Leading by Example

The Problem

If organizations don't improve job quality for their own employees and contractors, efforts to improve job quality within the community will lack credibility. Agencies should not be asking other employers to make practical changes or investments in their employees to improve job quality if they are not willing to make them for their own staff (through living wage and other job quality standards) and for their contractors/vendors (through procurement and purchasing).

Historically, government jobs have been considered high quality in comparison to many private sector jobs, but government employees and contractors are now quitting due to low job quality, as seen in behavioral health, childcare, and social services. Further, many government agencies struggle with persistent vacancies and staffing challenges. Assumptions that government agencies don’t need to evaluate gaps in quality or equity no longer hold true.

Why This Matters

Public agencies pursuing a job quality strategy must model the policies and practices they are advocating for in the community. Agencies need to assess and improve job quality internally for their own employees and contractors through human resources policies and how their spending impacts job quality of contractors.

The Solution

Making changes internally provides hands-on experience for agency staff, helping to inform the design and delivery of job quality interventions for external partners. Additionally, internal job quality initiatives have the added benefit of access to essential data to measure impact (which isn't always the case when working with external employers).

Internal inquiries about job quality increase worker voice and can be illuminating, particularly for agencies that don’t realize that they need make changes to address quality and equity. Internal work also allows an organization to invest in the resources necessary to tackle more complex interventions.

This section helps agencies assess and improve internal procurement and human resources practices that impact job quality for staff and the employees of agency contractors.

Recommended actions can help workforce and economic development agencies advance strategies to finance their job quality strategy for the long term