Retain and Gain: Public Sector_EN

Author(s) Lisa Taylor
Publisher CERIC
ISBN 978-1-988066-64-6


This Playbook identifies 40+ low-cost tips, activities and actions that public sector managers can take starting today (some in only 10 minutes a day) to attract, engage and retain staff. Written in an innovative “travel guide” format, author Lisa Taylor integrates a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) throughout and recognizes the unique context of public sector workplaces. The Playbook also provides planning templates and links to additional resources.

Career management – at every level of government – offers a strategic lever for stronger organizational performance and success. Indeed, career management affects more than just employee satisfaction and loyalty. It drives better public service, faster identification of ways to deliver on your mandate and increased opportunity for innovation.

This Playbook is for you if, as a public sector manager, you are concerned about any of the following workforce needs:

  • Recruitment and retention of talented employees
  • Transition support (e.g., onboarding, automation, retirement planning, etc.)
  • Development of new leadership candidates and skill sets
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Career agility, resilience and mobility
  • Reskilling or upskilling that is increasingly needed in the rapidly changing world of work
  • Safeguarding and improvement of mental health and well-being
  • Fostering diversity, equity and inclusion

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About the Author

Lisa Taylor is President of Challenge Factory and the Centre for Career Innovation. She is the author of The Talent Revolution: Longevity and the Future of Work, the Retain and Gain series of Career Management Playbooks and The Canadian Guide for Hiring Veterans.

Retain and Gain: Career Management for the Public Sector – What We’ve Learned So Far


Isabelle Racine, Executive Director and Valérie Plourde, Regional Lead, Quebec & Nunavut, National Managers' Community, Government of Canada

“This Playbook is full of resources that managers and staff can use to help create more meaningful career development experiences. It provides the information and practical tools to retain and engage employees and leaders. It also offers simple steps that can be customized to individual needs and aspirations in order to grow the talent we need to best serve the public as public servants. We especially appreciated the concrete tips for managers and the abundance of additional resources.”  

Susan Osborne, CCDP, Career Development Consultant, Province of Nova Scotia

“Absolutely excellent publication! As with the other Playbooks in the series, the engaging travel guide metaphor and format makes this a very useful resource. I’m impressed with how well the career development guidance has been adapted to and customized for the public service context and I believe managers across the public sector will feel it speaks to their reality. It’s uniqueness as a guide for Canadian public service managers – on a topic of such importance to employee engagement and organizational culture – will make it an instant hit.”  

Tony Haddad and Jim Pine, Co-Chairs, ONWARD - Building Tomorrow's Ontario Municipal Leaders

Attracting, retaining and developing the next generation of municipal staff leaders must be a priority to meet the needs of our cities and towns. In light of the disruptive change that will face municipal workforces over the next decade, this Playbook helps to mobilize talent through practical career management strategies that reduce skills gaps and enable responsiveness. Managers will find this to be an invaluable and easy-to-implement guide to leading more engaged teams. 

Dan Pontefract, best-selling author of Lead. Care. Win. and Open to Think

“Retain and Gain masterfully connects the dots between career management and a meaningful employment path in Canada’s public sector. If you’re looking for a helpful travel guide that assists your career journey, this excellent Playbook is it.”  

Rachel Haché and Nathalie Thériault, Co-chairs of the Interdepartmental Career Community of Practice, Public Service of Canada

“As career development professionals, we often hear that managers are afraid to have career conversations with their employees because they do not want to create expectations, lose talent, or they simply don’t know how. We refer to managers as career enablers and we believe that effective talent management begins with managers having career conversations with every single employee. We love this Playbook because it includes navigation tools that will equip managers with the career coaching skills, inclusive and agile career mindsets, and practical know-how needed to initiate career conversations with confidence.”

Alastair MacFadden, Executive in Residence at Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and Former Deputy Minister, Government of Saskatchewan

Public sector managers are in the driver’s seat of a leadership journey. Guiding a team to serve the public interest is not straightforward. It’s no small task for any leader to invite creativity, and support resilience and results. The circumstances for public managers are especially challenging. You are navigating obstacles, changing conditions, roadblocks, speed limits and frustrating traffic signals. The directions can sometimes put you on the wrong path while at other times they are ambiguous. Managers are maneuvering the heavy traffic of competing priorities in a vehicle whose dashboard offers limited information. The brakes are sticky. Your budget can offer fuel but maintenance or an upgrade can be tough to justify. What’s more, your passengers are with you but can get frustrated, restless and even car sick. This Playbook is designed to support your journey with compassion for your reality. The travel guide format satisfies a hunger for bite-sized, practical advice to super-charge relationships in a way that mobilizes progress. These tips will help you succeed by engaging the full capacity and talent of a diverse team. Whether you’re a veteran or beginner, you’ll find ideas to build your confidence and competence for the road ahead.  

Doug Ball, Executive Director, Ontario Municipal Social Services Association

“I found it a very interesting read, very appropriate and easy to follow. Looking back at my own career and the many leaders who inspired me through my journey in the public sector, I now realize they employed many of the actions steps identified within this Playbook and I am glad they did.” 

Tracey Sametz, Director General, Human Resources, Transport Canada

“Finally! A comprehensive resource that is practical and speaks to the benefits of career planning while providing free tools and pathways that recognize our busy work lives. This should be saved on the desktops of all public service people-management leaders. This compendium is designed for the realities of public service managers and employees; their pressures, challenges and opportunities. We are facing complex demographic challenges, societal movements and digital transformations, which have been fast-tracked over the past year and which deeply influence who we are, what we do and how we serve Canadians. As the public service readies itself for the culture shift for the future of work, and responds to the calls to action on addressing systemic racism, diversity and inclusion, this playbook comes at a critical time to help understand how career conversations are essential to align talent with the organizational needs of today and tomorrow…now.