed rare. It presents a singular opportunity to continue to enhance and embed desirable outcomes.
Salary is not the main concern in today’s workforce. It is the wellness of organizations to sustain employment and productivity that matters most. The public service is no exception when it comes to developing the capacity to satisfy the public interest.