If you’re a human capital leader in the U.S. Government, you already know this: you’ve got your work cut out for you.
At one of our recent roundtables with the Partnership for Public Service, Reginald F. Wells, keynote speaker and former Social Security Administration Human Resources and Chief Human Capital Officer, put it this way:
“Government faces many challenges—budget cuts, shrinking workforces, pay freezes, increasing workloads and negative rhetoric about federal employees. Without proper attention to our employees, we will be hard-pressed to weather the turbulence successfully.”
The Administration recently asserted its priorities on the subject in the first-ever Quadrennial Federal Workforce Priorities Report, and workforce strategy is a growing focus for agencies. But when we talk with government leaders, many say they don’t feel as prepared as they’d like to be and are now trying to more proactively plan and prepare for their future workforce needs.
Within the context of broader government transformation, here are three ways we’re seeing human capital leaders obtain and retain key talent, and meet their agency’s mission.
Look at talent—not resumes
With talent shortages for many high-demand jobs, the government must compete with the private sector to pull in the top candidates. That’s caused agencies to start thinking differently about how they identify appropriate skillsets. When recruiting for cyber jobs, for example, some agencies are using gamification and hackathons as ways to see candidates put their skills on display.
For certain in-demand positions, agencies like the departments of Agriculture and Treasury are leveraging their existing flexibilities to offer pay incentives so they can better compete with the private sector. (Watch our experts discuss federal recruitment strategies with the Partnership for Public Service.)
Upskill to fill talent gaps
The Office of Personnel Management and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council have identified government-wide skill gaps in four critical areas: STEM, cybersecurity, acquisition, and human resources. To fill those gaps, agencies should first focus on upskilling current employees, and relocating those displaced by reorganization efforts. For functions like cybersecurity, where skill requirements change at a rapid pace, this upskilling and development should happen quite regularly. Where possible, to get the best results from your training, put employees in a live environment where they can navigate a set of real scenarios.