Analysis highlights six workforce trends impacting local governments in 2023

February 13, 2023

****Source- American City & County, Andy Castillo, First Published Jan 3, 2023

As a new year begins, public employers face ongoing challenges like the continued transition to a digital environment and workforce shortages that have plagued organizations since the pandemic’s onset. In confronting staffing issues, the MissionSquare Research Institute recently published a brief highlighting key strategies local administrators can consider implementing to make themselves more competitive.

Following an at-times difficult year, “public service leaders have gained important insights on approaches to workforce management and support while attracting new talent,” reads the analysis, “Six Workforce Trends to Watch in 2023.”

The six recommendations are: communicate the full value of benefits; customize recruitment appeals; maintain retirement plan funding; restructure the workforce; take a holistic view; and prioritize data-driven decision making.

The first is notable, given that “The wages advertised for a position represent only a small portion of the full value of a job’s financial and other benefits,” the report says. “Public service jobs often include more than ‘traditional’ benefits like health insurance, pensions, and deferred compensation.”

Those nontraditional benefits can include paid leave, life insurance, student loan relief, flexible scheduling, job stability and housing assistance.

Focusing on diversity and inclusion is another important aspect to consider. Forming long term partnerships with colleges, school districts, job training programs, neighborhood or civic programs, private groups and local community organizations can help local governments reach a new audience.

Recruitment strategies “could also include outreach that communicates in ways that best resonate with audiences, like trading bureaucratic descriptions for mission-focused appeals and plain text. Employers may also benefit by tailoring campaigns to appeal to candidates with different benefit focuses depending on their life stages or economic circumstances,” the brief says.

Given the impact of the pandemic and the ‘great resignation,’ restructuring workforce norms and reconsidering roles might be called beneficial. In addition to the pandemic and hiring shortages, anticipated restructuring in public workplaces is “also tied to evolving technologies touching every field from customer service to accounting to transportation,” the brief says. “And while automation may not fully replace certain jobs, it is certain to contribute to job restructurings, the need to update job descriptions, and the consideration of part-time or temporary staffing models.”

In these efforts, prioritizing the mental health of workers and relying on data to make decisions can go a long way in making public organizations desirable places to work.

“As persistent inflation leads to consideration of compensation changes, it will no longer be enough to point to cost-of-living adjustments and end the conversation with employees there. Rather, employers should lean into difficult conversations with team members about their financial stress, workload, health, or childcare issues,” the brief says. “Employees also can engage with employers to learn what aspects of their jobs are rewarding, career goals, and how employers can provide professional growth opportunities.”

For more information and to read the complete brief, visit MisionSquare Research Institute’s website.

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