Pay and workforce reform policy
These pages provide an overview of government policy and strategy on public sector pay and workforce reform.
Key workforce challenges for public services
The Government's public service reform strategy focuses on giving service users the opportunity to shape services in ways that meet their needs. This can only be achieved with the commitment of a highly motivated, flexible, diverse and skilled workforce, capable of providing high quality, personalised public services. Getting the relationship right between employers and employees so that staff are supported and enabled to deliver those services is key. Developing the right workforce policies and new ways of working underpins this relationship.
Strategic workforce planning
Strategic workforce planning is critical to effective reform and delivery of public services - to ensure that front line public service workers (nurses, teachers, police officers, social workers), who are responsible for achieving that reform and delivery, are recruited, well trained and continuously developed, appropriately rewarded and well managed.
Effective strategic workforce planning will encompass the following:
- Strong engagement from top management, to ensure the strategy is closely integrated with business planning and a key driver of future success
- Partnership with trade unions and staff associations to support reform
- Engage workforce in shaping and finalising the strategy
- Based on business's key strategic objectives and underpinned by robust analysis of labour market and demographic trends, economic assumptions and government policy
- Incorporates robust workforce data and analysis
- Identifies future workforce capacity needs and plans to recruit them
- Understands drivers of customer satisfaction and staff motivation and morale, and plans interventions to improve them
- Development of an holistic total reward package
- Plan for talent management and leadership development
- Agree milestones, targets and clear delivery accountabilities, accompanied by a risk management strategy
Recruitment and retention
The public sector workforce is changing. Since 2004, the number of public service employees has grown , in line with increased investment in schools, the NHS and the police. The composition of the workforce has also changed, reflecting rapidly changing demographics, the development of support worker roles to free up professionals to focus on their core tasks, and challenging targets to increase workforce diversity.
In recruiting to meet these challenges, public service employers need to:
- Understand why people want to work in public services and focus on effective job design that recognises the motivations of potential recruits other than pay. Periodic testing of staff motivation and morale can provide helpful indicators of recruitment and retention factors.
- Attract staff with the right skill sets by building a positive, modern image of public services, with strong branding of the service values and ethos.
- Collaborate with other employers to attract and retain staff and avoid “fishing in the same pool”, making the best use of a strong field of candidates and reduce pay escalation which might result from efforts to outbid the competition.
- Retain the skills in the workforce and use individual skill sets effectively. This might involve offering job enrichment, structured career progression and skills development; giving flexibility and choice around working hours to meet staff needs as they move through their careers; recruiting support workers to free up professionals; creating opportunities for sideways moves and secondments to maintain interest.