Employers are looking for individuals who can intertwine their beliefs with organisational values to share in a vision and success.  As leaders in the human services sector consider how to attract, recruit, and retain individuals, we need to prioritise values-based discussions and building cultures that unify employees around a common goal.

Human services employers and workers may be on the same page when it comes to prioritising values-based work. Employers want candidates to have a connection to organisational values, and candidates are looking for work that has meaning.

Research by the Human Services Skills Organisation (2022) shows that employers place their highest priority on the values and attributes individuals hold and their level of interest or fit with the sector. Most employers are confident they could train the skills if people already had the right attributes – soft skills are crucial. However, disharmony between personal and organisation values often resulted in turnover in many employers’ opinions. This situation was evident in the churn or cycling of employees through different employers or different areas of the human services sector.

PwC (2021) Hopes and Fears Survey—a global survey of 32,500 workers (including Australian workers) shows that a large majority of people want a job with a sense of purpose. The research found that nearly three-quarters of Australians (74%) said they want to work for an organisation that will make a positive contribution to society. Workers today want to do something that is meaningful. Half of Australians polled said they would choose a job that makes a difference.

How can employers in human services harness this?

HSSO Chief Executive Officer Ms Jodi Schmidt said that when it came to recruiting into the sector, placing a high priority on individual values and attributes would yield best results.

“Employers, particularly in the human services sectors are increasingly looking to recruit for values and attributes, and an interest in the sector first and foremost.

“If people are looking for a rewarding career that is meaningful, then they need look no further than the human services sectors. We can do more as a sector to show the meaningful professions and careers available.

Does a focus on values and culture really get results?

According to employers in the human services sector – yes.

Maroba Caring Communities provide aged care services to the Newcastle community. They offer residential care with specialist services such as palliative and respite care and retirement living homes.

Maroba continues to set the bar high in today’s dynamic climate with a motivated, engaged, and stable workforce. So what sets this team apart?

Connecting and investing in people is the only way to build a thriving culture, according to Maroba Aged Care’s CEO, Viv Allanson.

The veteran health care professional said she is often asked what the secret ingredient is to Maroba’s culture – which has seen the organisation go from strength to strength with a stable and dedicated team.

Viv said there was no secret – it just comes down to her core principals.

“I tell everyone – love what you do, love who you do it for, always do what you say you are going to do,” she said. “That’s it – the results speak for themselves.”

Maroba’s People and Culture partner, Rachel Hollis, said their philosophy centred on investing in people.

“We want our team to bring their energy and passion to work and Maroba’s teams genuinely work as teams.

“The sort of people who are well-suited to working in aged-care and human services industries are big-hearted who have the energy and passion to care for others.

What attributes are a good fit for human services?

Research by the Human Services Skills Organisation confirmed that having a genuine interest in human services was a vital foundation to a long career in the sector. The research also examined the types of attributes employers had found led to greater retention:

  • positive attitude and energy
  • positive attitude about working
  • growth mindset, looking to take on challenges and increase their own abilities
  • compassionate, and have passion for the sector, empathetic and dedicated
  • passion for helping people
  • respectful, honest, strong moral principles
  • supportive and encouraging towards others
  • rapport and relationship-building skills

When you are looking for individuals to fit in with your workplace, consider culture, consider values, and recruit for the right attributes. Surround yourself with people who want to be there and have a passion for helping people (many employers find this is linked to longevity). This is the best way to ensure your employees are engaged in a purpose and will help you deliver excellent service to your clients.

Attract the right people—if you’re recruiting, there couldn’t be a better time to talk about your higher purpose, and the enriching types of roles within human services. Lead with the attributes you are looking for in your candidates and prioritise those individuals who are a good fit.


PWC (2021) Hopes and fears https://www.pwc.com/hopes-fears