Competing against the private sector for talent has always been an uphill challenge for the public sector. But in today’s post-pandemic economy, with accelerating retirement rates and a shortage of applicants, the challenge has become increasingly tougher. On top of all of that, employers have to factor in how to attract a younger workforce whose priorities include wanting to be embraced by the culture of their place of work and knowing that their employer cares about them.

In today’s environment, employees seek out employment opportunities that they believe better fit their needs and wants, rather than remain in a position for its job security. The private sector has the advantage of being able to offer higher wages and a more flexible work schedule, both of which are difficult for the public sector to provide.

So how can the public sector become more competitive?

Recruiting more Millennials will be an important step for the public sector. Millennials are looking for meaning behind their professions. A Deloitte study showed that 9 of 10 Millennials believe that a company’s success should be measured by more than just their net profit. Millennials love companies that do good or give back to their communities and to the world as a whole.The public sector has a real advantage here, as it can provide an opportunity for employees to serve, make a difference and feel as though they are actually doing something.

Benefits are a definitive way the public sector can demonstrate its commitment to employees. They are also a tool that associations can use for their members. A 2020 Public Sector Financial Wellness Programs survey on employee needs and preferences provided insight into their financial situation and stress. Most respondents (88%) said they worry about their finances/financial decisions, and two-thirds (66%) said they are doing so at work. Worrying about their financial situation at work cuts down on their productivity.

One way to help alleviate these financial concerns is by providing employer-based financial literacy and education programs. In the study, two-thirds (68%) of public sector employees said they would be likely to participate in financial literacy/education programs offered by their employer, but only 29% said they are being offered by their employer.

Another way to help employees with their financial well-being is through voluntary benefits which have become more mainstream in recent years because they play an important role in enhancing benefits packages to satisfy employees’ needs. These can include financial counseling, bill payment programs, medical deductible financing, low interest installment loans, employee purchase programs, student loan repayment benefit programs and automatic savings programs.

Purchasing Power’s employee purchase program supports HR objectives by providing a no cost, no liability benefit that gives employees a manageable, convenient way to access products and services that often are out of reach and pay for them through a convenient payroll deduction method.

Likewise, public sector associations are finding that attracting and retaining members often depends on their member benefit package. With Purchasing Power, associations can enhance their membership package, increase member satisfaction and add to their non-dues revenue.