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5 Strategies for Employee Retention Within the Public Sector

Public sector organisations are built on the skill, experience and loyalty of their employees. When retention rates are low, they can suffer. According to Legaljobs, around a third of all employees have quit their jobs within six months of starting. Additionally, only 25% feel connected to their organisation’s mission.

The average employee costs around £12,000 to replace. Over time, a low retention rate, can build into a significant drain on delivery and represents an increase in operating costs. The quality of a good retention rate is important, it reduces the costs of replacement and there’s less of an impact on productivity, engagement and culture. 

By implementing strategies for employee retention, public sector organisations can retain the talent that’s delivering better services. There’s more opportunity for knowledge sharing, better training for newer employees and the increased potential for growth and resilience.

Below, we cover five of the top strategies for employee retention.

  1. Use Tech to Your Advantage
  2. Offer Trust and Transparency
  3. Create Education and Progression Opportunities
  4. Provide the Right Benefits
  5. Prepare for Turnover


1. Use Tech to Your Advantage

It’s not just an organisation that changes over time; so too do employees. These changes need to be tracked for HR to get an accurate picture of how employees feel.

Some tools on the market today help you do this. You can even leverage something as simple as SurveyMonkey to send out monthly or quarterly surveys to ascertain mood and discover issues before they become massive problems. 

Similarly, HR technology can help automate the employee experience process, giving them an online space to track their progress, raise any concerns, provide feedback, or share knowledge. 

Cloud-enabled HR technology can bridge the gap between employees and management, meaning employees can feel a little closer and more in control of their current position.

Providing this space aids the independence and autonomy of employees, helping them care more about what they’re doing and where they are, which is of vital importance for the public sector to continue delivering its important work.

2. Offer Trust and Transparency

One of the simplest yet best strategies for ensuring good employee retention rates is to offer trust and transparency. This means working on how open and honest your communication channels are. Ask yourself:

  • Do we have effective communication channels in place?
  • Do these communication channels promote honesty?
  • Do employees feel confident that when they use these channels, they will be heard?
  • Do employees have the ability to share files, links and other types of information?

If you’re answering with ‘no’ to any of these, there’s space to improve. Work to create open-door policies, both online and within the office, but always work with trust and transparency as driving factors in any communications strategy.

3. Create Education and Progression Opportunities

Employees gain satisfaction from knowing they can progress, from clear paths to advancement. This ensures they’re more likely to continue within their position and creates more knowledgeable, robust and more adaptable employees. This also creates the potential for more innovation, which is highly valued within the public sector. 

To capture this, organisations must offer:

  • Promotion opportunities
  • Training and professional development opportunities
  • The creation of new processes that employees can learn and develop

Similarly, you can also leverage the capabilities of technology to upskill your employee base. New software or hardware will improve a specific process and necessitate learning from those using it. This helps employees feel invested in the processes they’re a part of. 

Opportunities for education can’t be an afterthought. It should be a core pillar of your culture but only exists when HR and management provide those opportunities.

The best ways to embody learning within the everyday running of a public sector organisation are:

  • Encourage asking questions
  • Get employees to learn by doing
  • Embed training within employee career development

4. Provide the Right Benefits

A large driving force behind employee retention is satisfaction. Satisfaction is influenced by several factors, such as culture, communication, learning opportunities, workload and internal processes.

It’s also largely influenced by the kind of benefits which are provided to employees. This goes beyond the standard paid sick leave or maternity leave but should include other, more holistic benefits, such as training opportunities or benefit schemes. 

Positive benefits can also come in the form of:

  • Flexible working
  • Education opportunities
  • Remote working opportunities
  • Social outings
  • Help with childcare

The inability to provide benefits may leave the employee questioning what they gain from working for a company, leading to resentment. Work towards giving several in-budget benefits that appeal to employees. 

5. Prepare for Turnover

Finally, every organisation experiences employee turnover, from the new starter to the stalwart. It’s a natural part of any organisation’s experience and crucial to prepare for.

This means having protocols in place for those who can take over key tasks until that person can be replaced. It also means developing a knowledge base for questions that would have usually been answered by the exiting employee.

Essentially, public sector organisations need to create response avenues - for either knowledge sharing or action-taking - that mimic the role and experience of the person leaving. Even if this doesn’t work as well as the employee would have, it will ease the burden until a suitable replacement can be found and limit the impact on those receiving the services of the organisation.

This means that, when someone leaves, the working experience of others isn’t negatively affected by a lack of knowledge. Putting people in stressful situations because knowledge or processes haven’t been handed creates pressure and increases the risk of employees getting fed up. By having turnover protocols in place, the transition between one team format and another can be seamless.

These five strategies for employee retention will show employees they're valued and have space and time to grow within a position. After all, it’s not just about keeping employees on but also about allowing them to develop as both employees and human beings. 

Learn, Grow and Develop Within the Public Sector

The public sector is driven by the good work of countless individuals, who all deserve the opportunity to grow in their positions. This means providing avenues for learning, growth and development. 

To aid in your progress towards a better working environment for your employees and a greater understanding and success for employee retention, download our guide. This guide delves into strategies that will help support, retain and grow a varied and experienced workforce, one that drives innovation and growth within the public sector.

Click the link below to begin your download.