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Posted by on Feb 6, 2014

Will 2014 Be the Year of Employee Value Proposition in Federal Government?

ValueLike many of my colleagues in the human capital, training, and leadership development fields, I enjoy reading the many articles that pop up across the web discussing the current state of the industry.

As I think back about the themes and trends I noticed throughout 2013, one of the most common seems to be the looming critical talent shortage organizations will face in 2014 and beyond.  In fact, Josh Bersin predicted that 2014 will be the year of the employee, boldly proclaiming that

“The war for talent is over, and the talent won.”

Of course, many in the blogosphere share Bersin’s belief that we’re finally seeing a shift in the employment market that will place employees in the driver’s seat – a position they haven’t held for the last five to eight years. 

For Federal agencies, 2014 may represent a perfect storm of conditions that make it difficult for the Federal Government to compete for increasingly scarce talent resources.

  • The hiring freeze that has affected many agencies for three (or more) years has left many positions vacant with the workload for those jobs added on to already overburdened employees.
  • In addition to high workload, the failure of the retirement wave to materialize means that younger workers have had less opportunity for career growth and advancement.
  • Then, add pay freezes, limited budgets for recognition, continued talk of downsizing in the Federal workforce, and negative public opinion about the quality of the Federal workforce.

And it’s not hard to believe that attracting top talent to the civil service could be a major challenge in 2014, and beyond.

This is why I think that 2014 should be the year of the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) in Federal Government. EVPs, in the broadest sense, specify the deal between employer and employee and describe the total employment experience. They address total rewards, the mission, vision, and job culture, and the people – the nature and composition of the workforce and how that contributes to the organizations objectives.

Research has shown that organizations with effective EVPs are more likely to have engaged employees and stronger performance. Articulating an agency’s EVP is a fast and effective way to attract and retain top talent that requires little financial investment.
The EVP provides a way for employees to see that their contributions to the organization offer them a chance to engage in meaningful service, be a part of a culture that aligns with personal values, and offers career enhancing experience that can lead to growth and advancement (either at their current employer or another agency).

Having a clear understanding of what employees get in exchange for their effort leads to increased commitment, satisfaction, and higher levels of discretionary effort – all things that are sorely needed at most Federal agencies.

So, to help you get started in defining and communicating your EVP here are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • Focus on connecting employees to the mission. Remind your staff of the reason why your organization exists and emphasize how they contribute to achieving that mission.
  • Describe how employees can contribute to and benefit from the culture.
  • Discuss the link between employee compensation and organizational values.
  • Highlight the consistency between your client facing brand and the employer – employee relationship.
  • Explicitly identify what employees can expect in return for their contributions to achieving the organizations goals, including intrinsic (e.g satisfaction, sense of purpose, inclusion) and extrinsic (e.g. potential salary increases, bonus, formal recognition) rewards.
  • Be honest about the current state of your organization in comparison to the desired state and think about the changes you need to make to get to the desired state.

Developing your agencies EVP can be hard but rewarding work and the payoff is bound to justify the investment. Thinking through, and communicating,  the benefits of the employer – employee relationship can give you a leg up in building and maintaining an engaged and productive workforce.

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