HR in the Federal Government: A Changing Landscape Part II: Is Technology the Answer? (Hint: YES!)
The President’s Management Agenda (PMA), released to the public in March 2018, runs the gamut in terms of requirements and recommendations for agencies and departments within the Federal Government. A recurring theme in the document? Technology must be leveraged to modernize, create efficiencies, and get the job done better, faster, and smarter, including managing and improving quality customer service in agencies and HR departments.
According to the PMA, “the FY 2019 President’s Budget outlines a vision for change that would streamline the hiring and dismissal processes, modernize human resources technology, better utilize data to inform workforce management, rebalance labor-management relations, align Federal workforce management authorities with private sector best practices, and reduce unnecessary red tape to bring the Federal workforce into the 21st Century.”
In other words, the times…they are a’ changin’!
Unfortunately, Federal HR is still playing catch up. And many HR professionals continue to use antiquated systems to do their jobs. Because of the stringent compliance and reporting requirements that Federal HR departments are bound to, automating HR processes has proven to be a challenge. However, the right technology tools and techniques can automate or streamline many common HR tasks (employee onboarding, processing benefits claims and forms, etc.) and reduce the amount of time spent on these tasks by as much as 40-70%.
Below are some areas of IT and innovative change that Federal HR departments are addressing:
- Automated systems can be used to track applications, employee benefits, and progress on trainings, freeing up time for HR personnel to focus on more mission-critical tasks.
- It seems like artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere these days, doesn’t it? While we aren’t quite at the point of having robot maids à la The Jetsons, current AI technology can go a long way in reducing administrative burdens. For example, AI can speed up and facilitate the hiring and recruiting processes through chatbots and virtual assistants that can answer candidates’ questions.
- The internet of things (IoT), while still a relatively new concept, especially in the Federal Government landscape, might eventually help HR departments and their agencies track productivity and employee motivation, and lead to increased employee retention through streamlined data transfer.
- Data analytics is another key component to bringing Federal HR departments into the future. While most HR departments currently use analytics, only 6% of Federal HR departments currently use “people analytics” to help make business and talent decisions, according to Deloitte. People analytics (or HR analytics), can provide critical insight into recruiting and inclusivity.
- Learning management systems (LMS) have changed the way the Federal Government conducts training. HR professionals can facilitate on-demand training that can be accessed at any time, from any location. Not only do LMS platforms allow for continuous learning and upskilling, but the variety of training types and modalities supported on these platforms are numerous, including micro-learning, communities of practice, and more.
- Growing in importance is the HR Information Technology (HRIT) specialist role, as outlined in SHRM’s “Top 2019 HR Tech Trends.” This is especially important as Federal HR technology evolves to require significantly more data security, privacy, systems configuration, and cloud service integration responsibilities. HRIT specialists, program managers, and government leaders can and should find training and learning opportunities about IT, particularly as applied to HR systems and tools.
“This is all well and good,” you may be thinking. “But what does all this technology in Federal HR really look like?” Well, I will tell you! Check out the final post in this series to read about how technology is transforming HR communications.
Tara Ebrahimi is the Managing Editor at Management Concepts and has been with the company for more than 5 years. A writer, editor, and communications professional, her work has been published in numerous outlets, including the New York Times, Rapportage, and Outlook magazine.