The "Great Resignation" inspired many Americans to actively seek new roles as they grew weary of their previous employer, sought better benefits or a higher salary. The exodus of local government workers at the height of the pandemic left many localities struggling to make progress at a time of unprecedented need for the leadership of municipalities and counties.
Since it is impossible with limited budgets to match private-sector salaries in most instances, local governments must be creative in order to attract new, younger talent to public sector work. In order to attract and onboard a new generation to your municipality or county government, your community will need to offer top-of-the-line benefits packages as well as other desirable perks for government workers via a healthy, fun, and productive work culture.
Here’s everything you need to know about finding, hiring, and retaining qualified government workers in your community.
What Are the Challenges in Recruiting Government Workers?
With the private sector offering major perks that local governments simply cannot compete with, the majority of people seeking job opportunities are looking for businesses rather than governments.
Some of the things that are turn-offs about local government jobs for many applicants include:
- Lower salaries than private-sector businesses can afford to offer for high-quality talent
- (In many cases) worse benefits than large corporations
- A reputation for public sector life being “boring”
- the perception that the majority of time is being spent on manual administrative work
- Reliance on old, obsolete tech and processes (paper, fax, non-cyber secure on-site servers, etc)
- Slow-moving workflows that make governments projects take substantially longer than private-sector ones
- A need to live close by and work in-person
Learn more about the challenges of local government recruitment and how to overcome them in the guide to Local Government Recruitment.
What Makes Government Workers Leave?
The challenges listed above make it easy for private sector businesses to poach government workers, leaving critical government positions wide open.
Oftentimes, the slow-moving bureaucracy is the challenge that makes retaining government workers difficult. For many of the people that join local governments as employees, the goal isn’t necessarily to make a lot of money, but to make a positive impact on their community. If they find that inefficiency is making it impossible to bring change, they’ll go somewhere that they will feel like they’re making a difference.
Here’s a helpful resource for keeping your workers around: Local Government Employee Retention guide.
How Can Benefits Help Local Governments in Recruiting?
If you ask anyone that’s been in local government long-term, “What made you stick around?” more often than not, the answer is their pension.
Benefits like pensions and health insurance wield the potential for your local government to get jobs filled by highly-qualified and motivated employees and keep them around.
What Types of Benefits Should Your Local Government Consider Offering?
The private sector notably tends to offer better benefits and starting salaries than the public sector. To compete, consider the following benefits to entice qualified talent to work for your local government:
1. High-Quality Health Insurance
According to SHRM, physical health coverage is deemed the most important employer benefit to almost all employees, regardless of demographics. “88 percent of job seekers give ‘some consideration’ or ‘heavy consideration’ to better health, dental and vision insurance benefits when choosing between a high-paying job and a lower-paying job.”
While you can’t compete with the private-sector when it comes to salaries, you can offer top notch health insurance as a means to entice applicants to accept a position.
With local government health insurance packages designed to be flexible and built around your community’s budget, you can build high-quality plans for workers with what you can afford.
2. Mental Health Insurance
The period of intense lockdowns shined a spotlight on the mental health crisis in America. While current health insurance structures tend to cover physical health, your local government can be a trend-setter by offering top notch mental health resources for government workers.
3. Paid Time Off
If your local government has taken action to automate tasks to cut down the number of man hours needed per task, pass the benefits on to government workers by increasing the amount of PTO for employees each year.
Also consider offering compensatory time as a means to entice government workers to pick up more hours. As explained by the Department of Labor, “Under certain prescribed conditions, employees of State or local government agencies may receive compensatory time off, at a rate of not less than one and one-half hours for each overtime hour worked, instead of cash overtime pay.”
4. Parental Leave
Out of 41 countries featured in a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States was the only one without mandated paid leave for parents. Your local government has a real opportunity to stand out among hiring organizations by offering progressive maternal and paternal leave for government officials in your area.
5. Hybrid Work Opportunities
Most government officials continue to work in person in the standard 9 to 5 work structure. While that approach previously may have been fine for most, it’s certainly not the case post-COVID. Despite only 6% of people working fully remote prior to the pandemic, over 66% of American workers recently reported working remotely at least on occasion (and 16% of businesses reported being fully remote.)
That means a huge percentage of the American population prefers to work either fully remote or in a hybrid work structure. If your municipality is willing to adopt digital government infrastructure, you can entice workers to come onboard by letting them work from home at least several days a week.
Learn more about the perks in offering Hybrid Government Jobs and how to make the structure work in our resourceful guide.
6. Student Loan Forgiveness
There is currently $1.7 trillion worth of student debt in the U.S. alone. Fortunately, as explained by studentaid.gov, “If you are employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government… you might be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.”
In many instances, your local government employees can get a large portion of their debt erased simply by working for your municipality or county for an extended period of time. This should be a crucial selling point of working in your neighborhood, as the average borrower has between $25,000 and $50,000 worth of student debt.
What Perks Can You Offer to Employees Considering Working at Your Local Government Long-Term?
Besides a great pension or health benefits package, there are other non-compensatory pluses your government can offer to entice new employees to onboard and stick around. In most instances, it comes down to your local government work culture.
Here are some of the ways your work culture can inspire employees to join and work in your community:
1. Digital Infrastructure and Automated Workflows:
If a person is looking to work in local government to make a difference in your community, they’re going to get bored of administrative tasks pretty quickly. Younger staffers are digital natives who will expect to conduct their work in a modern digital environment - not on paper.
Government software applications will automate tasks for you across departments, saving government officials time that can be spent working towards solving big problems in your neighborhood. This automation can free up staff to work on higher level initiatives or even to transfer to other departments where there is a greater need.
2. Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
The key to solving problems in a way that will make your various types of constituents happy is to include people of various backgrounds across departments in your local government.
In selecting applicants for job roles in your municipal or county government, give consideration to hiring people of various genders, races, socio-economic backgrounds, etc. to make sure every employee feels a sense of belonging and to get various perspectives on how a decision from your government will impact everyone.
3. Internal Growth
People are willing to sacrifice a higher salary to start if there’s genuine potential for them to move up the ranks internally. If you truly mean it, highlight the room for growth in your local government to potential prospects and let them know, if they work hard, they’ll be able to move up the ranks!
Not only will this persuade more people to join your team, but will simultaneously appeal to people that truly want to work hard and make a difference.
4. Empathetic, Transparent, Honest Boss(es)
For employees that genuinely want to grow within their role and organization, honest feedback from leadership is crucial. Take the time to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of employees within your purview, and offer constructive feedback on the ways they can improve their skill set for better performance and a chance to rise up the ranks.
Public Sector Benefits - In Conclusion
Clearly, benefits for municipal and county jobs are a must for filling job roles and getting workers to stick around long-term. Consider upgrading your health insurance packages, introducing more flexibility in your work structure, PTO, family leave, and automation of mindless tasks as ways to entice employees and keep them happy in their work environment.
The costs of government benefits will pay for themselves tenfold if you recruit and retain excellent public sector workers. To learn more about how GovPilot’s government management software can help, book a free demo.
Government Job Benefits FAQs
1. What Types of Benefits Matter Most to Applicants?
Employees across the board consider health benefits to be the most important benefit a job can offer. Consider physical health, mental health, disability, dental, and vision insurance as a means to lure qualified employees in, even if you can’t compete with businesses when it comes to salary.
2. Can Government Workers Work Remotely?
A great deal of Americans want the option to work from home at least a few days a week. By adopting cloud-based government software, your local government can provide workers with work laptops that will allow them to get work done from home.
- How Does the Public Sector Compete with Private Sector Jobs by CPSHR
- The Great Resignation Impact on Local Government by Rock Institute
- Disability Benefits by Benefits.com