No, no, not with a fire-heated iron rod or anything. What I’m talking about is this story that appeared on the front page of yesterday’s Ottawa Citizen:
Canada’s public service must recover its lost image as a “place to make a difference” in a fiercely competitive war for executives in which meaningful work can still trump big salaries and bonuses, says the head of a federal advisory committee on executive compensation.
Carol Stephenson, who is also the dean of the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, said it’s time the public service returned to the days of marketing itself as a calling. She said the public service does a poor job of recruiting at colleges and universities and marketing itself as the country’s only employer that offers such diverse careers and interesting work.
Drilling down, I spotted this:
But Ms. Stephenson said the government has to focus on managing its people and offering what she calls a “total value proposition” because pay and generous benefits alone won’t keep and attract people.
She said many companies have shifted from “branding” their companies to branding their people, which means paying more attention to things that make people stay — personal growth, new opportunities, making a difference, rewards, recognition and stable work.
The concept of branding the people rather than the organization is totally foreign to the federal public service. Where I work, the concept of branding in general is pretty much outside the box, at least at the administrative (as opposed to political) level — i.e. the departments and agencies actually delivering programs and services. So we’re talking about a huge challenge to implement.
Strikes me though that an engagement with social media could be a big help in this regard — online communications using real, individual voices, as opposed to disembodied, distant org-speak, could go a long way to changing perceptions of who public servants are and what they are all about. In terms of attracting and retaining talent, my bet would be that the kind of authenticity that can be achieved via online communities would be a huge bonus. Big risks involved in moving into that space (both real and perceived!), and PS participants would need signposts and touchstones to help guide us on our way, but the reward could be great.