The fact that the public sector is an attractive employer in times of recession has been demonstrated in an earlier study by Randstad Research. However, this is also the case when the economy is doing well, according to their most recent study, involving 14,000 participants and presented today. On average, 42% of the respondents consider it attractive to work for a public-sector employer. This compares to a mere 34% for the private sector. The only people who do not find the public sector more attractive are those under the age of 25. In the summary of reasons to choose an employer it appears that the number of people putting environmental and social care in their top 5 criteria has never been so high.

environmental and social concerns have never been so important in choosing an employer

It was Randstad Research's 19th study of employer brands in Belgium's largest private-sector employers, and 14,000 people participated. This time the investigation also included the public sector. It was the first time that the public sector had been studied during a period of economic growth. What did they discover? In general, it remains more attractive to work for the public sector than for the private sector. Around 42% consider it attractive to work for a specific public employer. The average score in the private sector is 34%. The pharmaceuticals sector (45%) is the only individual sector to be considered slightly more attractive than the public sector. An important aspect is that these findings do not apply to young people (under the age of 25). This group even considers the public sector a little less attractive than the private sector (33.3% and 34.9% respectively).

However, the gap between the public and private sector has closed considerably. In 2012 (recession), the difference in attractiveness reached as many as 16% points (43 and 27% respectively). This difference has now halved (42% and 34%).

Therefore, the public sector also remains considerably more attractive than the private sector even when the economy is booming. This is not such a big surprise. Job security remains a very important reason to choose an employer, and the public sector naturally scores better in this domain. However, in terms of salary too - currently by far the most important criteria for choosing an employer - the public sector can easily compete with the private sector. The public sector also scores a whole lot better than the private sector when it comes to work-life balance, job content, development prospects, and environmental and social care. This is an important discovery considering today's growing shortages.

environmental and social concern have never been so important in the choice

Salary remains by far the most important criteria for choosing an employer, followed much lower down by job security, ambiance and work-life balance. Further down the ranking, the sudden evolution in environmental and social concern stands out. Almost one in five respondents includes this in their top five reasons to choose a specific employer. This percentage normally never exceeds 15%. For young people this percentage is even as high as 25%. Is this a sign of a new trend?

two out of three employees are prepared to sacrifice pay for job security

Although job security is no longer the most important reason to choose an employer when the economy is doing well, it does remain very important. This is also demonstrated by the question whether employees would be prepared to sacrifice pay in return for job security. Indeed, two out of three employees are actually willing to do this. On average, people are prepared to sacrifice 6% of their salary. Young people and the unskilled are willing to sacrifice the most (9% and 8% respectively).