Private Sector Reward Practices Could Work Equally Well in Public Sector

January 28, 2010 — Washington, D.C. — Total rewards, a system developed within the private sector in the past five years, is a viable approach in the public sector, despite certain unique programmatic applications, such as variable pay and pay for performance. This was the key finding in a WorldatWork white paper released today titled, “Total Rewards in the Public Sector: An Opportunity for Integration and Communication.” The white paper is the product of several focus groups WorldatWork conducted with nearly 60 U.S. public sector HR managers in October 2009. The finding comes as the U.S. federal government prepares to hire 230,000 workers in the next two years and as the rest of the public sector braces for the retirement of the baby boomer generation.

There are more than 1,000 HR managers in the public sector who have obtained WorldatWork certification giving them the skills to design and implement total rewards programs compared to 19,000 in the private sector. Total Rewards involve the deliberate integration of five key elements that effectively attract, motivate and retain the talent required to achieve desired organizational results. The five key elements are: compensation, benefits, work-life, career development and recognition.

“The U.S. government has some inherent challenges attracting, motivating and retaining talent compared to the private sector,” said Paul Rowson, managing director of the WorldatWork Washington D.C. Office and Conference Center. “Government must call upon the trained and certified HR managers among its ranks to provide counsel and guidance on the integration of an entire spectrum of monetary and non-monetary rewards to maximize employee engagement.”

Key findings:

• Unique cultures and diverse stakeholder groups, including unions, elected officials, the public, career employees and others, create special challenges in the design, management and implementation of an integrated public sector Total Rewards strategy.
• Total Rewards program elements (compensation, benefits, work-life, career development and recognition) tend to be managed in disparate functions within public sector HR organizations. Some elements are even managed outside of the HR function. For example, the public sector is missing a total rewards opportunity by viewing telework as a contingency plan instead of as an employee benefit that is part of a rewards package.
• Communication is key to successfully integrating Total Rewards in the public sector. Public sector HR managers realize the need to gain the endorsement and support for an integrated rewards strategy from senior leaders, line managers and employees.

For help in integrating total rewards, download a copy of the WorldatWork Total Rewards inventory checklist here.

About the white paper
“Total Rewards in the Public Sector: An Opportunity for Integration and Communication” was based on focus group research WorldatWork conducted in October 2009. Nearly 60 HR managers from the public sector participated in six 90-minute sessions held virtually via web conference over a two-week period.

Organizations represented in the focus groups included but were not limited to:
Alberta Electric System Operator
City of Edmonton
City of Las Vegas
City of Ottawa
City of Seattle
City of Tacoma
City of Vancouver
Civilian Personnel Management Service
Department of Defense
Department of Homeland Security
Federal Reserve Bank
Florida International University
Halifax Port Authority
Indianapolis Public Schools
LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Missouri Department of Transportation
Snohomish County Superior Court
State of Colorado
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
University of Connecticut
West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

About WorldatWork®:
The Total Rewards Association

WorldatWork ( is a global human resources association focused on compensation, benefits, work-life and integrated total rewards to attract, motivate and retain a talented workforce. Founded in 1955, WorldatWork provides a network of nearly 30,000 members in more than 100 countries with training, certification, research, conferences and community. It has offices in Scottsdale, Arizona and Washington, D.C.

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This press release was distributed through PR Web by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: on behalf of the company listed above.