Today’s post comes to us courtesy of board member Neil Reichenberg, executive director at IPMA-HR.

One of the consequences of working for the same organization – in my case for the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) – for more than 37 years is that people tend to ask me, “What has kept you there so long?”

When I reflect on the answer to this question, it takes me back to the very start of my career, and my strong belief in government, which I believe plays an incredibly positive role in our lives.

In his oft-quoted inaugural address in 1961, President John Kennedy stated, “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

Those words spoke deeply to me at the time and they resonate today just as strongly. And I am certainly not alone. Every day, millions of dedicated public servants answer this call and I have been fortunate through my work with IPMA-HR to interact with many talented public employees – they have kept me here just as much as anything else.

Through research that we have done at IPMA-HR, we have found that the top factors driving employee engagement in the public sector are: serving the public with integrity, feeling a sense of accomplishment, and making a difference by working for government. Indeed, for many people, it is the mission of government that drives them to a career in public service.

Dissatisfaction with government/poor political leadership is consistently cited as the most important non-economic problem facing the country today according to the monthly poll conducted by Gallup. This is troubling, especially coming from someone who has dedicated my career to an association that represents public sector. We must do better to be the positive force in people’s lives that we want to be.

I’m proud to work at IPMA-HR and believe that we have an opportunity to improve the way government works around the world. You see, in order to succeed, governments need to be able to recruit, develop, and retain talented and dedicated employees who are engaged and committed to the important missions of their agencies. Working with public sector human resource management to find these people and engage and develop them properly can make government better and more effective. As with every other sector, it’s the people that truly make the difference.

The promise of making that difference is enough to get me up and to work every day – 37+ years later, there’s still so much good work to be done.

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