The federal government is the largest employer in the United States. But is it the most efficient when it comes to human resources? According to a collaboration between Cornerstone and the Partnership for Public Service, it may be less efficient by favoring old paper-based processes over newer automated and integrated IT systems.
Many federal agencies are still relying on outdated processes for onboarding, performance management, timekeeping and departure, while others are doing double time with disparate IT systems. In fact, one federal agency currently has 24 different paper forms for each new federal employee to complete during onboarding. Often times, new hire orientation is spent filling these paper forms out on the first day of employment.
Along with creating inefficiencies and costing money, the lack of integrated and automated processes for HR create an arguably greater issue: misinformation and inaccuracy. Paper records and IT that doesn't communicate with one another makes it increasingly difficult for leadership to utilize data to make informed decisions around hiring and performance management. It also makes it equally challenging for employees to have a timely understanding of their value and contribution to their teams.
How should government agencies approach updating their systems? Based on our research conducted with the Partnership for Public Service, here are three steps that agencies (and employers facing similar scenarios) can take to transition from traditional processes, improve efficiencies, and gather relevant and timely data for talent strategy.
Before stepping into IT, it's crucial to determine what takes priority and then investigate the technology solutions available that best serve those needs. For example, if several IT processes are already in place, perhaps the priority is getting those systems to communicate with one another.
This is also the time to compare costs and benefits in order to identify what to prioritize based on how funds can be reallocated. One of the agencies interviewed estimated that they could save $3 million a year from simply automating its performance-management system.
It's a common mistake to go all in too early when it comes to integrating technology into HR processes. This can lead to costly purchases, as well as discontent and frustration among employees. Often resulting in a failure of user adoption.
A strategic implementation that occurs in phases can allow agencies to test newer changes and analyze user feedback and make proper adjustments to ensure greater success. By listening to employee feedback, keeping the processes transparent and opening up the lines of communication to leadership, pushback against these changes is less likely to occur.
Choose a Solution
Where does one turn when it's time to bring in IT? While considering shared services providers is a great starting point and can often lower costs, they aren't the only option available.
Sometimes the skills required to build what is needed may already reside internally. The Department of Agriculture has some the most adept automated and integrated HR systems in the federal government, and many of them were developed internally by IT employees at the agency. Finally, agencies also have the option to hire private-sector vendors and contractors to help fill any skill gaps to achieve the desired solutions.
To learn more about integrating automated HR tech systems in federal agencies, check out our latest report, "From Inefficient to Integrated: Automating Human Resources Processes Improves Workforce Management."
Photo: Creative Commons
Want to keep learning? Explore our products, customer stories, and the latest industry insights.
How to Make Your Government Organization a Better Place to Work
There are numerous reasons to work for the federal government. A career in the public sector offers employees an opportunity to make a difference while providing competitive benefits like vacation time, retirement and pension plans.
Streamlining the Federal Hiring Process
The government is looking to hire new talent, both to replace departing retirees as well as to fill newly created roles focused on emerging mission requirements. It’s an exciting time for the federal government: the Wall Street Journal recently reported on Labor Department statistics that show government hiring is outpacing the manufacturing and construction sectors – combined. This growth follows five straight years of shrinking in the government workforce.
Measuring Federal Employee Performance
Working for the federal government comes with many challenges, from the evolving roles and responsibilities each worker takes on, to the heated political environment that’s always on the attack. In spite of this, agency workforces are a resilient bunch – as the 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey revealed, more than 90 percent of agency employees continue to be willing to put in extra effort, are constantly looking for ways to do their job better, and feel their work is important.