Workforce Management in the Public Sector

cubicle.jpgWorkforce management is a complicated aspect of any company, but there are some notable differences between the public and private sectors. This is in large part because the public sector tends to have a much better employee retention rate. This means that tracking benefits and reviews is far more critical than things like constant hiring and training required in the private sector where high turnover means focusing on bringing people onboard.

When managing the workforce in the public sector, there are a number of things to monitor.

Long-Term Benefits  

Unlike the private sector, the public sector still has a relatively healthy long-term benefits package. While pensions are pretty much a thing of the past for private employees, there are a large number of public sector employees who still have pensions, which are far more comprehensive than things like 401ks. The public sector must track and manage these for the aging workforce and be able to answer questions, particularly as an aging workforce prepares to retire.

The public sector is also known for having a much better health care package. Often public sector management includes managing health care, vision, and dental insurance. The wait times until the employee can access these benefits also tend to be reduced compared to the private sector. Public employees also tend to get better plans for time off of work; they may get three types of leave – vacation, sick, and holiday. All three are tracked independent instead of as a single pool of time off.

Managing an Aging Workforce

As a whole, the public sector has a much older workforce. This is largely because public sector employees tend to spend their entire career working for the government. Where the private sector sees high turnover and people constantly moving on to better opportunities, those who work for the public sector prefer stability. This means that there are a greater number of older employees, many of whom are reaching retirement age.

In addition to benefits, the organization or agency has to know approximately how many people will be retiring over periods of time to plan accordingly.

Reaching New Talent

The public sector is viewed as being stable but boring. This can make it particularly challenging for HR because they are competing for younger talent against the private sector, which already has recruitment down to a science. Trying to bring in younger talent can be particularly challenging if your organization or agency is viewed as boring. However, an increasing number of young people are looking for stability and a steady paycheck, particularly as the private sector requires more experience and education for less pay.

Another problem is the preconceived notion that the private sector offers more flexibility. Though this has been true in the past, a growing number of public sector positions now have similar flexibility to attract new employees.


Dealing with regulations and compliance is a particularly interesting challenge in the public sector because of the interesting mix of employees. Tracking things like time and attendance is far more challenging when you are simultaneously managing retirement and hiring, both on a large scale. Tracking time and attendance can be a particularly interesting challenge when trying to accommodate employees with substantial amounts of time off they are trying to use before retirement and employees who are working remotely.  The right kind of software can address all of these issues and automate the process so that all regulations are followed.