Using Tech to Recruit, Develop and Train the Next Generation Worker (Industry Perspective)

With slow economic recovery and spending yet to return to pre-recession levels, organizations just aren’t hiring at the same rate as the workforce is retiring, which is creating widespread talent gaps within the public sector.

by Heather Sherlock, Infor / July 27, 2015
More than one-third of the federal workforce is expected to retire by 2016. Christopher Robbins
More than one-third of the federal workforce is expected to retire by 2016.Christopher Robbins

As government agencies are faced with large numbers of impending retirements, the public-sector workforce is in a critical state of transition. In fact, more than one-third of the federal workforce is expected to retire by 2016, according to reports published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

With slow economic recovery and spending yet to return to pre-recession levels, organizations just aren’t hiring at the same rate as the workforce is retiring, which is creating widespread talent gaps within the public sector. Coupled with these gaps, organizations are also struggling to attract and retain millennial workers, adding fuel to the fire and causing those tasked with human resources responsibilities to go back to the drawing board.

Now more than ever before, HR professionals should be deploying technology solutions for recruiting, developing and training public-sector employees to ensure they are an ideal fit for the role at hand, that they receive the skills they need for success and that they are engaged in their work — all of which will help to mitigate the loss of the exiting workforce.

The large majority of these workers has seen a plethora of changes over their careers, as they have transitioned from paper and analog into the digital age. To that end, many public-sector organizations still lag when it comes to technology, relying on these workers’ knowledge and skills to perform tasks the same way they have always been done. As they depart, they will take with them vast knowledge of processes and history on how the organization works. To maintain constituent services, these positions will need to be filled with a new generation of workers — those who were born into the digital age.    

Workers in this new generation are tech savvy, reliant on information at their fingertips, accessible 24/7 and accustomed to a mobile-application style software that is visual and icon-based — and they use it to do everything from managing their social life and bank accounts to completing school work. They are unfamiliar with the antiquated legacy systems of many government organizations, and they possess career motivation that scarcely resembles that of the retiring generation. What attracted their parents and grandparents to the public sector — long-term stability, benefits and a pension plan — is no longer the highest priority. This creates a new set of challenges and requires a new approach to hiring and retaining talent.

As organizations assess their HR practices and look for new ways to recruit, train and develop employees to fill the gaps, a complete “hire to retire” solution can provide all of the necessary tools. With innovative new approaches to recruiting, training and developing employees, organizations can facilitate the transfer of knowledge. The tools work together to create a unified solution that moves employees from new hire to fully functional when stepping into the roles of their predecessors, limiting disruption of services.

New analytics tools can better improve the selection process during recruitment by using customized behavioral assessments paired with experience and skill evaluations to provide best-fit analysis for potential employees against vacancies. As more of the senior workforce retires, such tools also can  play an important role in succession planning by identifying high-potential candidates within an organization. This is particularly helpful in more technical fields, where highly skilled employees may not be ideal management.  

And using successful performance management tools, employees can be engaged with 360-degree reviews and continuous feedback from their supervisors. These evaluations are useful in identifying knowledge gaps to focus learning initiatives. As employees are developed, they will obtain the skills and knowledge needed to provide continuity in the organization's operations.

Heather Sherlock is industry strategy director for Infor Public Sector and is currently responsible for the development of the program, with strong focus on state and local government. She brings more than 15 years of experience within the public-sector industry to the team. Prior to Infor, Sherlock spent five years with the state of Louisiana and 10 years with the city of Dallas, where she was responsible for the enterprise resources planning landscape. She also was heavily involved in the citywide implementation of Infor Global HR while in Dallas.