What do public sector workers want from their employers in 2021?
January 27, 2021

With the UK government leading a concerted recruitment drive in the public sector, employers have plenty of cause for optimism as we make our way into 2021.

However, to attract the best talent, there’s still plenty of work to do for the public sector. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed candidate expectation in Britain. In the current climate; job security; wellbeing and mental health; and the potential for progression are more important than ever to public sector workers. As such, recruitment strategies should focus on addressing these key issues.

Are you about to launch a recruitment campaign? Here’s what public sector workers are looking for from potential employers.

Wellbeing and mental health 

The mental health and wellbeing of employees became a much higher priority for 78% of HR professionals in 2020. Mostly, this is a result of the pandemic. However, with 2021 set to pose many of the same issues, this trend is likely to continue post COVID-19 and could become a permanent focus for employers in the long term.

Frontline public sector employees, many of whom are key workers, have been particularly affected by the pandemic. A recent report revealed that burn-out, anxiety and depression had become common among NHS healthcare workers. Meanwhile, increased levels of anxiety and exhaustion have also been reported among teachers.

Thus, any candidates looking for work in 2021 will want assurances that their wellbeing is a top priority for employers. In response to these reports, all areas of the public sector must develop a robust plan to tackle such issues.

Job security 

With unemployment continuing to rise steadily towards the end of 2020, the public sector saw a bump in interest, as candidates sought job security in an unpredictable market. Even teaching, one of the toughest areas of recruitment in the public sector, saw a 65% increase in applications.

Now, as we enter a period of sustained economic uncertainty, long-term job security is clearly high on the list of priorities for public sector candidates. Additionally, it’s very possible that Britain could enter a recession again in 2021. In those circumstances, the public sector tends to be one of – if not the – most secure areas of employment in the workforce.

While this is good news for public sector employers in terms of recruitment, top talent is likely to favour long term contracts as opposed to temp work. With the pandemic far from over, the job market could remain volatile for the majority of 2021. As such, employers will need to offer concrete assurances of stable work to attract the best candidates.

Career progression 

While it’s difficult to look past the present with much optimism right now, career progression remains a key ‘must-have’ for public sector candidates.

Some areas of the sector, for example nursing and healthcare, have struggled with this in the past. Budget cuts, increasing workloads and stretched services often leave workers without the time and resources to pursue their career options. As a result, job retention can also suffer.

To combat this, it’s up to public sector employers to offer greater support for their workforce. That could mean creating shadowing opportunities, making it easier to study towards further qualifications, and offering the option of sabbatical and secondments.

Giving candidates what they want in 2021

Staffing has long been a major issue for the public sector, and 2021 will see those challenges continue to surface, particularly for higher-skilled, top-tier candidates. And that’s taking into account the government recruitment drive in policing, healthcare and teaching.

Meeting the candidate expectations we’ve laid out here is one way public sector organisations can achieve their recruitment needs this year. For more advice, talk to JGP Resourcing. We’re experts in sourcing top talent for the public sector and non-profit organisations. We understand public sector candidates and we’re here to help you attract the best.

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