Overcome the employment crisis: new research insights on values-driven employees

Public sector employers aren't bouncing back from workforce shortages

While private-sector employment has regained and exceeded its prepandemic levels, public sector employers are still struggling to recruit and retain talent. State and local government agencies remain below their February 2020 employment levels, colleges and universities are at risk of losing over half of their staff, and burnout has created a staffing crisis in public health and healthcare, leading to an increase in adverse health events in hospitals and health facilities and healthcare deserts. 

Amidst ongoing economic uncertainty and a tight labor market, how can employers at public service agencies, nonprofits, educational institutions, and other values-driven organizations attract and retain the next generation of mission-oriented leaders? 

To answer this pressing and timely question, KW2 conducted research with over 650 Midwestern adults under age 35 to uncover what they’re looking for in an employer, what’s most important to them when considering a new job, what barriers they face in the job hunt, and what keeps them happy at an organization. 

Our research found that two-thirds of employees believe it’s very important to work for an organization that allows them to contribute meaningful work that has a greater purpose to society. What’s more, over two-thirds would be willing to accept a job with a lower salary if the work they would be doing made a positive difference in the world.

Other key findings of the research include:

Millennials and Gen Z believe working for an organization with values that align with their own and the ability to make a difference in the work they do is more important than competitive wages, financial benefits like 401(k) matching, and other benefits like affordable health insurance or paid family leave.

Values-driven employees expect their employers to have policies that live up to their stated organizational values, but don’t necessarily require their employers to be outspoken or public about their views on social issues.

Young employees want to be involved and invited in—making it easy for employees to provide meaningful feedback to leadership was the number one initiative those surveyed wanted their employers to focus on. 

However, while most Gen Z and Millennial employees want to collaborate with their employers on work that makes a difference, the research also uncovered that far fewer would consider government and public sector (38%), nonprofit (40%), child care and early education (50%), or higher education (52%) careers. Young workers want to make a difference, but many aren’t choosing to work in values-driven careers or industry sectors.

To learn more about how to overcome this gap between workers’ values and actions, how evaluate your employment brand and pipeline, and strategies for improving your culture and retaining valuable employees, register for our webinar on November 15: Don’t Miss Your Moment: Attract and Develop the Next Generation of Values-Driven Leaders.

In this hour-long session for marketers and human resources professionals, KW2 researchers and strategists will join Colin H. Mincy, Former Chief People Officer for Global Human Rights Watch and current CultureCon contributor, to delve deeper into the research findings and how organizations can leverage these insights to attract and retain the next generation of values-driven employees. 

Register Now