Forecasting and preparing for shifts in the federal workforce is a recurring challenge faced by federal agencies. Several factors can have a direct influence, including shifts in the retirement rate among the large number of eligible retirees, mandates from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), or new congressional guidance related to hiring rates and grade distribution. Agencies are constantly reassessing their hiring requirements.
Compound these challenges with the long time-to-hire rates faced by the government, and average tenure metrics, and these forecasts become increasingly important. To accurately and effectively project hiring needs for three-to-five years, agencies need a combination of advanced statistical analysis and easy-to-use tools.
Steps in Workforce Analysis and Planning
Beyond identification of personnel events like turnover, retirement, quit rates, and internal transitions in the workforce, HR specialists should project how these transitions will likely shape the workforce in the future. Then HR can identify and measure future gaps in their workforce and take proactive actions.
Workforce gap analysis starts at the occupational level and involves four key steps:
- Supply Analysis – This is the analysis of the current workforce based on available historical data. Examples include the influence of age or years before retirement on the probability of retirements.
- Demand Analysis – In addition to the current workforce, Demand Analysis looks at the goals the agency has set, alongside their workforce targets. The purpose of this step is to determine what workforce demand will be over the next several years.
- Productivity Analysis – A major factor that influences gaps is the productivity of the current workforce. Using historical supply and demand data, it is possible to generate estimates of productivity that can influence future projections.
- Gap Analysis – The gap analysis utilizes the results of the supply, demand and productivity analysis to project the number of additional employees needed over the five years at the grade, occupation, and duty station level, in addition to replacements for turnover and natural transitions.
By following these steps, it’s possible to better understand where gaps will occur and how workforce plans must be changed. Workforce planning goes beyond replacing those who leave an agency. Agency needs time to change – only be evaluating all four factors above is it possible to measure the true gaps in an agency’s workforce quantitatively.
Addressing for Grade Distribution Targets and Budget
Because of the diverse nature of the federal workforce, it’s important that hiring considers a mix of higher grade and lower grade personnel to optimize the flow of employees through their career progression – filling vacancies for senior management positions, while considering the shifting needs of agencies.
At the same time, agencies have a finite amount of budget, time, and resources with which to achieve their agency-level missions. Workforce planning miscalculations can be expensive and take years to correct, whether due to a lower than required number of key employees, or a misbalance in grade distribution.
Addressing Workforce Gaps
Predictive analytics that provide the necessary insights into an agency’s HR department can better support workforce planning for three to five years into the future. To learn more about how tools with advanced predictive analytics capabilities can support your agency’s workforce planning efforts, download our eBook, How Federal Agencies Can Leverage Technology Tools for Workforce Planning: