1. The future of the public service: Preparing the workforce for change in a context of uncertainty

In a context of increased uncertainty and disruption, public service workforces are surmounting numerous challenges and leveraging significant opportunities. Today’s COVID-19 crisis has placed the public service at the centre of the greatest global disaster response effort experienced in recent memory. Public servants are being called on to ensure the resilient delivery of health services under particularly challenging circumstances, provide economic relief to businesses and families, and ensure that fundamental social services remain in place for those who count on them. At the same time, public servants are impacted themselves by the crisis, often working remotely with new technologies and implementing new ways of working. The crisis has sped up flexible working, collaboration and co-ordination across government bodies, and innovations from within public administrations. In many ways, the future of the public service is arriving faster than many had expected. This presents opportunities to review and renew efforts to ensure public servants are supported in the essential roles they play in society.

However, uncertainties about the future raise many questions in various areas of public employment. In the short to medium term, public servants will be called upon not only to help manage the health, social and economic impacts of the crisis, but to also find innovative solutions to help rebalance budget deficits in the immediate aftermath of recessions. The opportunity and policy challenge is to find a way to use budgetary pressure and high expectations from citizens to spark transformation in the public sector rather than making short-term cuts that freeze renewal and stunt progress, as was often the experience resulting from the 2008 financial crisis.

This chapter contributes to a vision of what could be possible and desirable for the future of the public service so that governments can align policies with that vision as they emerge from the crisis. The chapter builds on discussions held in November of 2019, when civil service leaders from OECD countries gathered in Paris to explore the forces that are reshaping the work of the civil service, and the employment policies needed to support this work. These leaders generally agreed on the following points:

  • The promise of new technology to improve government service delivery will only be achieved with a commensurate investment in the capabilities of civil servants.

  • Change is not new but is happening at a pace that requires constant reconsideration of what civil servants know, and how they learn and acquire new knowledge.

  • Civil services need to become more flexible, agile and responsive in the way they organise, reward and employ.

  • There are important new possibilities to focus people management on the experience of work, public service values, mission and the public good to attract and retain diverse employees.

Together, these common considerations create the backbone of a vision for a public service that is forward-looking, flexible and fulfilling to a diverse range of public employees. In many ways, the COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the importance of these principles that ring true in new circumstances, and if anything have become even more pressing and relevant.

This chapter presents a vision of the possible – a public service of the future that is able to attract, retain and develop talent that can direct new technology and innovation to areas of pressing public need, and respond quickly to fast changing global circumstances. By way of introduction, this section explores some of the trends affecting the future of work in the public sector: digitalisation, changing career expectations, and an ageing workforce.

Digitalisation is driving the transformation of society, the economy, the government, and the world of work. While the potential benefits of this transformation are immeasurable, many researchers also discuss potentially negative impacts, the destruction of jobs in particular, and the potential for such transformation to exacerbate growing levels of inequality.

Technologies will affect the way public servants perform many jobs. While most economists believe that new technologies will create more jobs than they will destroy in the long-run, automation is expected replace many tasks that people do today. The focus on tasks is an important distinction, as most jobs include some tasks that may be automated, and others that will likely not be. Therefore, the OECD’s research estimates 14% of jobs across the economy are at high-risk of automation (i.e. they may disappear completely) while 32% of jobs may see from 50 -70% of their tasks automated and will therefore be radically transformed (OECD, 2019[1]). More specifically, routine manual tasks will likely be replaced by non-routine tasks performed alongside technologies. This trend is not new, as clerical jobs used to represent more than 19% of the public workforce in the United States in 1985, versus 4.3% in 2017 (US Bureau of Labour Statistics), but the potential scale of the impact could be unprecedented.

When it comes to public sector workforces, governments will choose which jobs to automate and which to transform – they are in control and set the pace of change. An important difference between the public and private sectors is that market forces will not apply the same pressure to automate. Other pressures, such as the expectations of citizens, and desire to benefit from possibilities of new technologies and fiscal constraints will surely exist, but the public sector will benefit from time to consider when and where to use automation. Alongside this planning, successful transformation will depend on careful planning and work redesign at the organisational level, as well as reskilling and upskilling strategies at the individual level. The goal is not to replace people with machines, but rather to ensure people are working in highest value positions, enabled by technology. To achieve this, workforce planning and digital transformation need to happen in a joined up, integrated and inclusive fashion, recognising that these transformations will impact different groups in different ways. These points are further explored in the next chapters.

In many professions, individual careers diverge from traditional paths. This may be particularly true in those high-tech professions most typically associated with the future of work, but this is also apparent in the public sector. The typical public sector career, in which public employees would climb the hierarchical ladder of a secure lifetime job, is already showing signs of erosion. Horizontal moves, pauses for learning and development, etc., will become the norm.

One of the widespread myths in this area is the idea that new generations of employees have completely different expectations than previous generations – that they want more independence or more meaningful experiences. A 2016 study (Gallup, 2016[2]) showed that when applying to a job, millennials and baby boomers1 usually sought the same aspects – the quality of management and interest in the type of work. Millennials were more interested in opportunities to learn and grow than baby boomeers, which is likely a function of age rather than generation. This does not mean these generations are not different, but they often have misunderstood expectations.

Considering their size, public employers are very well suited to embrace non-linear career paths through internal mobility and the creation of flexible project-based workforces using “talent pools” of public workers to manage in-demand skills and fluctuations of activity. However, many OECD countries report lower attraction rates to their public services, especially for in-demand skills. This is probably the result not only of salary mismatch, but also of reputation and communication problems. There are also associated risks. For example, the use of non-standard forms of employment can lead to under-employment, lower hourly wages, worse working conditions. In turn, these can affect disadvantaged groups disproportionately, for example by deepening gender inequalities in the workforce (OECD, forthcoming). Some of these trends are on the rise across the labour market including in public services.

Most OECD countries are experiencing an ageing of their population, translating into an ageing of their workforce. In many OECD countries, the share of central government employees aged 55 years or older is significantly higher than the broader labour market (Figure 1.1); and moderate or high austerity measures prevented hiring for several years following the global financial crisis in 64% of OECD countries (OECD, 2016[3]).

The ageing of the public sector workforce will shape the future of the public service. Older workers may be more exposed to the risks brought by digitalisation than younger cohorts. Indeed, on top of lower levels of digital readiness than other segments of the population, workers aged 55-64 are less engaged in job-related training (OECD, 2016[4]). The future public service will have to make the most of the knowledge of older cohorts. New special roles as advisers or coaches, with flexible working conditions, can strike a balance between retaining the capacities and knowledge of older workers and the need for younger workers to enter the public workforce.

Public service workforces across the OECD are facing similar challenges and trends, and much uncertainty. Taken together, these suggest that a future-ready public service will need to be more forward-looking in order to identify the way the work will change, the skills and talents that will be needed and plans to get from a current to future state of readiness. It will need flexible workforce management to be able to access the skills it needs to meet fast emerging, often-unforeseen challenges. Additionally, it will need to provide fulfilling work experiences to attract, retain and motivate an increasingly diverse workforce. Moreover, it will need to do this in a way that protects and reinforces the public service values that serve as a foundation for public employment, such as the rule of law, accountability, objectivity and political neutrality, merit and protection from discrimination. The public sector cannot simply transplant people management from the private sector, but must lead by example. Each of these three themes are explored in the next pages.

A forward-looking public service understands how the work of public servants is changing, and knows how to transform its workforce to get the work done. It is a public service that can anticipate the skills it will need and has the tools to plan ahead so that skilled workers are ready to be deployed at the moment they are needed. The COVID-19 crisis reminds us that the future is highly uncertain. This places a special emphasis on how to plan for uncertainty and support public service resilience. In addition to emerging technical skills, cognitive, social and emotional skills such as the ability to learn, adapt and manage through ambiguous situations will likely increase in importance across all public service professions.

The OECD has done extensive research on workforce skills in general (OECD, 2019[5]) and public service skills more specifically (OECD, 2017[6]). The 2017 report on Skills for a High Performing Civil Service identifies four ways the civil service workforce delivers public value, and some of the emerging skills associated to each:

  • Policy advice and analysis: Civil servants work with elected officials to inform policy development. New technologies, a growing body of policy-relevant research, and a diversity of citizen perspectives demand new skills for effective and timely policy advice. Emerging skillsets in this area include the use of foresight techniques, experimental policy design, data-driven policy development, open policy making, design and systems thinking.

  • Service delivery and citizen engagement: Civil servants work directly with citizens and users of government services. New skills are required for civil servants to effectively engage citizens and co-create better services. Emerging skillsets in this area include nudging, social media management, prototyping with the public, crowdsourcing, challenge prizes, digital services and user analytics.

  • Commissioning and contracting: Not all public services are delivered directly by public servants. Governments increasingly engage third parties for the delivery of services. This requires skills to design, oversee and manage commissioned arrangements with other organisations. Emerging skillsets in this area include using commissioning to achieve secondary objectives (e.g. environmental, social, etc.), agile product development, social finance, impact investing, and the design of social impact bonds.

  • Managing networks: Civil servants and governments are required to work across organisational boundaries to address complex challenges. This demands skills to convene, collaborate and develop shared understanding through communication, trust and mutual commitment. Emerging skillsets in this area include incubating social innovation, leveraging government as a platform, building partnerships around open government data and systems approaches to public problems.

Two additional categories of skills will be fundamental enablers of the emerging skills identified above. First, a digital future requires a workforce with digital skills. The second category is the cognitive, social and emotional skills that render people effective in their work, and that are foreseen to become even more prominent in a future where increased automation takes over many of the routine tasks previous performed by public servants. These are explored in turn.

Digitalisation creates an opportunity to reconsider the work of civil servants and focus it on innovation, transformation and value-added effort. In this context, public services will likely need to appeal to different skillsets than in the past. In a 2020 survey conducted by the OECD, a large majority of countries identified significant challenges in attracting people to their central public administration with skills in digital, data and STEM (Science Technology Engineering, and Math) areas; followed by senior level leaders and managers.

In a recent analysis, the OECD (OECD, 2021[7]) argues that the digital transformation of the public sector cannot be carried out by the “IT department” alone. All civil servants in a digital government require a multi-faceted understanding of the potential for digital, data and technology to transform the functioning of government and better meet the needs of the public. The OECD identifies a foundational set of competencies for digital government that go beyond basic digital literacy and the ability to use digital tools. These competencies are discussed across the following five areas:

  1. 1. The potential of digital transformation: establishing a shared vision and mindset across the public sector for the possibilities provided by digital and data to respond to the needs of the public.

  2. 2. Understanding users and their needs: identifying service users, understanding the extent to which needs are being met and how to reconfigure or redesign a better approach.

  3. 3. Collaborating for iterative delivery: involving the public as early and often as possible, to ensure service design and delivery reflects their needs; and appreciating the benefits of open source code and ‘working in the open’.

  4. 4. Trustworthy use of data and technology: Managing information and digital security and data handling or processing.

  5. 5. Data-driven government: understanding the potential for applying data in one’s daily work to and equipping all public servants with the abilities to source data, carry out analysis and define actionable metrics for measuring success, outcomes or impact.

In addition to these baseline skillsets, a forward-looking public service will also require investments in digital specialisations. These specialisations, outlined in Box 1.1 go beyond many public servants’ perceptions of the traditional roles found in IT departments. They include a range of design and management professions that need to be embedded in multidisciplinary teams with policy and service delivery experts to redesign digital services. While these skills do not apply to all civil servants, managers of services will need to understand their application and how to access them as they integrate digital services into their delivery channels. Given that women are underrepresented in digital jobs in OECD countries, it is important to consider this dimension and make extra efforts to reach these under-represented groups (OECD, 2021[7]).

The United Kingdom’s Government Digital Service (GDS) provides an interesting example of how a government can map digital skills across a wide-ranging civil service. When GDS was formed, there was not a recognised digital profession in government with a defined framework of roles and skills. Civil servants with similar responsibilities had different titles, different pay, and varying levels of expertise. Box 1.2 provides a short summary of the work they undertook to map skills across the ministries and develop a common structure that has become the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) profession of the UK civil service.

Technical skills will have to be complemented with social, emotional and cognitive competencies. Cognitive skills are sets of thinking and reasoning strategies that support, for example, creative thinking and problem solving. These also include higher-order skills (sometime called meta-cognitive skills) that enable learning, critical thinking and the self-awareness to recognise one’s own knowledge and skills, including their limitations. Social and emotional skills include peoples’ abilities to develop empathy, cultivate relationships, effectively manage group dynamics, and accept personal accountability and responsibility. These will be especially important in an increasingly diverse and multi-disciplinary public service workforce.

Adapting to fast-changing work environments and ways of working requires different sets of competencies. For instance, project-based work requires strong social and emotional competencies, to establish rapport and enable co-operation with different stakeholders over a certain timespan. It also requires metacognitive competencies to enable collective learning within a dynamic process. These skills are particularly complicated to develop and assess within a workplace, as they refer to emotions, behaviours, values and ways of reasoning. This is a key challenge for the future of the public service.

These cognitive, social and emotional skills are especially important for public service leadership. The OECD has identified four leadership capabilities (Figure 1.3) that effective senior level public servants are using to address complex public service challenges (Gerson, 2020[9]). Each of these capabilities focuses these skills in different directions. Although based on observations specific to senior level public servants, these capabilities are likely applicable to most professional disciplines in the public service, particularly those involved in multidisciplinary and project-based work. Leadership is not only for those working at the highest levels of the organisational hierarchy.

In 2020, the OECD also conducted a survey of its member countries to determine which skills and competencies were prioritised in leadership competency frameworks (Figure 1.4). Competency frameworks set expectations for behaviour among senior level public servants and those who aspire to those positions, and they usually determine training and development priorities and criteria for selection. The results suggest that countries expect their public service leadership to communicate a vision and strategy for achieving results through public values, integrity and networked collaboration. However, many of the future-oriented competencies identified in the paper are less emphasised in these frameworks, such as emotional intelligence, resilience and crisis management, inclusion and digital competencies. This raises questions as to whether and how these competencies are prioritised in the development of current and future public service leaders.

Another emerging skillset relates to the management of transboundary and global challenges, which cannot be addressed by one government alone. This includes big societal challenges that dominate discussions about the future, such as climate change, international migration, and the regulation of social media, but also more acute crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasingly, it appears that most issues that the public sector addresses, have local, national and international aspects that require even those public servants who work on domestic issues, to have some awareness of international activities, practices and processes.

From a domestic governance perspective, relevant skills might include anticipation and risk management, to prepare for, and address the domestic impacts of global challenges. Furthermore, many global challenges are highly complex and technical in nature, raising questions about whether public servants have or have access to necessary trustworthy expertise. For example, what kind of skills will public services need to harness the opportunities and challenges posed by global digital players?

Another related skill set is about how public servants engage with key stakeholders to best address global challenges. This requires skills and understanding of how to influence on the international stage. This raises questions about the skillsets required of diplomatic services and whether they are fit for today’s digital and global challenges. But also how policy experts within line ministries access international bodies and leverage their knowledge and expertise to contribute to policy making at the international scale. It also includes skills to understand and partner with other governments, international private sector entities, and citizens.

Resilience is a key capability for the future, to address uncertainty and the sense of increasing rates of change. The COVID-19 crisis reminds governments of the importance of resilience, defined by the OECD as, “the capacity of systems to absorb a disturbance, recover from disruptions and adapt to changing conditions while retaining essentially the same function as prior to the disruptive shock”. Since the workforce is at the heart of public service delivery systems, resilient public service systems depend upon resilient workforce management (discussed in the next chapter) and resilient public servants. There is no one skillset that makes workers resilient, nevertheless, public services can focus on developing a workforce rich in skills that could contribute to resilience. This may include the following:

  • Wellness: resilience takes energy and implies added stress when people are forced to work in new, often sub-optimal conditions, at a moment’s notice. This puts a high premium on health – physical and mental – and organisational and management support for it.

  • Motivation and commitment to mission: committed employees will be the first to find new ways of delivering the mission when the environment shifts around them.

  • Anticipation and foresight: public servants who systematically take into account a variety of plausible future developments can design systems that are ready to withstand shocks.

  • Creative problem solving: Even with foresight, not all problems will be foreseen. Regardless of an employee’s technical expertise, creative problem solving can enable public servants to apply their skills to unpredictable challenges.

  • Learning agility: learning to learn is at the heart of innovation, resilience and adapting to future change. Innovation is primarily a learning experience, and resilience is innovating in real time, managing through unforeseen crises, learning with imperfect data and information and learning from mistakes.

  • Systems thinking and collaboration: resilience requires connections across organisational boundaries. This requires public servants who understand the machinery of government and complex service delivery systems, and already have the relationships needed to co-ordinate response with the different key actors.

A forward-looking public service requires coherent and robust workforce planning. In a fast-changing employment environment, with scarce skills and resources on one side and unpredictable future changes on the other, strategic workforce planning based on foresight capabilities has the potential to become a cornerstone of public employment policies. Good workforce planning requires:

  1. 1. A good understanding of the organisational operating model, transformation strategies and objectives, and the broader operating environment, including the socio-political context and the labour market.

  2. 2. High quality mapping of current workforce in terms of numbers, skills, performance, potential and diversity of the workforce.

  3. 3. Determination of future workforce needs based on factors such as the transformation strategies and objectives of each government organisation, changing skills needs, diversity objectives, motivation and engagement of employees (including differences related to gender, age, etc.), numbers and expenditure (not just in terms of salary, but also hiring, development, retiring, etc.).

  4. 4. Identification of workforce gaps, including gaps in profiles that are lacking and those that are oversupplied. This would have to be done with a specific view to each profession and each competence area, since no two skills sets are alike.

  5. 5. Actions to address the gaps – which require flexibility in the management of the workforce; a whole-of-government perspective on allocations across sectors and co-ordinated implementation approaches that work in lock step with other transformation exercises.

  6. 6. Monitoring, evaluation and accountability from the highest levels of management (not just HR).

Australia’s Public Service Commission has recently launched a workforce planning capacity development programme that aims to develop workforce planning skills in all of its central government HR offices:

A forward-looking workforce plan should begin with a solid understanding of the current workforce – their skills, activities, potential, motivations and engagement. But how much do governments really know about their workforce? Figure 1.5 shows the extent to which the generation, collection and centralisation of administrative data varies across OECD countries. Many public services are generating and collecting more data on their public employees today than ever before. This can and should contribute to better workforce planning. (OECD, 2019[10]). This includes:

  • Demographic and employee profile data can give a snapshot of the workforce. These data enable a better understanding of skill sets, workforce diversity and age, and ideally map available skills and identify gaps.

  • Administrative data show employment trends and patterns that can indicate organisational health through, for example, job attractiveness, efficiency of HR processes, and mobility/turnover rates.

  • Employee surveys data can provide rich indications of employees’ engagement and satisfaction with their work and working environment, as well as the use of their skill sets, and employee’s perceptions of their opportunities to develop emerging and necessary skills.

  • Labour market data focus on key skills availability in the labour market and contribute to decisions around the way emerging skills can be incorporated into the workforce.

Using the data to inform workforce planning requires increasingly sophisticated people analytics – bringing all the data areas listed above together to form a deeper understanding of workforce strengths, gaps, and trends. For example, people analytics can help to understand:

  • current workforce strengths and gaps by providing a granular understanding of employees in posts and the skills they possess, their likelihood to stay or advance, and the general quality and quantity of their work output.

  • future workforce needs and gap analysis by mapping employees to (future predicted) activity levels, benchmarking with other organisations, forecasting based on past trends and workforce modelling, workflow transformation analysis (e.g. when implementing new digital tools), and informing scenario planning.

  • actions to address future needs by assessing the availability of needed skills in the labour market and determining potential attractiveness, cost-benefit analysis of recruiting versus developing skills in-house, developing reskilling plans to move employees from one area to another, conducting risk analysis on various options.

However, most countries struggle to use workforce data effectively. They lack the skills and capabilities to conduct scientific analysis, to drive insights and proactively use HR data for better management decision making and HRM policy development. ‘Data scientist’ is not yet a common job profile within HR departments in the public sector. The Korean government is taking active steps to address this problem (Box 1.4).

Digitalisation presents specific and unique challenges that need to be addressed by workforce planning. Technology enables the automation of tasks (mostly routine and manual for now) conducted by humans, and therefore any transformation plan that contains these technologies needs to be accompanied by a careful workforce plan that identifies the tasks that will disappear and redesigns jobs around those that will stay. It must also include analysis of the changing numbers of employees needed to do the redesigned job, and plans for those who will no longer be required to help them move to new jobs (see more in the discussion on reskilling in the next chapter). Israel’s civil service commission has been developing a method to do this (Box 1.5)

Furthermore, the recent crisis illustrates that workforce planning should not give a false sense of security over a future that is increasingly uncertain and difficult to predict – there is a risk that overly rigid workforce planning systems could act as constraints to the kind of flexibility needed in times to respond to uncertainty. Rather strategic workforce planning can be used to plan for a resilient workforce and to build up better data on the workforce that can be leveraged in moments of crisis. Indeed this was part of the motivation for Australia’s investment in their workforce planning capacity development programme (Box 1.4). Planning for an uncertain future could include:

  • Planning in two time perspectives: In the longer-term, a strategic plan should be aligned to a vision of the kinds of public service needed in the future. It also requires shorter-term operational HR planning that is revised and recalibrated regularly to adjust to ensure responsiveness to unforeseen changes in the operating environment.

  • Workforce data can help manage uncertainty, providing a better view of skills availability in times of crisis.

  • Scenario planning is a well-developed tool to map various plausible futures and inform plans that take these into account.

  • Workforce planning can also be used to identify potential flexibilities in the workforce, including talent pools for surge capacity when needed, mobility tools to link internal supply to demand in emergency situations, and the identification of essential functions and jobs that can be done at a distance, and the supports needed.

  • Finally, workforce planning for uncertainty should include investments in resilience skills as discussed above.

A flexible public service can move people with the skills it needs to the places it needs them in reaction to fast changing circumstances, regardless of organisational or programmatic silos. It can stop doing things that are no longer needed and move that talent to places that are emerging priorities. It is able to upskill and reskill the existing workforce to make use of new technologies and respond to new challenges, and it promotes a culture that encourages experiential learning, reflection and improvement. A flexible public service can also access skills from the labour market quickly and effectively. Finally, it recognises the individuality of public servants – that each comes with their own sets of skills, knowledge, personal lives, and needs. This flexibility means that the public service is able to provide work arrangements that reflect these – including time and place of work, and terms and conditions of employment. A flexible public service recognises that ‘one size fits all’ solutions and policies are of the past.

The need to work across policy and organisational silos will only increase. The problem of policy silos is already well known, and the OECD has launched work on delivering results across organisations. However, public employment systems tend to reinforce silos, as workers’ positions are usually attached to specific organisations with vertical reporting relationships. This is a common challenge, one that is often addressed through senior management performance and accountability systems (see, Chapter 3, Figure 3.15, which shows that in almost all cases, senior level public servants are made accountable for cross-government objectives through either shared or individual accountability structures). This a can be a useful tool, however the challenge of resource flexibility remains: how to ensure that people, and their skills, can be made available to support leaders in achieving these cross-governmental objectives? This will be a key challenge to resolve in the public employment systems of the future.

One promising response is Canada’s Free Agents programme, which was developed as a small scale experiment to address some of these issues. Free agents2 are employees who are hired by one host ministry and then lent out to others who require their specific skill sets to develop time-bound projects. Free agents are usually embedded into an existing team and work with them to support a project for a period of six months to a year. This model has been considered a success for both the free agents, who enjoy working on specific time-bound projects in different ministries, and to the teams that benefit from their support. It should be noted that the Free Agent programme is a staffing strategy to increase mobility within the current classification framework. Creating a more flexible employment framework will involve important systemic reforms across areas of classification, compensation, terms and conditions of employment, as well as tenure and location of work. It also requires a change in mindset from employees and their managers.

Rigid silos also present barriers to resilience in the face of unforeseen shocks and crises. Those public services which already had flexible structures in place to redeploy staff for short-term assignments tended to fare better in terms of people management during the COVID-19 pandemic, which enabled a more resilient response. Figure 1.6 shows the scale of the resourcing challenges faced across OECD countries’ central public administrations. Most countries identified pressing needs to deploy surge capacity to their health, employment, social and security services. Figure 1.7 shows the various tools that were used, which consisted primarily of temporary reallocations within and across ministries, and the accelerated use of existing hiring procedures. A minority of countries repurposed existing online tools to manage staff reallocations and hiring during the crisis. This underlines the importance of knowing where employees with needed skill sets are located and having the tools to redeploy them in short order. The experience of those countries that used these tools and processes will likely provide a path forward to a more flexible public sector workforce in the future.

Remote working is another important aspect of workforce flexibility that was implemented in unprecedented levels during the COVID-19 crisis. Most OECD countries reported that a large majority of their central government employees worked remotely during the first wave (Figure 1.8). Those governments that already had the tools, policies and practices in place to enable this were able to quickly and easily transition to maintain employee productivity and meet the needs of the moment. Furthermore, the same survey suggests that the vast majority of country respondents expected remote working to continue, and to embed this practice in the future operating models of the public service.

The COVID-19 crisis has shown that when conditions allow, employees can be moved quickly to work on high-priority issues regardless of their physical location. Therefore, it is possible that a future-ready flexible workforce will not be employed by any single ministry or agency, but rather by the government as a whole, and available for the needs of the moment regardless of their physical location. Before the crisis, there was already a trend towards an increasing individualisation of working arrangements for public servants. This included tailor-made arrangements in terms of working hours, workplaces, and sometimes work content. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that this is not only useful for employees, but also for government response to crisis and uncertainty.

Developing the skills discussed in the previous chapter will not happen without deliberate attention and investment in upskilling employees to keep up with new tools and developments, and reskilling for those employees whose jobs become redundant. Most public services do not use redundancies to replace their workforce with the skills they need to the same extent as private firms. Instead, they must rely to a greater extent on learning and development tools and strategies to prepare the public service for the future.

A flexible workforce requires a culture of continuous learning. In addition to formal training programmes, public servants need space for experimentation and learning-by-doing. In the fast-changing landscape of work, lifelong learning will become increasingly important in public sector employment policies, allowing people to adapt and enhance their future potential.

Regardless of their particular role and specialisation, public servants will need to upgrade their understanding, skills and competencies regularly to ensure they keep up with societal and technological change. This may mean learning to use new digital tools, making use of emerging data sets, keeping track of national and international development and good practice, and taking regular training to update their skill levels.

This can be achieved by developing structured professions within the public service that provide a career path for specific functions – HR, Data, Digital, Finance, Policy, Science, etc. In the UK civil service, there are 28 recognised civil service professions, each led by a designated head. Each of these professions clearly states the kinds of skills and training one should have at each level of the professional development path, including skills developed on the job and through training programmes. This can help to develop a pipeline and track skills availability across public service organisations. In this sense, the future may not be a professional civil service, but rather a civil service of many professions, united under a common set of core values and sense of common purpose.

Reskilling aims to help people transition from one job type to another. People who are doing work that will no longer be done in the future, due to social and/or technological changes, or who wish to change the work they are doing for personal reasons, require careful consideration. Effective reskilling requires an organisational and individual approach.

At the organisational level, consideration can be given to the job type that is impacted and jobs at similar skill level that are potentially suitable for impacted employees. Automation replaces specific tasks, rather than whole jobs, so a fine-grained analysis is required to determine which tasks within jobs will be automated, how that job will evolve (which tasks remain and how can they be reorganised) and what training and accompaniment is required.

At the personal level, it is important to consider the specific skill sets of an individual – their technical and behavioural/cognitive competencies, and their potential and desire to learn and transition. Motivation, coupled with the right learning supports, is likely more important than the technical skills they have. This is not to imply that clerks can become data scientists, but if an administrative clerk has excellent Excel and organisational skills, they may well find a supportive role to play within a data-driven profession.

The bottom line is that the reskilling challenge in the public sector has the potential to be significant and costly.3 However, training for civil servants was subject to significant funding cuts in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis in 62% of OECD countries (OECD, 2016[3]). Indeed, it is often the first thing cut when public services look to identify cost savings. However, any transformation strategy that includes investments in digitalisation must also consider the commensurate investments needed in workforce development. The two will have to be addressed together, to prepare the public workforce for the future. The good news is that the pace of change will be set by the government itself, and therefore can be accompanied by a structured and deliberate approach to reskilling that works on organisation and individual levels.

Formal up/reskilling programmes should exist within, and reinforce, a culture of continuous learning. The popular 70/20/10 framework, where only 10% of learning is done in classrooms, 20% through social interaction, and 70% by the experience of the work itself, is a reminder that a learning culture must extend far beyond the classroom. Experiential learning provides a great wealth of possibilities if supported and structured in a way that enables it. Often, operational demands of work reduce the opportunities to design learning into it.

Blackman et al (2019[11]) suggest the use of Bandura’s social learning framework to think through the full range of learning opportunities that an organisation can offer. Social learning theory positions the workplace as the primary venue for learning, and the direct supervisor and teammates as the primary teachers. It also identifies four distinct elements of a complex process that adults require to learn and adopt new behaviours to build capability or respond to change:

  • Attention – observing role models who exemplify desired behaviours – this is often a direct supervisor in a workplace, but can also be influential colleagues or senior management (although proximity is important, suggesting that senior leaders have less influence than direct supervisors in many cases).

  • Retention – processing and recalling behaviours for future use

  • Motor-reproduction – mastering behaviours through practice, self-correcting activities and constructive feedback, which suggests a role for work assignment, and regular feedback in informal settings, from the direct supervisor and other stakeholders when possible.

  • Motivation – identifying clear benefits from adopting certain behaviours to motivate ongoing practice and eventual mastery

Developing a learning culture requires that all people managers have the skills to not only organise work, but to develop their employees. Managers need to be role models and coaches, providing space for collective reflection, practice with new tasks and tools, frequent constructive feedback, and rewards for learning achievements.

Managers also need to support an environment allowing for experimentation, iteration, and learning by doing, and provide safe spaces for group reflection on successes and errors. Too often, a culture of risk aversion limits public employees from trying new things for fear of breaking the complex rules that guide public sector activity, or concerns that failure will result in punishment rather than being seen as a learning opportunity.

Public services have, in most cases, higher accountability and transparency standards than the private sector, and these, coupled with politically sensitive working environments, produce additional disincentives. This puts an even higher premium on the need to take active approaches to support innovation and experimentation in safe and controlled ways; to enable the safe testing of new approaches at small scale; and to celebrate the lessons learned from testing new approaches, even when they do not produce the results that were expected.

Moreover, a culture of continuous learning is essential in the ever-increasing pace of change characterising the future, and for pathfinding in unforeseen crises. It is a fundamental aspect of resilience.

Recruitment in the future public service needs to be fast, and targeted to the right skills and profiles. The public sector across OECD members is facing growing pressure to attract, recruit and retain candidates with much-needed skills. Chapter 4 (see Figure 4.2) shows which profiles are identified as being particularly challenging to recruit – with data, digital and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professions most often identified. These professions are also in high demand in the private sector, against which the public sector must compete.

In a context where the needed skills, competencies and behaviours are only emerging, government recruitment should be strategic and targeted. Hiring specialists requires tailoring recruitment processes to attract specialists and assess their skills. Chapter 4 shows how most OECD countries are taking steps to attract needed skills. For example, France has been systematically identifying problematic job profiles and tailoring recruitment strategies to each. It also looks at how Governments need to ensure fairness and representation, addressing bias to improve diversity and inclusion.

The OECD survey (see Chapter 4, Figure 4.6) also shows which tools are most often used to attract the profiles highlighted above. Most countries have developed awareness-raising strategies, including presence at career fairs, and the use of targeted recruitment campaigns communicated through traditional and social media. Many have also developed strategies to reach out to universities to target potential candidates early in their skills development. A sizeable minority of countries have also developed more active programmes including headhunting and specific fast-track development programmes. For example, the United Kingdom’s fast stream programme now has 15 different streams specifically targeted to profiles that are hard to recruit, including data and digital, commercial, and even HR specialists. A number of countries have also developed more flexibility in their salary systems to address pay gap issues for these specific profiles.4 The use of short-term fellowships, where candidates are given prestigious opportunities to work on high-impact projects for shorter periods of time, are perhaps under-utilised and could be considered as tool for further development in the future.

Recruiters also need new tools to assess cognitive, social and emotional skills that are essential for building resilience: including learning potential, management and leadership capabilities, and collaboration. Most OECD countries still rely on interview questions to assess leadership capabilities (see Chapter 3, Figure 3.9). These are most effective when combined with other methods, such as simulation exercises and 360-degree feedback. The increasing sophistication of these assessment methods suggests that recruiters themselves may be targets for professionalisation in a future-ready public service.

Speeding up often-lengthy recruitment processes is a long-standing goal for many OECD members. While many good reasons exist to take some necessary time to ensure that hiring is done well, fairly and transparently, slow hiring processes can be less competitive – the best candidates may drop out of the process when they are offered jobs from others first. A small number of OECD countries indicate faster recruitment processes for specific profiles. Additionally, many OECD countries indicated the use of faster recruitment to manage surge capacity during the COVID-19 crisis, including the development of new online recruitment tools (Figure 1.7). These experiences could potentially be considered as pilots for reforming recruitment systems for improved speed, efficiency and accessibility, charting a path toward a future-ready recruitment system. This may mean confronting issues such as legacy recruitment systems, legislative frameworks, professionalising the recruitment function and empowering managers to act with greater discretion while managing risks of reduced transparency, accountability and quality. The example of Belgium’s Ministry of Finance illustrates this opportunity and some of the challenges faced (Box 1.8).

In many OECD countries, public servants are traditionally employed through a specific legal status that emphasises stability and lifelong employment: this generally entails high levels of job security, stable but limited (seniority-based) pay and benefits, and a decent pension at the end, based on years of employment. These were put in place to ensure independence from interference by political authorities, and to identify those positions that exercised power on behalf of the state. From an employment perspective, this may work well for occupations that are specific to the public sector, that do not benefit from a high level of movement in and out, and for those that require protections, such as judges and the heads of law enforcement agencies.

However, the future of the public service brings a need for a wider variety of skills and backgrounds than ever before. With this greater diversity of skills comes the need for a greater diversity of employment models. Traditional public service employment may not be equally attractive for all profiles in the labour market – for example, some in-demand tech professionals may be less interested in being a lifelong civil servant. They may be more interested in taking shorter-term contracts (with higher pay options) that enable them to work on interesting projects with high visibility and impact.

For jobs or situations in which the traditional employment model is deemed unsuitable, governments often look to consulting contracts and third party providers. The problem in these situations is that governments often lack the internal skills and expertise to be smart buyers of complex products and services, resulting in wasted spending and lack of skills transfer.

However, these options are only two ends of a spectrum – lifelong public service employment at the one end, and service-based contracts at another. In the middle, there is a whole range of often untapped potential for shorter-term employment, project based employment, and prestigious fellowships that all can be used in cases where governments have shorter-term skills needs and want to find more flexible ways of integrating skills from the labour market. The goal is not to end traditional public service contracts, but to define when and where they provide the most value, and expand the range of tools available to access the skills needed, particularly when they are in short supply in the existing pool of public servants.

Flexible employment modalities can also enable surge capacity to address fluctuations in demand, including in emergencies. The COVID-19 response in many countries involved the use of more streamlined and temporary employment modalities in some countries, including the use of volunteers, students, and innovative partnerships with stakeholders, including civil society, academia and the private sector.

Pay and salary structures are another aspect of the employment package that could benefit from more flexibility in the future. Pay flexibility can often help to attract and retain employees with the skills discussed above. Employees also increasingly expect to be hired, managed, and compensated according to their unique sets of skills, performance and personal priorities. This could provide an opportunity for public employers to provide more individualised and flexible sets of terms and conditions to match, allowing for a more equitable approach to compensation. Compensation should be envisioned with a total reward approach, encompassing wage as well as other benefits the public service has experience in providing. From that perspective, shorter-term contracts could accompany higher pay levels since they carry less long-term liability (and security from an employees’ perspective), making them more suitable to hire key skills from the labour market.

However, this complex issue can prove extremely challenging. While the public sector may be better able to access a broader pool of skills and have greater flexibility in deploying them, divergences across organisations without clear criteria and guidelines as to which contractual modality fits which type of situation could create unintended consequences, such as excessive or inappropriate use of certain contractual modalities, undermined stability and institutional memory (particularly if short-term contracts are used in an excessive or inappropriate way), inequities in pay levels between organisations resulting in internal competition and possibly wage inflation. Additionally, pay/employment flexibility risks exacerbating inequities if human rights, gender (gender pay gaps are unfortunately well established and persistent in the public sector) and fairness lenses are not considered and applied, and could open the door to undue political influence in impartial public services. This introduction of further flexibility therefore requires clear and coherent guidelines, oversight and social dialogue with all the stakeholders involved. The degree to which private employment models can be adapted for public sector use merits further debates.

The public service of the future will attract, retain and make best use of the skills it needs by providing fulfilling work experience. One of the main themes of this paper has been the need for increased diversity across the public service workforce – not only demographic diversity so that the public service reflects the society it serves, but also in terms of skill sets, professional backgrounds, experience, and ways of thinking and solving complex problems. Therefore, the public service needs to provide fulfilling work in many different ways, to different kinds of people. A fulfilling public service is one that understands employee experience by tracking data and employee behaviour. It uses this understanding to improve management and leadership to generate fulfilling work experiences in inclusive environments; to improve job design to increase autonomy and sense of achievement; and to design employment policies that enable individualised support - one-size-fits-all solutions are not the answer.

For work to be fulfilling, it should provide both a sense of purpose, and a positive work experience. A sense of purpose can be achieved by emphasising the mission, impact and values of an organisation and aligning those to develop a sense of employee pride. A positive work experience begins with looking at the working environment and aligning management tools to support employee motivation.

Public sector organisations are purpose-driven, and can use this purpose to attract, retain and motivate employees. Employees are increasingly attracted to job opportunities that align with their values and sense of purpose. Given the mission-orientation of public sector organisations, this should be a benefit. Indeed, in a recent OECD survey on attraction, most OECD countries highly rated a general interest in the public good, and the mission of their organisation ( see Chapter 4, Figure 4.4). However, employees often appear to get lost in the bureaucratic requirements of their job, and express a sense of removal from the impact of their work. With increasingly sophisticated performance data, public employers can find new ways of communicating achievements and bringing employees closer to the impact of their work.

While purpose is important, the everyday experience of work also matters. Research shows that factors that motivate include a sense of achievement, recognition, the experience of the work itself, responsibility, advancement and growth (Herzberg, 2003[12]). Therefore, the future public service should emphasise these elements in the design of jobs and the management of employees. This has to be done by giving more space and autonomy to employees to use their skills in effective ways. It requires trust between management and employees (and between the political and administrative layers) in order to ensure employees feel some control over their work and are given the opportunity to develop in their roles. In the future, the public sector will have to move away from jobs defined by rules towards jobs defined by objectives, autonomy and accountability for results; where employees feel empowered to test new approaches and innovate. Rules-based work is the kind of work that is increasingly easy to automate.

Diversity is a clear and ongoing trend in the public service workforce. While women’s representation in senior levels has continued to grow, many OECD countries have extended their diversity targets and policies beyond gender. In fact, most countries report specific targets for people with disabilities, while some (but fewer) also include people from disadvantaged backgrounds, ethnic minorities and LGBTI in their targets and policies.

Many countries go further still, to actively develop a workforce that reflects the diversity of the society it represents, by using data to identify gaps and then using targets and active workforce development tools to fill those gaps. For example, 20 OECD countries have specific initiative to develop organisational culture and raise awareness about diversity and inclusion within their administrations, while 19 countries use specific outreach and communication strategies targeted to underrepresented groups. Some countries use special internship programmes (10 countries) or dedicated coaching and mentorship programmes (9 countries) to improve public service diversity and inclusion. These kinds of active interventions depend a solid legal foundation of merit, equal opportunity and protection from discrimination. This is captured in a new composite indicator presented in Figure 1.9.

This reflects not only a moral imperative to develop a workforce that reflects the diversity of the societies they serve, but also a business imperative to access skill sets that may be less activated in the workforce. Furthermore, diverse teams in an inclusive environment have been shown to contribute to innovation and better policy and service design. As such, it is safe to assume that diversity will continue to grow in the future, suggesting a great need for inclusive work environments.

Many of the trends and changes discussed in this paper have the potential to affect various groups in differently, if not managed carefully. For example, the trend towards digitalisation may result in more digital and STEM experts working in government, and these are industries which tend not to be male dominated, and potentially lacking in other diversity considerations. Trends towards increases in remote working and other flexible working arrangements may also have implications for gender equity, if, for example, they are used primarily by women. Or perhaps this will be the pivot that sees men taking advantage of these arrangements equally. Furthermore, any move towards pay flexibility and individual salary negotiations will have equity considerations that need to be tracked and managed carefully.

Managing a diversity of skills, backgrounds and career paths reinforces the need for individualised approaches to competency-based people management. While there is great value in analysing under-represented groups together, the concept of intersectionality is a reminder that individuals belong to multiple identity groups that can include gender, nationality, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, professional roles, family roles, community roles, and so on. Therefore no two members of any one group are the same, hence the need to diversify the criteria governments use to understand diversity, and also focus on individuals.

Managing diversity requires a greater focus on skills and competencies than ever before. Hiring managers, for example, tend to rely on proxies for skills, such as university degrees and/or number of years in a similar position. These are blunt instruments that often have the effect of reducing the diversity of candidates. People acquire skills in different ways, through different combinations of training and experience, and through various and divergent career paths. This suggests the need to refocus assessment tools on skills and competences.

Previous OECD work on the themes of diversity and inclusion (D&I) identifies the following necessary elements of next-generation D&I strategies, that build on a firm legal foundation that protects equality and anti-discrimination: (Nolan-Flecha, 2019[13]).

  • Address employees’ and employers’ deeply engrained views and assumptions: Developing an inclusive organisational culture means changing attitudes and behaviours at all levels of the organisation. This can be an extremely challenging undertaking as many unconscious (and conscious) biases can often work against well-intentioned D&I initiatives. Policy interventions based on findings from behavioural sciences have aimed to responsibly “nudge” inclusive views and behaviours in public sector organisations.

  • Build inclusive leadership competencies across all levels of the organisation: Senior officials and team leaders should display inclusive leadership skills aimed at making employees feel accepted, respected and enabled to contribute at their full potential. Ensuring leaders receive effective learning opportunities on inclusive competencies, integrating inclusive leadership skills in existing competency frameworks, and rewarding inclusive leaders through performance evaluations are still emerging policies in the public sector.

  • Leverage data and evidence to inform and monitor D&I initiatives: Countries have various resources at their disposal including administrative data, data from employee surveys, or specific analytical tools (i.e. “inclusion indices, diversity trackers, etc.”) to support benchmarking or examine particular groups or processes in greater detail. Emerging data driven methodologies demonstrate potential to capture intersectionality and better inform policies. A general shortage of data science skills in the public administration, and legal constraints about the types of data that can be collected may hinder some countries more than others.

  • Establish the adequate governance mechanisms for more effective and accountable D&I policies: To be successful, D&I strategies must be supported by effective governance mechanisms that serve to promote coherence across agencies while respecting the individual inclusion needs of individual organisations. Governance mechanisms that balance a top-down with bottom-up approach help ensure accountability for results while also ensuring that the concerns of employees are continuously reflected in policies.

Higher levels of employee engagement improve the quality of public services and public sector innovation. Employee engagement is assessed and tracked through employee surveys, and can provide important tools for building evidence on employee experience and segmenting this across different aspects of the workforce (OECD, 2016[3]). Some research suggests that engagement, performance and learning are intrinsically linked through goal setting, frequent and informal feedback from managers, and efficient performance management that can track progress. Goals that are clear, specific and challenging can also be encouraging and drive personal learning outcomes, creating a virtuous cycle in a learning culture (see previous chapter), and making the public service a more attractive employer. As learning becomes more important and widespread, well-designed performance management systems will take learning into account as much as performance (CIPD, 2016[14]).

Engaging a diversity of employees also requires leaders and managers who are not just hierarchical superiors but also coaches enabling change. Effective coaching is based on the establishment of expectations, continuous support and accountability. Such an evolution in the role of managers in the public sector might require training and the development of new skillsets to recognise the unique strengths of each employee and how to support them to achieve objectives, contribute to the success of the team, and develop. This is an intrinsic part of diversity management and of developing a learning culture.

The future of the public service will be enabled by new technologies, and shaped by changing expectations of workers young and old. However, it will be designed by governments. Governments will choose which tasks to automate, where to invest in needed skills and how to develop a workforce that is forward-looking, flexible and fulfilling. For this reason, the future of the public sector will be different than in the private sector, and will advance at its own pace, ideally learning from successes and failures in other organisations and sectors, and leading by example, to embed and reinforce public service values. This future will not come about naturally. Governments will have to take an active role in setting a vision for this transformation and making the necessary investments to achieve that vision.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a catalyst for change. Most of the elements highlighted in the sections above have been adapted or radically transformed to manage in an unprecedented and unexpected situation. Sometimes almost overnight, the public sector found itself under pressure to ensure public service continuity. It has generally responded with exceptional agility and resilience. This crisis has also acted as a stress test, exposing many of the strengths and weaknesses of public services, highlighting the need for a flexible public sector that can engage its public servants in times of ambiguity and uncertainty.

The capacity of public services to be more resilient to face the megatrends linked to the future and the next set of crises will rely on the design of post-pandemic policies in many areas, including people management. As governments design and implement recovery plans impacting most sectors of national economies, there is an important opportunity to reflect on the public service workforce that is needed to deliver these effectively today and into the future. The following key challenges could help guide this reflection:

  • A forward-looking public service is one that is able to identify the emerging technical skills and competencies needed to ensure resilience in an increasingly uncertain future. This presents a challenge to find workforce planning methods that recognise uncertainty and prepare for the next shocks.

  • A flexible public service in the future will be one where different kinds of people work from more locations at different times, contributing their skills and experience to projects, across multi-disciplinary teams, learning as they go. This presents a challenge to embed flexibility and learning into the core of public employment systems so that public services generate a culture of learning, better risk management and experimentation.

  • The public service of the future will attract, retain and optimise the use of the skills it needs by providing fulfilling work experience to an increasingly diverse range of employees. This presents a challenge for governments to improve job design to increase autonomy and impact, and design employment policies that recognise employees as individuals.


[14] CIPD (2016), Could do better? Assessing what works in performance management.

[11] Dickinson, H. (ed.) (2019), Developing and Recruiting the Future Public Servant, Springer.

[2] Gallup (2016), How Millenials Want to Work and Live, https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238073/millennials-work-live.aspx.

[9] Gerson, D. (2020), “Leadership for a high performing civil service: Towards senior civil service systems in OECD countries”, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 40, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/ed8235c8-en.

[12] Herzberg, F. (2003), One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?.

[13] Nolan-Flecha, N. (2019), “Next generation diversity and inclusion policies in the public service: Ensuring public services reflect the societies they serve”, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 34, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/51691451-en.

[7] OECD (2021), “The OECD Framework for digital talent and skills in the public sector”, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 45, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/4e7c3f58-en.

[1] OECD (2019), OECD Employment Outlook 2019: The Future of Work, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9ee00155-en.

[5] OECD (2019), OECD Skills Outlook 2019 : Thriving in a Digital World, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/df80bc12-en.

[10] OECD (2019), The Path to Becoming a Data-Driven Public Sector, OECD Digital Government Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/059814a7-en.

[8] OECD (2018), HR and Leadership Strategies for Building Innovative Public Sector Organisations, Alpha version, OECD, Paris, https://oecd-opsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/HR-and-Leadership-Catalyst-for-Innovation-Capabilities.pdf.

[6] OECD (2017), Skills for a High Performing Civil Service, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264280724-en.

[3] OECD (2016), Engaging Public Employees for a High-Performing Civil Service, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264267190-en.

[4] OECD (2016), “What does age have to do with skills proficiency?”, Adult Skills in Focus, No. 3, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5jm0mq158zjl-en.


← 1. The definition of Millennial usually refers to people born between 1980 and 1995, not to be confused with Gen Z, the latest cohort. Baby boomers are usually defined as those born between 1945 and the beginning of the 1960s.

← 2. For more information, see: https://wiki.gccollab.ca/Canada%27s_Free_Agents/FAQ

← 3. According to World Economic Forum, the 1.37 million workers projected to be displaced within ten years could be reskilled for a cost of USD 34 billion, almost USD 25 000 per worker.

← 4. While individual salary negotiations may help improve pay flexibility and attract certain profiles, care should be taken to manage for unconscious biases that may result in higher salaries and bonuses to more mainstream candidates, thus further disadvantaging candidates from vulnerable groups. For more information, please see OECD (Forthcoming, 2021), Future of Work in Public Service: What is in Store for Gender Equality.

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