Another National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE) Annual Meeting in the books.  It’s one of the rare conferences where Government Leaders and Private Sector Partners sit together and collaborate on issues facing state government.  I have been fortunate to serve as a co-chair of the NASPE Corporate Council for the past two years giving me an opportunity to talk to the state members about some of their most pressing issues.  

While the conference had a plethora of information on topics such as Pay Equity, Data Analytics, and Employee Healthcare Innovation – the top concern for States across the country continues to be recruiting and retention.  The job market is good, but for state government employers that doesn’t translate well.  There is fierce competition between private and public, but also some competition among other governments as well.  Top talent is hard to find and keep.  The good news?  Many states are finding ways to address these tough issues.

State of Arizona One-on-One Coaching for Continuous Improvement (1:1 Coaching)

The State of Arizona deployed a 1:1 Coaching model statewide in January 2018 to “instill a culture of continuous improvement”.  Problem solving and standard leadership behaviors were identified as two areas that lacked a standardized approach from the Arizona Management System (AMS).  Employees are being empowered to first approach problems on their own and apply solutions that they learned as a result of these coaching sessions.  Opportunities for improvement arise by digging into the root cause of problems. The results were positive including the ability to fairly and objectively appraise employee performance, better preparation for employee appraisals, and improved trust between managers and employees.  

Though this program clearly benefits managers by increasing the time they have to focus on more strategic areas of their job, it also has a benefit to employees.  When employers invest in their employees with programs like 1:1 coaching, it has a big effect on engagement.  In a whitepaper on the Workforce of the Future written by Center for State & Local Government Excellence (SLGE), research shows “79 percent of respondents selected employee engagement as a top workforce issue for their organizations. Yet in a national poll conducted by the Institute for Public Sector Employee Engagement, respondents indicated that state and local government employee engagement is low and lags that of private sector employees.”  Sometimes it’s the little things that make an employee’s experience more positive.  

Commonwealth of Kentucky “Connecting People to Purpose”

In an effort to attract new talent to the Commonwealth, the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet created a marketing plan to show current and future applicants just how rewarding public service work can be.   Videos featuring long-time employees describing that sense of purpose they feel by doing meaningful work are creating positive branding.  The Commonwealth is hoping to attract similar candidates; particularly those “who find satisfaction through positively helping and impacting others”.  Connecting People to Purpose is just one of several projects that Kentucky has launched to attract new talent and contribute to their inspiration of becoming an “employer of choice”.   

Recruiting strategies like this are critical to competing in the talent war.  As stated in a previous blog post, Modernization Strategies to Attract and Keep Talent, “governments are adopting modern policies like telecommuting, additional paid leave (some are adding parental leave), and flexible work schedules/hours to name a few”.  But don’t stop there.  To truly differentiate in a competitive job market, governments need to appeal to those who care about people and community first.

Even though the NASPE Annual Meeting is behind us, the knowledge gained, and best practices shared will inspire state leaders to look for ways to incorporate change and innovation in their own organization.  Recruiting and retention may remain top issues, but governments are getting smarter with ways to put public service in the forefront of job candidates’ minds.

Published: Friday, August 9, 2019