Cornerstone research recently investigated what people look for – and more importantly, prioritise – when considering a career in the civil service. Here are some of the findings


The project included a number of issues from coaching and pensions to opportunities for mobility. Surprisingly, job security emerged as the most important factor for over 88% of the sample, followed closely by the pension scheme (80%).

However, it is important not to stop at this; 81% of the study mentioned that career development opportunities were very important to them when considering joining, and 70% were motivated by the training schemes. Learning and development is clearly seen as very important to new joiners, but there is one other statistic to consider.

According to the data, 69% of staff are motivated to join the civil service because they want to be part of an organisation which provides a public service.

Taken as a whole, this presents a picture which is far from simple – civil servants are attracted by security and stability, but also value their personal progression and have a philanthropic element to their professional lives.

At first this may seem strange, but the economy has been volatile in the past decade. This has been coupled with social progressiveness and an improved appreciation of factors such as equality in the workplace. Whilst new staff understand the need to be secure in their jobs and in the future – as evidenced by valuing job security and a solid pension scheme – they also wish to develop themselves and help society.

Public sector workers are often undervalued as risk-averse and lacking innovation. These statistics challenge this view and present a far more complex view of worker motivations.

They also provide significant food for thought for HR practitioners: when staff have such a complex motivational matrix, how should they present the company to new candidates? Furthermore, what does this mean for the benefits structure and development programmes? It is only by considering such questions and addressing this complexity that HR staff in the civil service can continue to attract – and retain – the best staff to drive their departments forward during 2015. 

To read the full report, click here. 

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