Perspectives on Local Government as the Employer of Choice

ARTICLE | May 6, 2016

In April we introduced a new series, inspired in part by the recently released report from the LGRC, Workforce of Tomorrow, called #WorkforceWednesday, where each month explore a new theme by sharing articles, conducting interviews and asking questions. The goal of #WorkforceWednesday is to explore the various aspects of working in local government, but more importantly to spark a conversation in your own organization. 

To kick off the series, we asked: What makes local government your employer of choice? Was there one or two experiences, perhaps with a citizen or through seeing a challenging and rewarding project to frution, that reinforced your decision to pursue a career in public service? Essentially, we were looking at the personal value proposition and experiential component of seeing change take place.

As we see, often the "choice" to pursue a career in local government is instilled at an eary age. As retired city manager and local government change agent Cheryl Hilvert wrote: "As a child, when the other kids were out playing, I was the one that was taken to council meetings when important issues were facing our community or neighborhood. He made sure that I knew the name of our mayor and our school superintendent.  He also made sure that I knew how important it was to be an active and involved citizen of my community and educated about what was going on around me. And perhaps most importantly that "giving" and not just "taking" was what I needed to do throughout my life." Learning the importance of giving back is something that also influenced Max Balgemann, as his mom "would take me with her when she volunteered at the front desk several days a week. I learned the importance of volunteers and how they make a big difference." Through these experieces, he forged his own path, shaped by his own experiences in volunteerism. And it was these experiences,  juxtaposed with his stints in the private, for-profit sector, that lead him to see "public service as the place I fit best."

Even for those who arrived at public service in a similar way, sometimes there is a need for the impact to be reinforced and visualized. As Gabriella Bommer with the City of Arvada, CO explains, "I love working for the City because I see the pride of public service and the genuine passion our employees have for enhancing the lives of everyone in our community through the delivery of great service on a daily basis." While it is not always easy to see, the important work carried out daily can be a strong factor that motivates people to continue their public service journey. Ms. Bommer described the experience of working on a successful employee welless project from ideation to overwhelming succeess, showing how experiences shape our perception of our own impact. For her, local government is the employer of choice beacause "I have the ability to be innovative and solution-oriented, and I can see first-hand how my work directly translates to great results."

Of course, these are just a couple of the perspectives on local government as the empoyer of choice. But even through just a few examples, clear trends emerge: a passion to give bac and improve quality of life for those around you. Often it is a value that is molded from early on and revitalized or invigorating when we can see the results.

Follow along as we move into May and tackle the topic of engaging the workforce. This month we want to hear how supervisors and supervisees sit down and discuss their careers, challenges, and aspirations.

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