Public Sector Policies

How government agencies can vastly fix their personnel problems through analytics.
By Mike Giuffrida
The last few years haven’t been easy on any organization. Government agencies and the public sector are facing a series of challenges that are set to have an impact on how they manage talent if things don’t change.
Sequestration/budget shortfalls loom large. Agencies have only begun to feel the sting of austerity measures. During the fiscal year 2013, the impact of federal sequestration was estimated at just over $85 billion. Should this mandate reach its end date, agencies will have to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget through the next decade. Even if a budget does get passed, federal budget pressures will persist. State and local governments are under pressure as well, tasked at cutting current spending by more than 14 percent, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Baby boomers are retiring. With more than 68,000 employees leaving the workforce, the number of federal retirements in 2013 was forecast to nearly double that of 2009, according to additional GAO data. It also reports that by 2016, more than one-third of federal employees will be eligible to retire. State and local government age demographics paint a similar picture: In 1992, one-quarter of all state and local public-sector employees were 50 or older. By 2012, that number jumps to 37 percent, according to research from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE).
Days-to-hire standards are increasing. In 2008, the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) set a target for government recruiters to reduce the average number of days to hire to 80. As much as five years later, 54 percent of U.S. agency chief human capital officers (CHCOs) and deputy CHCOs surveyed report that their agencies do not meet this standard, according to research by Federal News Radio.
Combine these trends with the state of government HR legacy IT systems and you have the makings of a serious crisis. At all levels of the public sector, legacy systems have remained in place for years—even decades. The main issue here it the lack of integration with other systems andenterprise-wide data. Disparate, disjointed systems limit the potential of recruitment, training/development, and other core competencies of talent management. When there is no sharing of the critical data that can shed light upon bottlenecks, optimal HR performance will be undercut.
The stakes are high: Two of every five organizations report that a bad hire costs in excess of $25,000, finds survey research from CareerBuilder. Seven in 10 employers say such hires lower productivity and worker morale, and sometimes trigger legal action, reports CareerBuilder.
How Analytics Can Help
A fully integrated approach to software analytics can help agencies resolve a great deal of the pending personnel problems. Analytics establish single point-of-view visibility and assessments of every cycle of recruitment. With standardization comes collaboration, and with collaboration comes a heightened sense of which best-of- industry solutions will work. Research demonstrates that organizations adopting these tools are reaping the rewards: According to the Corporate Executive Board, standards of new employee quality and engagement can improve 19 percent when organizations deploy talent-analysis tools. And organizations with best-in-class metrics programs perform 25 percent better than average ones on time to hire, according to
So what exactly do analytics technologies do?
Application-cycle command. It’s obvious that agencies must target today’s Millennial generation to replace all of the departing baby boomers. But Millennials aren’t likely to wait out a recruitment process that stretches for several months. With 24/7 access to technology bringing a sense of immediacy to their professional and personal lives, these workers expect prompt responses from employers. They’ll move on—perhaps to the less deliberate private sector—if they don’t hear back within what they consider reasonable time. Analytics software products deliver visibility and can monitor how long candidates are spending at each phase. Users can also see when contenders are dropping out to target those stages for improvement.
Active engagement. Analytics allow users to set up automated programs so they know when it’s time to reconnect with promising candidate. An update note can ease any feelings of being “lost in the shuffle.” This allows agencies to stand out with an appealing, human presence.
Directory building. As agencies develop this personalized presence with various talent pools, they can assemble a database of candidates which can be searched by niche— and niches within those niches. Readily available IT solutions empower them to track each candidate’s educational progress, anticipated arrival on the market, work history, etc.
Comprehensive, continuous improvement. Analytics are ultimately designed to foster continuous improvement throughout all substantive areas of HR, as opposed to strictly the job-application cycle. Analytics solutions such as business intelligence (BI) products augment the ability for agencies to evaluate which areas/departments/regions are falling short on maximizing talent-management components such as onboarding and training, which are exceeding metrics-based standards.
Best practices are more easily adopted due to this “wide view” breakdown of the numbers—practices that can be adopted departmentally and possibly even government- wide. For example, in the private sector, Best Buy can precisely identify the productivity value of a 0.1 percent increase in engagement among workers at a particular store. The organization estimates that this sliver of a percentage translates to more than $100,000 in a store’s annual operating income. Sysco has leveraged analytics to monitor the job satisfaction of delivery associates and has boosted retention from 65 percent to 85 percent—saving nearly $50 million in hiring and training costs. There’s no reason why the same impact can’t benefit the public sector.
With this, HR/talent management leaders will find their status within an agency ascending to that of a much-sought and respected contributor to critical organizational strategies. And that’s the real value driver here. No longer confined to processing mundane forms about employment histories and health-care benefits, CHCOs can bring to the strategic table a capability to break new ground within areas such as recruitment, training, performance management, and workforce planning.
Mike Giuffrida is co-founder and CEO of NGA.NET, a global leader in IT solutions for talent acquisition and talent management.

Tags: Consultants & Advisors, HRO Today Global, Professional Contribution

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