How can you retain civil servants in 2015?
Retention can be a massive challenge for some sectors and organisations, with high levels of staff turnover being costly and affecting productivity and morale. According to research by Oxford Economics, staff turnover costs the British economy at least £4.13bn every year as new employees take up to eight months to reach optimum productivity levels.
However, the civil service is fairly unique in this situation. Whilst many may think that people are attracted and remain with the sector for its benefits, such as pension schemes and generous holiday entitlement, the reality is very different.
Following research by Cornerstone, over 80% of civil servants surveyed said career development opportunities were either important or very important in their decision to join the sector, highlighting that people join because they want to grow and develop, and use those skills to support others. This is supported by 69% saying that being part of an organisations that provides a public service was an important factor in their decision to join the sector.
The civil service has a workforce that is highly motivated and committed to making a difference to the UK’s wider society. It sends a clear message to HR professionals in the sector, suggesting that in the past they may have gone about recruitment and retention in the wrong way by focusing on monetary benefits the sector has to offer. In reality, the research shows that being part of an organisation that provides a public service is an important factor in retaining senior staff, therefore highlighting the need for a strong employer brand that reflects this core value.
Internal mobility is also important in retaining talent in the civil service going forward, particularly in the under 35s. Whilst encouraging people to move around the sector, either via secondment or a new position, may be met with some resistance by managers, it’s important to remember the benefits in terms of retaining knowledge and skills in the sector. For internal mobility to be successful, it needs a joined-up approach that unites recruitment, career and succession, performance and learning and development processes.
In 2015, the civil service has the opportunity to really build on the commitment of its people to retain them. Continuing to invest in training and development (57%), and setting clear career paths (59%) will be important, but ensuring people feel that they are part of an organisations that provides a great public service and gives them the opportunity to try news roles, will be vital.
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