Federal Government Falling Short in Workforce Management and Succession Planning Efforts, New Survey Reveals

Research from Cornerstone OnDemand exposes how federal agency management culture and siloed human capital efforts are preventing adequate preparation of workforce

SANTA MONICA, Calif., May 28, 2014 – Although workforce management is a top priority for federal government human capital professionals, new research reveals that current programs and initiatives to manage, develop and engage federal agency employees are not yielding the desired results. A survey from talent management software firm Cornerstone OnDemand (NASDAQ: CSOD), conducted in collaboration with Worldwide Business Research (WBR), also raises concerns as to whether federal agencies are adequately preparing their workforces for future mission needs or preparing the next generation of agency leadership to take on future challenges.

Cornerstone’s and WBR’s benchmark survey, Creating the Next Generation of Federal Human Capital: The 2014 State of Human Capital Management Report, found 76 percent of federal agency human capital executives feel their current employee management programs and procedures fall short of where they need to be, such as recruiting, training and development, performance management, and succession planning. In particular, 63 percent of respondents state that their succession planning efforts are not successful. However, only 38 percent of human capital managers surveyed cited succession planning as one of their top three talent management priorities for 2014.

According to the Government Accountability Office, about 30 percent of the federal workforce will be eligible to retire in the next three years. This makes the survey findings particularly concerning, as the potential loss of leadership and institutional knowledge due to massive turnover underscores the importance of a strategic and efficient approach to developing and retaining individuals with the critical skills needed to lead federal government agencies in the coming years.

Other key survey findings include:

  • 2014 Workforce Management Priorities: When asked to identify their top three priorities for 2014, respondents cited “identifying/closing skills gaps” in their workforce first (71 percent), followed by “recruitment” (60 percent) and “training and development” (53 percent) – three activities that align closely with succession planning.

  • Misaligned Investments: According to the survey, there is a clear disconnect between what agencies cite as their top talent management priorities and where they are actually investing their budgets and resources.

  • Skills gaps: While identifying and closing skills gaps was cited by the majority of respondents as their top 2014 priority, only 45 percent reported they are actively working on related projects.

  • Recruiting: While cited among the top three talent management priorities for 2014, only 46 percent of survey respondents said they are currently investing in effective recruitment initiatives.

  • Training and development: Despite being cited as a priority, only 14 percent of those surveyed reported that they are increasing their training and development investments. In addition, 44 percent are reducing their current investments in training for the coming year.

  • Management culture: Eighty percent of respondents said that the management culture of their organization (apart from budget) was the greatest impediment to achieving their human capital management goals.

While the report reveals the pitfalls of focusing on individual, siloed projects for talent management initiatives, it also presents an opportunity for federal agency human capital professionals to refocus and reprioritize their efforts, as well as unify their strategies for hiring new talent, evaluating and engaging current employees, and developing future leaders. Without a cohesive approach, federal organizations risk the foundation of their human capital today and in the years ahead.

Comments on the News

  • “It is critical that federal government agencies align their workforce management efforts so they may progress toward achieving the common goals of acquiring, developing and retaining the next generation of agency leaders,” said Patrick Devlin, public sector vice president, Cornerstone OnDemand. “An integrated talent management strategy is both a more efficient and more effective way to groom employees for leadership roles and to prepare them to take on future mission challenges.”

  • “Succession planning is about preparing for the future,” said Robert N. Goldenkoff, director, strategic issues, Government Accountability Office (GAO). “If agencies aren’t doing that, or are not doing it well, it could exacerbate the issues going forward as more and more folks retire. The important thing to understand about succession planning, where agencies often miss the boat, is that it’s not a question of duplicating what you are doing now and backfilling vacancies. It’s thinking about what your future needs and requirements are. What’s your mission going to be in the years ahead? That could be very different. Agencies sometimes don’t get that.”

  • “Federal organizations will need to become more flexible and creative in how they accomplish work,” said David Krieg, human capital officer, Internal Revenue Service. “Overly regulated and structured processes and policies will no longer be effective in an ever-changing and increasingly complex environment. Organizations need to empower employees with the freedom to approach problems in different ways. This is particularly important as the workforce becomes more diverse – in terms of different generational groups, and in how people think and work.”

Additional Resources

About the Survey
Cornerstone OnDemand and its partner, Worldwide Business Research (WBR), created the benchmarking questionnaire, which was distributed at WBR’s Human Capital Management for Government (HCMG) conference in December 2013. More than 200 federal government human capital professionals answered questions about strategic human capital planning, workforce management strategies, talent management and best-in-class strategies for building a results-oriented culture. Their roles included titles such as Chief Human Capital Officer, Senior Vice President, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, President and CEO. They represented agencies or organizations as diverse as the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency.

About Human Capital Management for Government
The Human Capital Management for Government Training Series brings together key stakeholders from throughout the federal and defense HR communities to discuss best practices for managing human capital, improving efficiency, and advancing innovation. Launched in 2006, the series of events has evolved into the meeting place for strategic-level policy makers and operational- level HR managers and often serves as the catalyst for new initiatives.

About Worldwide Business Research
Worldwide Business Research is the world's biggest large-scale conference company and part of the PLS group, one of the world's leading providers of strategic business intelligence with 16 offices worldwide. Our conference divisions consistently out-perform their industry sector competitors on the quality of the events we produce and the relationships we nurture with both delegates and sponsors. Every year over 10,000 senior executives from Fortune 1000 companies attend over 100 annual conferences – a true "Who's Who" of today's corporate world. From Automotive events in Bucharest to Logistics conferences in Arizona and Finance summits in Hong Kong, WBR is dedicated to exceeding the needs of its customers around the world. In addition to our industry leading conferences, our professional services marketing division, WBR Digital, connects solution providers to their target audiences with year-round online branding and engagement lead generation campaigns. For more information contact info@wbresearch.com.

About Cornerstone OnDemand
Cornerstone OnDemand is a leader in cloud-based applications for talent management. The company’s solutions help organizations recruit, train, manage and engage their employees, empowering their people and increasing workforce productivity. Based in Santa Monica, California, the company’s solutions are used by over 1,700 clients worldwide, spanning over 14.5 million users across 191 countries and 41 languages. For more information about Cornerstone, visit csod.com. Read Cornerstone’s blog at csod.com/blog. Follow Cornerstone on Twitter at twitter.com/CornerstoneInc. Like Cornerstone on Facebook at facebook.com/CSODcommunity.


Cornerstone® and Cornerstone OnDemand® are registered trademarks of Cornerstone OnDemand Inc.

Media Contacts:

Elizabeth Flax
Cornerstone OnDemand
Phone: +1 (310) 752-1860

Deanna Gillen
WBR Digital
Phone: +1 (646) 200-7950