But the secret is in finding the right notches
It's easy, and probably natural, for public sector organisations to make knee-jerk reactions when they are forced to make economies in staffing and recruitment due to recent government efficiency measures.
But stopping temporary workers, freezing pay increases, offering enticing voluntary redundancy and retirement packages can be very dangerous tactics.
Measures like these might appease public criticism and achieve some short term cost reductions, but a word of caution is required.
Lets fast forward two years: the economy is buoyant, there is less uncertainty in both the public and private sectors, and complex changes are underway to how public services are being managed.
But this transformation needs skilled people to manage it, people with the experience, determination and, in many cases, commercial acumen to see the changes through.
The worry is that unless the public sector acts now to change its ethos, truly values its employees and the workforce is effectively managed, there simply wont be the skilled talent available to manage the changes successfully. The result? Skill shortages, demotivation and stretched resources sound familiar?
This is supported by the recent Hays Public Sector Survey 2011, which found that nearly half of current public sector employees don't expect to stay there, and 45 per cent are either facing redundancy or looking to move into the private sector.
Couple this with the fact that 80 per cent of public sector employers say uncertainty about job security is the main factor in stopping people looking for work in the sector, and 18 per cent saying they are having difficulty attracting skilled talent following the Comprehensive Spending Review, and it's clear that we will all suffer from damaged frontline service delivery in the longer-term.
The survey also found that the main reason for working in the public sector is to make a difference to society (35 per cent). But if existing or potential public sector employees perceive that they are going to be ill-equipped, powerless, or constantly fire-fighting as opposed to making that difference, then why would they wish to stay or, indeed, apply for a high level public sector position in the first place?
Instead, the focus should be on providing ambitious career paths, solid training, and programmes to help existing staff realise their potential. Focusing on the human element is also important to help promote the public sector brand in a positive light, as one with many exciting challenges to be addressed which will, indeed, make a real difference to peoples lives.
In the short-term, focusing on talent retention, playing to strengths, rewarding loyalty and hard work, and considering flexible working or fixed term contracts or as a way of topping up existing staff resources until long-term priorities become more certain, are other worthwhile tactics to consider.
That way, we can think strategically, plan ahead and ensure that the potential for the public sector to thrive in the future is being nurtured now, as opposed to driven out before it has had a chance to take root.