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Modern government workforce

November 11, 2016

Government finds itself challenged in preparing for the future of their workforce. Organizations must consider a multitude of factors—change in workforce composition, job demands, skill requirements, available personnel, what is valued in a career and employer, and the influence of technology on all aspects of employment—and adjust accordingly their approach to hiring, promoting and succession planning.

As the Baby Boomer generation—the largest demographic in the workforce—approaches retirement, workforce composition will shift. Agencies could realize gaps in institutional knowledge and skills as the new generation replaces them. A percentage of Baby Boomers will opt to remain in the workforce longer due to improved health and living conditions and longer life spans. While this dynamic is great for retaining knowledge, it will impact the requirements for healthcare benefits, increasing related costs to government organizations. The result is a drastically varied workforce composition.

Evolving toward the future workforce

Attracting and retaining a younger generation of talent introduces new challenges. This generation has different values when considering an employer and planning their careers. Benefits and long-term job security are less important and traditional work environments are not attractive. They desire more flexible work environments and benefits that allow them more choices, such as health spending accounts and personal retirement accounts that can move with them. They also prefer flexible work schedules and options to telecommute.

Technology plays a role in how employees work, what job skills they need, and citizen expectations. With the age of technology, most work processes have become digital. No longer are employees recording data on carbon copy forms. Everyone from field workers to mechanics are using mobile applications for their work orders. Citizens are demanding more and expect to connect with their government with convenience, speed, and transparency of information. Agencies are accommodating, moving toward paperless process systems, including everything from personnel and financial processes to issuing permits and licenses. This impacts the older workforce, as agencies move from the paper system toward the new digital world of conducting business. However, this is where Millennials, as digital natives, set themselves apart. Further, governments have expressed an increased need for science, technology engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills for many jobs, and this need will continue to grow. The growth in STEM skill requirements will call for new workers who are more analytical. The transactional jobs of the past will decline.

Addressing the challenges

Through recruiting, retention, and succession planning practices, government organizations can effectively prepare their current and future workforce. By recruiting and hiring the right employee for the job, organizations are one step closer to having a modern government workforce.

There’s more to it, of course, Government organizations are competing with the private sector for top talent, especially those with critical technical skills. Therefore, branding and marketing the benefits of working in government as an innovative and rewarding career is essential.

Identifying the right candidates for the job is the next phase of recruitment. Poor hiring decisions result in low morale and performance, in addition to high turnover. Innovative HCM approaches to hiring, such as talent science, can identity best fit for jobs on the front end using behavioral analysis. Talent science has proven to be successful in placing the appropriate candidates in hard-to-fill jobs and jobs with high turnover.

Once they have hired the best candidate, government organizations must work to nurture and retain talent. An employer makes the biggest impression on new hires within the first 90 days. Keeping employees engaged through learning and performance feedback can influence the new employee’s impression of the organization. HCM solutions providing employee on-boarding, succession planning, learning management, and performance management can aid in employee retention.

Talent is not only found outside the organization, but internally as well. Successful succession planning can utilize talent science to identify internal candidates for growth within the organization. Once identified, training, formal mentorships, and development programs prepare these employees to be future leaders, filling in gaps identified through the behavioral assessments.

Government organizations must adjust their work environment and benefits programs as part of their recruiting and marketing strategy. Flexible schedules and telecommuting are attractive to Millennials, and enable an organization to lower costs.

Offering flexible benefits and a variety of health and retirement plans can also assist governments in the recruiting and retention of employees. Younger generations are more interested in limited coverage and lower premiums, while older generations are looking for more traditional benefits with greater coverage. With various options, organizations can meet the demands of the workforce, further supporting recruiting and retaining employees.

The future workforce is taking shape with multiple generations working side by side. Recruiting, retaining, and developing the right employees will be fundamental in shaping the future modern government workforce. HCM programs, such as succession planning, performance management, and learning and development, enable organizations to select the best candidates, and ultimately fulfill the mission of their organization.

To learn more, visit Infor Public Sector; download thought leadership, See your future in your talent acquisition process

Heather Sherlock, Director, Infor Public Sector

  • Federal Government
  • State and Local Government
  • North America
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