Culture Matters for Employee Retention in Government Human Resources

Written by Jessica Marabella

Why employer culture is more important than salary to recruitment and retention.
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Every employer, both in the private and public sector, want to keep their employees happy. Happy employees mean tenured employees, but what are the best ways to motivate employee job satisfaction? For local governments, simply increasing wages isn’t always an option, due to union contracts and limited budgets, so what’s left?

It is true that salary is important to employees, but researchers have found that money isn’t a true indicator of employee satisfaction. Employer culture is more important than the numbers on a paycheck, and employees often agree that they want a positive, uplifting work environment.

Satisfied Employees Result in Bigger Company Successes

Retention is a foundation to building a strong and capable team, and once the team is in place then there are many opportunities for a municipality to soar to higher levels of success. When employees are treated well and are working in an environment that helps them thrive, then productivity increases and a local government can meet their community goals.

Focusing on fostering and improving the culture of your municipal administration is an impactful way to invest in your team, because happy employees will reach for higher levels of success in their employment. When employees are dissatisfied with their work, they may get stuck in the rut of “punching the clock” and just passing time to get through the day. Happy employees, however, are more willing to go the extra mile and find ways to improve their performance, which in turn, benefits their community.

Talent Shortage: Why Company Culture Matters

There is a shortage of high quality talent in many sectors, including local government. High-performing employees often have many options available, which means if they aren’t satisfied in their current position, they may go elsewhere. By focusing on company culture, you can increase employee satisfaction which in turn increases the likelihood that your employees will stay with your administration.

Studying the trends within top-ranked organizations uncovers interesting information: these employers recognize that culture is a foundational aspect of talent retention. Instead of focusing only on retention, the efforts are put into company culture, which has a natural impact on retention.

Civic Tip: To analyze the effectiveness of your overarching human resource efforts, click here to learn the 5 key metrics in local government human resources that you should be monitoring.

Learn more about the CivicHR Talent Management solution from CivicPlus

Boosting Productivity and Municipal Success

If you want to improve the overall productivity of your team, then you need to take a look at daily operations and how these daily habits impact company culture. Here are a few factors to consider as you are assessing the success of your local government administration:

  • Share Your Mission and Vision: Get clear about the vision and mission for your community, and communicate this message to your employees. Create both short-term and long-term goals that everyone can work toward. These targets will unite teams and help staff to work together to reach higher levels of success. Explain the strategy and reasoning along the way to help people see why they should join in the efforts, and how their individual efforts contribute to the overall success of the organization.
  • Strengthen Work-Life Balance: When employees have a good balance between their work and home life, then it’s likely their work productivity will increase. Being able to spend time at home improves overall happiness and satisfaction, which spills over into job satisfaction. Wherever possible based on union contracts, ensure you are offering paid vacation and flex hours so that employees can manage their commitments at home and spend time with their families.
  • Offer Employee Development: When employees stall out in their progress, it’s likely they will go searching for other opportunities that will give them the growth opportunities they seek People are happier when they are learning and growing, which is why trainings and development programs should be a priority in your local government. Offer cross-training, mentoring, networking opportunities, career coaching, and any online or in-person classes that will help each individual develop stronger skills for his current position, and his long-term career goals.
  • Encourage Employee Health: If employees are sick, then they are going to be miserable and unhappy at work. One of the biggest problems for employee satisfaction and productivity is when an employee is in poor health. Offer a good health insurance plan, and put programs in place that encourage employees to focus on their health. Other examples of on-site benefits for health include a fitness center, medical services, healthy snacks, regular health screenings, and discounts for your community parks and rec programs.
  • Build a Stronger Team: When people have friends at work, then their job satisfaction improves. Encourage teams to work together and play together. Offer opportunities for staff members to enjoy social activities together, such as picnics, parties, games, and other social activities that are available during work hours and after hours. These activities will give people the chance to spend time together outside of the formal work environment, so they can get to know each other and build stronger friendships.

Small Changes Can Add Up to Big Results

Don’t feel overwhelmed with the idea that you need to completely transform company culture overnight, because it takes time to shape the right culture that you are striving to achieve. Start by making smaller changes, and continue to make additional changes over time to create the perfect office environment for a thriving team.

These efforts will pay off, because you will see that employees are happier and more productive. At the same time, a positive community and municipal culture will have a direct impact on retention, and it will become much easier to retain your high-performing talent.

Remember that satisfied employees start on day one with proper onboarding. Click below to download our free local government employee onboarding checklist.

Effective Onboarding Leads to Job Satisfaction and Better Retention 30-day Checklist and eBook