Human resource managers in the public sector typically are quick to decry the difficulties in recruiting and retaining a talented workforce. And Los Angeles County, which employs over 108,000 workers through 35 departments, knows this reality all too well.
Department of Human Resources CIO Murtaza Masood is in the process of digitally transforming many of the county's backend systems in operation — and is excited to see the progress. The county is currently in year two of the five-year plan, and Masood said he is pleased with the feedback he's received thus far.
“Two years ago we embarked on this HR transformation agenda,” said Masood, who said the overall strategy is “taking processes that were completely paper and turning them into digitally automated workflows, as well as revamping websites and revamping service delivery systems.”
The revamped website now features a completely digital job application portal. This portal lets potential employees upload documents and store them on the site, creating a simple process for applying for multiple positions. The job application portal is also mobile-friendly, making it easier for those without easy access to desktop or laptop computers to apply for positions.
Coming from the private sector, Masood said he understands the unique challenges that plague the public sector in recruiting and retaining employees.
“The private sector is allowed to be nimble, pivot easily and pivot faster," he said, noting that he sees this as an opportunity to think about all the variables that go into the decision-making process. “The public sector is more long-term in nature," he said, adding that more planning and forethought are necessary, which ultimately leads to better outcomes.
And Masood is pushing the envelope as far as how technology is aiding service delivery for the county. Building a reliable data dashboard full of statistics but void of any tools to help make sense of the data won't cut it anymore, he said: Compiling troves of data and dumping it on the public “is yesterday’s business intelligence. What we need to get into is forecasting and prescriptive data analysis.”
And that's next in the department's digitization efforts. An upcoming employee data analytics platform under development will track personnel from the time an employee applies, and will follow them through their career, indicating what sorts of workforce training would aid in their job or help them to move up, and also would predict how long they will stay with the county.
“To be able to deliver efficient and effective services, we have to deploy technology and reinvent the way we do business,” Masood said.
Additional future projects include a revamped benefits system, a temp worker registry application program and an eForms 2.0 system that will digitize transactional forms.
Although working for the public sector may present unique challenges, Masood offers that other employees should not accept the status quo of private sectors leading the public. “Being a major employer in the region, we should be leading the way rather than following the market.”