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Using technology to get an accurate workforce profile of your federal employees

Workforce planning is one of the most important and challenging aspects of optimizing your federal agency’s productivity. When done correctly, it can ensure that you are always complying with current regulations, that your results line up with your goals, and that there’s a balance between employees joining and leaving your agency.

When managed incorrectly, though, all of these factors can be thrown off-kilter. This not only jeopardizes your workforce but your entire agency, too.

To succeed, federal firms need a solid idea of where their workforce stands today — and an accurate idea of what it’s going to look like in the future.

Curating information in both these areas is made far easier by workforce profiles and tech-based strategies. Here’s how:

Where most current workforce planning strategies are failing — and how technology can help

In many agencies, workforce planning is made more difficult by a lack of modern strategies. Managers and HR departments either have too little data to work with or more than they can manage. And without the right tools in place, you’ll struggle to maximize the success of your workforce plan for this year — let alone the next five.

But solutions do exist to help smooth out the challenges associated with federal workforce planning. Whether you’re concerned about internal changes, external pressures, or both, technological tools are available to help make sense of what you’re seeing.

The challenges surrounding succession planning

In the federal workforce, over 600,000 employees are preparing for retirement right now. And replacing them is no easy feat. Not only do they represent 30% of the total federal workforce — a sizable cohort to recruit for — but losing the decades of cumulative experience and expertise these soon-to-retire team members hold can be disastrous for productivity.

Replacing employees that are moving into retirement is one of the many goals of succession planning. In any workforce, employees are constantly shifting positions. You have new employees coming in, old employees leaving, and intermediate employees moving up and down the ladder.

Succession planning focuses on directing this flow and the flow of experience, too. It aims to prevent employee shortages and redundancies, as well as to make sure that the expertise of older employees is used to train younger employees.

How tech can help

Succession planning requires managers to see several years ahead; decisions have to be made based on things that might not happen until five years in the future. There’s little way of knowing precisely who will retire, when, and what impact that will have on the team — and small course corrections today could become large missteps tomorrow. So how do you make HR decisions that stand the test of time?

Workforce planning tools can be transformational for succession strategies. For one, a digital solution will expand the amount of data you have at your disposal — while also increasing the quality of insights you can draw. By monitoring historic and present day employee profiles, workforce analytics software can more accurately predict when a “recruitment wave” will be required — and what that will have to look like.

Where once human instinct was the driving force, smart automation and data analysis on a mass (and ongoing) scale steps in. While you might not have been wrong that 30% of your workforce would retire in 2025, the exact gap that would represent has never been easy to spot — until now.

Data: what to do with it when you have it

Speaking of data, federal agencies often struggle to glean meaningful insight from workforce profile sets. For data analysis to be worth it, you need to know what action is required from what you’ve learned. When done right, workforce analytics translates your team — a group of individuals of varying backgrounds, experience, tenures, ages, etc. — into a dataset that you can more easily read, understand and plan around.

True, most HR departments are now able to automate the collection of data on their employees, providing a wealth of information to use in your workforce planning. Unfortunately, this data has had an inadvertent consequence. Namely, there is more data being collected than most agencies know what to do with.

Rather than providing deeper insights, these data pools only provide unrealized potential, buried beneath too many numbers and metrics.

Data: what to do with it when you have it

Many federal agencies already have the workforce data they need — they just need the right tools to get to convert datasets into action plans. The good news is, interpreting and managing data is one of technology’s greatest strengths.

By using sophisticated software backed by statisticians, agencies can parse through this data much faster and with far fewer errors. This allows managers to increase performance in areas like ranking agency goals, determining each employee’s effectiveness at various tasks, rapidly understanding the succession flow of your workforce, and tracking the progress of your department.
Put simply: by adopting workforce planning tools, federal HR managers can home in on supply, demand, productivity and gap learnings — spotting problems before they arise, and plugging immediate (and upcoming) spaces where needed. This leads to an overall more efficient, productive and harmonious workforce — benefiting both the federal firm as an operation and, in turn, increasing the impact it has externally.

There’s a cost benefit to discuss here, too. Federal teams are given a mission, and a set budget and timeframe to achieve it in. With targeted insights, workforce management representatives can make smart, accurate decisions — the kind that pay dividends, rather than wasting taxpayer money.

Slow, manual processes get in the way of meaningful action

Federal agencies rely on copious amounts of paperwork. For the most part, workforce planning activities come down to heaving spreadsheets — offering little to no high-level insight — and a real lack of tools for data visualization.

On top of this, too high a proportion of work is done manually — using outdated, slow methods of testing, decision making, and reviewing. In fact, the traditional annual review is an excellent example of something that can and should be performed digitally. Digitizing this process makes it faster, the results more clear and valuable, and opens up opportunities to obtain even deeper insights than before.

How tech can help

Automation is fueling the digital transformation of modern day workplaces. Software not only replaces traditional workflows, it actually allows for opportunities that were not possible before.

Sticking with the example of performance management, Skills Navigator replaces annual reviews with a digital test that can be administered at any time and from anywhere without the need for someone to grade the test. This allows agencies to theoretically assess all of their employees at once — as often as they choose.
It also offers visualizations, built-in metrics based on proven research, and several tools for applying the test results to workforce planning and profiling.

By streamlining the previous laborious process of skills assessment and performance management, automated tools free up HR personnel to focus on creating impact. Chances are, there are training programs to roll out as a result of what you’ve learned. Now, with the right tech on your side, deciding how to spend your skills development budget is a straightforward decision — distribute the assessment company-side, review the findings visually, and make the changes that benefit your team and the people you represent in the outside world.

Where most current workforce planning strategies are failing — and how technology can help

For federal agencies looking to boost their performance, investing in digitized workforce profiling and planning is one of the best ways to do so.

Our Workforce Gap Predictor helps overcome the challenges of personnel management, helping you make more accurate decisions to futureproof your agency — training and retaining the right people for today, tomorrow and the many coming years, too.

FedHR Navigator

A fully configurable Federal HR solution that meets your agency’s unique Human Resources requirements.

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