Facing the 21st century challenge in the public sector

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The public sector of the 21st century needs to be significantly different to that of the 20th century. We are all too aware that there is a critical and urgent need for public sector innovation but the old adage of doing more with less will no longer hold up for the future. Organisations have ‘leaned’ themselves down to their core efficiencies where ever they can and yet the need to achieve great results and deal with ever increasing complexity continues to scale at a pace many of us can no longer sustain.

To be successful will require new thinking and new ways of working. It will involve meeting the changing needs of customers and the wider community, which emphasise more choice and tailored services. At the same time, fulfilling the expectations of government for performance and efficiency will require new approaches to organisations, to services, to service delivery and to customer engagement.

The Challenges Ahead

Dealing with austerity is only part of the story. An engaged sector, realising the talents, creativity and innovation that resides in their workforce, will be at the heart of 21st century public services. A 21st century economy relies on skilled, motivated and productive employees in every sector to succeed.

Additionally, evidence suggests that many people, particularly younger employees, want more out of work than simply a wage packet at the end of the month.

Many people are taking increasing personal responsibility for themselves and others in their everyday lives, whether it is care for elderly relatives or healthy and sustainable lifestyles for themselves. They will be less and less willing to abandon that desire for self-determination when they enter work.

The evidence is clear, only organisations that truly engage and inspire their employees produce world class levels of innovation, productivity and performance. If employee engagement and the principles that lie behind it were more widely understood, if good practice was more widely shared, if the potential that resides in the country’s workforce was more fully unleashed, we could see a step change in workplace performance and in employee well-being.

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