April 21, 2020

Three actions public sector agencies need to take for the future of work

As public sector organizations face pressure to deliver increasingly personalized service and higher-value outcomes for citizens, the time has come to transform the workforce. Here are three actions organizations should take to build the right workforce with the right skills for today – and tomorrow.

By 2022, over 60% of global GDP will be digitized. Technology is influencing nearly every aspect of life in our communities, and the pace of change is accelerating faster than ever before. In this new digital world, organizations across every industry are either driving this change, or they’re playing catch-up.

As citizens embrace the value that technology brings to their lives, their expectations are changing. They now expect the same level of convenience and personalization they’re enjoying as consumers to extend to other facets of their lives, from healthcare to the workplace to their experience with public sector organizations. As a result, organizations face a double imperative: they need to embrace technology to meet the needs and expectations of today’s citizens – and also to attract the next generation of talent.

Action #1: Optimize the workforce through technology

Delivering high-value, personalized experiences for citizens will require more effort and attention from the public sector workforce. Yet, as agencies are under pressure to do more with less, the solution won’t be found in simply hiring more people. Instead, organizations will need to improve workforce efficiency and streamline operations.

The right technology can help drive productivity for public sector organizations, starting with leveraging data to make informed decisions about workforce planning and management. Automation is also key, as it allows organizations to refocus employees away from repetitive admin tasks and back onto improving service delivery for citizens. Finally, technology can play a role in helping public sector agencies manage compliance to better safeguard data and minimize risk.

Action #2: Modernize hiring and onboarding

Public sector organizations are experiencing what is often referred to as the “Silver Tsunami.” In the next five years, over half of the U.S. federal workforce may qualify for retirement, and 70% of its senior managers will reach retirement age. At the same time, widespread digital transformation means a greater need for technology skills, an area where the public sector is lacking. According to a Deloitte survey of over 1,200 government officials in over 70 countries, 81% said their digital capabilities are behind the U.S. private sector.

The new wave of millennial and Generation Z employees taking over the workforce often have different needs and expectations from the workplace. A Ceridian survey from 2018 showed that these younger workers seek new challenges and opportunities to advance their careers. Only 51% of respondents said they feel they’re making an impact, but 92% of those who do feel they are contributing in a positive way are happy in their jobs (compared to only 58% of those who don’t feel they are contributing).

And even though the younger generations are more tech savvy than ever before, the competition is high between industries to attract those with in-demand skills. For public sector organizations to ensure they have the right talent with the right skills, they will need to reinvent their processes to better attract millennial and Gen Z talent. This starts with convincing candidates that today’s public sector can offer them opportunities for learning, career growth, and impact – all from within a modern, tech-enabled workplace.

Action #3: Engage your people to drive retention

The cost of attrition is high. It hits organizations hard, not only because it costs time and money to hire someone new, but also because of the hidden costs associated with burnout, overtime, and absenteeism. The younger generations are well known for their comfort with changing jobs to find the right environment to suit their individual needs and values. It’s not enough to lure top talent with promises – organizations have to deliver on a great culture and employee experience to match.

Technology is once again key to building the right engagement and retention strategies for the public sector workforce. Engagement starts on the first day of work with a well-planned and executed onboarding experience. Learning platforms allows employees more control over skill-building and career development, while succession planning tools help agencies identify and develop the next generation of leaders. And digital employee surveys are easy to administer often, giving managers critical insight into engagement so they can take real time steps toward improving the employee experience.

The future is now

The time for workforce transformation in the public sector is now. Serving the public successfully in a digital world starts with having the right strategy to overcome barriers like the technology skills gap, difficulty attracting younger talent, and the imperative to do more with less.

Read next: COVID-19 crisis: Start closing the public sector technology gap today

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